Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott - A Goodreads Review


Posted on : 8/27/2015 04:20:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Spirit Gate (Crossroads, #1)Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

From reading elsewhere, you will already know that Spirit Gate is the first of the Crossraods trilogy of books written by Kate Elliott (Alis Rasmussen).

I gave this a 2 star rating and thought about saying it was really a 2.5 star rating.  I also toyed with simply not finishing the book.  A 2 star rating is an honest reflection of my experience.

Ms. Elliott's other work may demonstrate an outstanding ability to tell stories.  This particular book left me with the impression that her skills fall well short of writers like Melanie Rawn, Sara Douglass, or George R.R. Martin.

Caution - spoilers ahead.

The world of the Spirit Gate appears to be heavily influenced by Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures. There are four primary cultures. One is an unknown culture that is invading. The other three bear features with similarities ranging from Japan to South Korea to China to Pakistan and points further to the Middle East.

The cultures seem to share the same deity set, albeit with different names and slightly different traditions.

The primary problem is that there is not a significant differentiation in terms of individual character names or cultural features. There are differences, but they are not significant enough to be able to establish which culture is which.

The secondary problem is that I can see no redeeming quality to any of the three known cultures. They all feature some sort of slavery. One is a conquered area. The other is a brutal monarchy with rigid social structures. The third has peace and justice imposed by a set of supernatural Guardians. They apparently are not morally sufficient to pursue peace and justice on their own.

While the fourth culture is brutal, it is hard to identify reasons why the reader should hope for the survival of any of the existing three major cultures.

The same is true of the characters. There are some fairly nice characters involved. Some of them are modestly intriguing. But I found myself without any emotional attachment to any of the characters.

The only one that had any promise died very early in the book. Or did she? I won't be going on to the second book, so I"ll never know.

Another weakness is that the author appears to see armed conflict as simply a tool of conquering and oppression. It just happens without any larger objective being achieved.

One nit pick is the decision to have the eagle riders actually ride from below their eagles. This is an interesting idea if the objective is for the rider to have greater control over the wings. However it is impractical if you understand that birds routinely have their breasts in close proximity to the ground during takeoff and landing. I'm not sure that many riders could survive being smacked into the ground by a giant eagle.

This book could have been better if it had been written in a more condensed version. There is a lot of description that isn't really all that descriptive and most certainly does not move the plot along.

Characters that fail to inspire a strong emotion attachment. Cultures that area without any redeeming qualities. Pointless conflicts. And excess prose that does little to foster the storyline.

Save yourself the trouble and move on to something else.

View all my reviews

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