Kate Elliott,
Crossroads #1: Spirit Gate
(Tor, 2006)

In the realm of the Hundred, peace has always been kept by the Guardians through their agents, the Reeves. Carried by their giant eagles, the Reeves fly over the land administering the Law. Sightings of Guardians were always rare; there have been no sightings in decades, and very few people believe that they exist any longer -- if they ever existed at all. Worse, the Reeves are losing their authority. As a lawless shadow creeps across the Hundred, some Reeves have even turned their backs on the Law.

Meanwhile, in a far southern land, young Mai, a vendor of peaches and almonds, is wedded to one of the cruel Qin. But Captain Anji does not seem to be like the other Qin. Though Mai initially fears him, she comes to love him fiercely. Exiled not only from his own homeland, but also from the Qin's lands, Anji, his new wife and his retainers travel north to the Hundred. There they become tangled up with Reeve Joss, one of the few who battles against the loss of the Law.

Spirit Gate is the first book in a new series, Crossroads. It displays all of Elliott's celebrated talent for world-building, with ancient and dusty mythology underlying a vibrant society slipping into decay. The characters, too, from upright Joss to shy Mai and everyone in between, are just as vivid as the world they inhabit. And before you start comparing giant eagles to dragons, don't. The eagles are just that: eagles. Really, really big eagles.

It is to be hoped that the sequel is not too far off.

review by
Laurie Thayer

8 September 2007

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