Book 1 of the Crossroads Trilogy
Genre: epic fantasy
About Spirit Gate:
In a world torn apart by warfare and betrayal, a new darkness has arisen.Source: Info in the About Spirit Gate was taken from the author's website at http://www.kateelliott.com/default.asp?cmsnumber=1&page_id=105 on 28/03/2011.
Outlanders Anji and Mai are on the run with a company of dedicated Qin warriors, when they meet an unusual reeve in the mysterious country known as the Hundred.
Together, they must decide whether to take on a fanatical army against impossible odds. Because if they don’t, the land will certainly be lost.
The world of the Crossroads Trilogy is rich with exotic people, cultures, sights and sounds. It conjures to mind of the exotic diversity of cultures in Jabba The Hutt’s world in Star Wars. A jumble of people who looks different and whose ways are different and exotic-looking that they fascinate the senses. The different cultures are so rich and diverse in this fantasy world that it sometimes gets confusing to get it straight in my head which culture worship which gods as one team of our protagonists travel and as the narration switches from one protagonist’s point of view (POV) to another. This book does not have one or two protagonist, or even one or two teams of good guys but multiple protagonists which weaved the story into wonderful and colourful, if riotous, tapestry.
The book is medium-paced which lags at times but gets quicker as the end draws near. The slowness, I think, is compounded by the presence of a “sub-language” in the world of the Crossroads Trilogy which takes a lot of getting used to. Like, in one of the cultures in this fantasy world, they say “ver” instead of “Mister” as a proper address to an adult male, and things like that. A reader catches on after a few encounters with the use of “ver” though. And “ver” is not the only word in this “sub-language”. So, until one is about three-quarters into the book, a reader hasn’t encountered all of these “sub-language” words yet. And until the reader “gets” the meaning of these “sub-language”, it is a slightly confusing reading. I think this contributes to the slower pace of the book, which otherwise would have been a faster-paced epic fantasy.
The cover is very attractive to my fantasy reader's eyes. The art department deserves a raise! It is what made me buy this book even before I've read the synopsis at the cover sleeve! I honestly think that this is the only reason that this book sold copies at all. Once people start realising that this is not such a brilliant read after all, I think people will stop buying.
Character development? I’d give it a 2 out of 5. Character A is an ex-slave who struggled and worked his way to freedom, is an experienced trader up and down hazardous and dangerous trade routes across different countries, and survive. Only to stand stupidly on a road he perfectly knows is dangerous until he gets captured by the bad guys… What!?! What about that well-honed survival instinct which kept him alive all these years? Suddenly gone sabbatical? I hate it when people in a book act so out of character from the way they were described that they become unrecognizable. It’s irritating to read. It also drops the “suspension of disbelief” down to the boots.
The author forces the protagonists to behave out of character to create a dilemma in the story so that other protagonists could show off by carrying out heroic deeds and save the world. I find that plot pretty weak indeed! Not to mention annoying...
Despite the wonderful world building, I find the inconsistent character behaviour too irritating to read such that I don’t think I would be buying any more offerings by this author.
Final Say: This book has so much promise but fell short.
Story Telling Quality = 3.5
World Building = 4.5
Character Development = 2
Plot = 1
Story Itself = 2
Ending = 2.5
Cover Art = 5
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 cherries
Other Books In The Crossroads Trilogy: