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Spirit Gate (Crossroads #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  3,535 Ratings  ·  274 Reviews
World Fantasy and Nebula Award finalist Kate Elliott breaks new ground in a brilliantly original new fantasy set in a unique world of fabled cities, mysterious gods, and terrible dangers. From the first page readers will be swept up in the story of Mai and Captain Anji, as they become unwitting players in a conflict that began many years earlier, and which will shake the f
Hardcover, 445 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Tor Books
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Pauline Ross
Fantasy Review Barn

I love this book. Or perhaps I should say - I did love this book, for a whole two chapters. It featured a wonderful, independent, self-assured female protagonist, who was completely comfortable in her own skin. Hurrah! A character I could really root for!

And then she’s never seen again. She existed for a whole two chapters purely to motivate a male character, who then mopes and whines and drinks and whinges (while also enjoying himself with other women) for (get this) nineteen
Nick Fagerlund
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those seeking huge fantasy trilogies with decent worldbuilding (compelling characters optional)
Shelves: didnt-finish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Kate Elliot reminds me of a slightly less noir George R.R. Martin, but full disclosure: Martin's too dark and slow-moving for my taste, so this is not quite the endorsement it might be from someone who loves Martin unreservedly. I have always wondered why Elliot seems to have missed the acclaim given Martin.
A lot of the action is political, but some of it seems to be spiritual, which is not to say that people can't suddenly die from sepsis. (See, this is why it reminds me of GRRM!)

Once again
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: somewhere in RaceFail09
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. Elliott has created numerous societies, each with their own distinct gender roles, politics, religion, food, etc. The societies and people are clearly all non-Western--they wear silk, eat yogurt, have brown hair and skin. There are POV characters from each of the big three (the Qin, the Hundred, and the Sirnakian Empire), and no one country or society is painted as morally better than the others.

BUT. Elliott spends so much time building her w
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
I don't know. I love the concept of Kate Elliot books, but always feel a little let down with the delivery. I'm never sure exactly why. In theory this sounds like a great book and maybe the second book will explain a lot more and make me feel more satisfied. I had read almost two hundred pages before anything other than the introduction of characters was over. In fact the first two hundred pages didn't even introduce the people who were the main characters. I don't know. I did finish it, but I'm ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The idea of my reading Kate Elliot’s work was to expand the number of female fantasy authors in my library. I wasn’t quite sure where start where to start since I had heard mixed reviews about each of her three main series. In the end I decided on Crossroads because this appealed most to my taste in fantasy.

I was not disappointed. The author, in my opinion, produced a marvellous piece of work. We are introduced to a land called the Hundred. It’s inhabited by a peace keeping force called Reeves.
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Rather than throwing in the usual bells and whistles of the fantasy genre, the underappreciated Kate Elliott prefers to work with, well, a full band, intricate but not obvious, including some smaller instruments that don't sound like much but that contribute to the overall sound. Elliott's quite excellent previous series, the seven-volume Crown of Stars, was keep-your-distance daunting to those not that into 5,000-plus page epics and ripples-within-ripples plotting. It went off in too many direc ...more
Simcha Lazarus
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I admit that when I started Spirit Gate I was a bit thrown off because I had expected this book to be somewhat similar to the others that I had read by Kate Elliott, which it is not. The style in which Spirit Gate is written is very different from that of the Crown of Stars books and it just took me a little bit of time to adjust, though once I did the story quickly immersed me.

Some readers may have trouble with the fact that the story doesn’t really focus on any one of the characters. I know th
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Decent, but I wasn't blown away. The best part of the book was some strong characterization. Not every character got this, but most of them did. When the book was focused on this and not the bigger picture, I quite enjoyed it.

Despite the good stuff, I had some major reservations with some aspects of the world-building. First, I couldn't figure out exactly why the reeves were supposed to be so important, and so when things start to go wrong for them right off the bat, it didn't make any sense why
I have a Kate Elliott problem, and it is this: every book she's ever written has a summary that makes it sound exactly like the sort of thing I want to read. Complex characters, deep anthropological worldbuilding, shades of moral gray . . . yes, please!

And then I read the book, and I am reminded, yet again, that my brain and Elliott's writing mix like stiletto heels and a muddy field. I try to trudge through, because what I can see on the horizon is awesome, but it's a painful battle, staggering
Doc Opp
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Elliott sure knows how to weave a masterful yarn. Very creative and suspenseful. Also with a more limited scope than her first series, so there aren't as many plotlines and characters to follow which makes it less confusing and more readable. I enjoyed the book so much that I went to 2 bookstores and a library to find the sequel. Which I really don't have time to read, but I'm making time by foregoing other important activities (like sleep)
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Want deep world building that doesn't seem pretentious? Want differing cultures without the cliche of monolithic fantasy "races." And would you like a pretty good story to go with it? I must say, Kate Elliott my a have a book to hook you on a series.

The setting is fairly unique. The main story takes place in a land called the Hundred, which is home of the Reeves, giant eagle riders. They follow the laws set by mysterious Guardians, enforced by the Reeves for generations, but things are of cours
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know. I found that it was a little bit hard to get in to at first because it's slow and the story line tends to drag on for a bit then suddenly jump through time without letting the reader get a feel for the story properly. I also really hoped that I would get to know more about some characters like Marit who you barely hear about, so I was a bit disappointed in that respect.
But, I found that reading the next books made the first book make more sense. So when I went back to the first boo
This is the first book of a 3 book series and Kate Elliot again proves her ability to write fantastic female characters. The world building is interesting, believable and real.

The characters are complete multiple faceted and like able, I cared about what happened to them. Throughout this series Kate Elliott explores the path and consequences of power-lust and the corruptibility of people. The start is a bit weird in that it introduces characters that seem irrelevant for the remainder of the boo
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a very interesting and unique fantasy story. It would have been rated higher for me if the plot was a bit faster-paced. Unfortunately it felt like it was unnecessarily slow-paced in the middle of the novel. I loved the setting though, and the characters were intriguing. I might give this series another read sometime when I have gotten through my giant to-read list!
Aug 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
My god, Kate Elliott loves the sound of her own writing. Too bad I didn't—and too bad I didn't like the unlikeable characters, the glacial, wandering plot or the confusing geography. Give this one a pass.
Mild spoilers implied, be warned.

This book was tricky. Of all Elliott's works (so far), this one took me the longest to get into. The character introduced at the beginning turns out to be a fake-out lead, time skips and switching between numerous POVs until it finally gets settled a little after we meet the characters Shai, Mai, and Anji.

I'm glad I stuck through it, however long it took me, but there came a point when I realized I didn't want to put it down, because then I wanted all of them t
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Res by: Jo Walton
Shelves: sff
The one where strangers from various lands come together to fight something that's only beginning to come clear at the end of the book. (Because this is one of those books where 'trilogy' means 'a single novel that happens to be published in three volumes.') Joss the reeve rides a giant eagle and fights crime and is incorruptible and grieving like the hero of a Western; pretty Mai takes a foreign husband and thus gets to leave her repressive culture, bringing along her kinsman, Shai, who can see ...more
Catherine Fitzsimmons
Sep 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is the story of a struggling land succumbing to bandits and civil war in the wake of the disappearance of the legendary Guardians that once presided over the land and kept peace.

Despite the interesting cover image, Spirit Gate was very disappointing. None of the characters was very likable, most were painfully cliche or annoying, and the writing came across as juvenile, which was the biggest deterrant to enjoyment. It got off to a bad start as the main character in the opening of the novel
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I really loved Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars series, set in a fantasy world very close to medieval Europe. The people felt authentic and the world was very rich. However, I bounced off her Spiritwalker series set in an alternate Victorian era. I know that Elliott takes diversity seriously and wanted to give her Crossroads series, set in an alternate fantasy Asia, a try.

However, for whatever reason, the book didn't draw me in. Maybe part of it was that it's a looong book at almost 700 pages, and
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
A bit different from your usual fantasy. No real magic (so far) apart from the giant eagles and barely glimpsed flying horses. I was a bit uncomfortable with these to start with, but they don't talk, so I got used to them. The real magic about this book is the way Kate has drawn all these disparate peoples with their different food, clothing, colouring, language, customs and religions. I hope she can maintain this standard in Volume II, which I am about to open.

One tiny gripe: I love maps. If th
Walter Underwood
Sep 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ponderous "worldbuilding" unrelated to the story just killed this for me. Let's describe all the shops on the street while we walk towards something that matters. Let's make the reader do math in their head to figure out the various "ages" when people have ceremonies to move on to the next phase of life, then have that not matter to the story. Tell me that the group is annoyed with the cleric rather than showing me, then have the cleric leave the group so none of it matters.

I found the whole thi
Carlie Hamilton
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2012, 2017
30 June 2012
Wow, was pleasantly surprised how good this book was. Mainly because it seems to have mixed reviews, and I read another book by Kate Elliott last year and wasn't impressed. Maybe it was my lower expectations, but I very much enjoyed this book, and recommend it highly. The world building is original (which means not medieval europe), and how refreshing (sad to say, really) is it to have POC as the norm and white people as not.
Looking forward to reading the next in the series

31 Januar
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Derek by: Liz Bourke:
Shelves: fantasy

Maybe 2 stars. Fully of this book is taken up with mere introduction. We all know what's coming, but it just drags out for 300+ pages until suddenly everything happens.

Then we get left at the end with very little resolution, and still no real understanding of what's going on. Well, Ms. Elliott, I hope you're not holding your breath waiting for me to read volume 2.

Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars!

this is the first adult novel i've read
by Elliott and i loved it. sweeping, ambitious,
personal and epic, Spirit Gate has it all.
i didn't realize that elliott had written an
Asian inspired world until she told me, and i'm
so glad i picked this up. i really enjoyed the
touches of it that helped to inspire this world.
beyond her amazing world building and pulling
together of multiple view points and plot threads,
i think what i love most about the story is that
i care for every major character (
Wiebke Kuhn
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
First book in a trilogy, with, I thought, compelling characters and enough mystery that it took me quite a while to start guessing what may be going on. The world itself is complex and somewhat confusing with its different religious systems that appear to be all the same, with its different ethnic descriptions that all have a common language, so the underlying philosophy may make the rest of the story potentially simplistic, but for right now, I want to keep reading because I like especially the ...more
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this first book of the series. The characters are well-rounded and you can never count anybody out just because they die. Ok - no spoilers here, but I do like fantasy and magic (the world could do with more) and this is a good read - it's the kind of book that kept me reading into the night - and I like that. The next book is still in hardback, so I have a little wait for my next all-nighter.
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to rate this one mostly because it took soooooo long to get through it. Either Kate Elliot is a superior writer or the narrator has a voice that lulls me. I could wander out of the room while the book was playing and not miss anything important. I could hear the same part several times and not care. Either way, I liked this book, its story and characters. Now I must search for the next book in this series.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-series
Interesting read, but not as complelling as the "Crown of Stars" series at this point.

The 4 star rating is based primarily on the premise, which Im really enjoying. In terms of execution, this was solid (if somewhat slow-paced) fantasy tale.

I think the next book will better inform my opinion of this series.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a complicated beginning which withholds a lot. I found it a somewhat frustrating read, but still exciting and with intriguing characters. It was great how differently the characters came across depending on the narrator.
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What's the Name o...: Fantasy, eagles, "Reeves" [s] 3 34 Jun 23, 2014 12:14PM  
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As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. It should therefore come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight.

When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely
More about Kate Elliott

Other books in the series

Crossroads (3 books)
  • Shadow Gate (Crossroads, #2)
  • Traitors' Gate (Crossroads, #3)

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“Of course we all suffer,' Priya often told her. 'But if you cling to suffering or fight it then it will hold on like a rat. If you accept it's existence and the pain it causes you, then you can release it'.” 0 likes
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