The Crossroads series currently consists of three books; Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, and Traitor’s Gate.
The books take place in the mythical land of the Hundred and it’s neighbouring lands, and documents the lives of of a large cast of characters who must work together to defeat a dark presence which is sweeping over the northern reaches of the Hundred. The first book, Spirit Gate, introduces us to a brand new concept; reeves. Reeves can be thought of as police, and it is their duty to enforce the law and keep the peace in the Hundred. In order to help them do this, they ride giant eagles known as Raptors who have chosen the reeves to become their riders. Once a reeve has been chosen by an Eagle, they have no choice but to follow that path.
Reeve Joss is introduced in the beginning of the first book, along with his lover, another reeve named Marit. A tragedy befalls the couple after they discover and trespass upon a mysterious guardian alter. Guardians are ancient beings whose duty is to judge the citizens of the hundred by seeing into their hearts and minds. When we are introduced to the Guardians in Sprit Gate, they have been missing from the Hundred for generations, and nobody knows where they have gone. As a dark series of events threaten to fling the Hundred into turmoil, the whereabouts of the guardians is a great cause for concern.
In Spirit Gate, we are also introduced to a beautiful and intelligent young woman called Mai. She is chosen to marry a wealthy Qin Commander named Anji, who takes her away from her native lands due to political unrest. They venture into the Hundred looking for a new life, but discover it is not the safe haven they were searching for. Both characters and the people they bring with them into the Hundred have important roles to play in the fight against the blight which is threatening the livelihood of the entire population of the Hundred.
I will not discuss the events of the second and third novels, because I don’t want to give anything away, and these novels are full of unexpected twists and surprises. I will say, however, that you can expect romance, magic, ghosts, war, political intrigue and much more. These books are big, and I’d say they are quite a heavy read, but they are well worth it.
Kate Elliott has managed to create a truly epic fantasy story and set it in a world which has been fully developed, well thought through and can easily be imagined. Special praise should be given for the character development, as not one person in the series is without fault, and not one is purely good or evil. Elliott has created real people, who’s actions are motivated by their own desires, emotions and personalities. These characters involve the reader from the get go, and each chapter leads the reader desiring more and more from their favourite people. I believe that there are characters in the novels which everybody can relate to in one way or another, and others we might draw inspiration from.
One criticism of the books is that Elliott dives straight into the Crossroads world without giving much explanation to how the world works. Everything does become clear as the story progresses, but I am somebody who likes to know the world I’ll be reading about quite soon after I begin. Some of you might find that this is a good thing, however, as it dives straight into the story without the need for explanations, which might limit the extent to which you can fully immerse yourself in the epic world Elliott has created. These books may also suffer because Elliott does write in quite a heavy, descriptive style. Because of the nature of these novels, and the fact that brand new ideas are introduced however, I believe that without the description, the trilogy would be nowhere near as good as it is.
These books will take a long time to read, but it will be well worth it. They are a truly unique set of novels which are unfortunately relatively undiscovered. Elliott deserves great recognition for her ability to create this magnificent universe which doesn’t leave the readers’ mind, even after the story has been finished. It is a wildly complex and involving series, and is a great example of a brilliant, fantastical, historical story.
On a final note, good news for those who have read these books! Elliott has begun work on a second Series which takes place after the events of the crossroads series, so be sure to look out for that!