Kate Elliott embarks on a new fantasy world in Spirit Gate. Review by S.K. Slevinski

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Fast on the heels of the final installment of her traditional fantasy epic, Crown of Stars, Kate Elliott takes readers to a unique new fantasy milieu.

Mai is a young woman in Kartu Town, the tight knit community of her familial clan. She is the daughter of a well-respected merchantóbut this high status brings both privileges and responsibilities. In effort to bend local politics in favor of their clan, Mai's family marries her off to an officer of the Qin, the occupying overlords of Kartu Town. Not only must Mai marry outside the clan, but she must leave Kartu Town to go north with her husband. A fellow clansman, Shai, also accompanies the caravan of Mai and her husband in the hopes of finding the bones of his brother Hari, who died violently away from home and whose soul cannot be at rest until his bones are returned to the resting place of their ancestors. Meanwhile, up north, Joss and his eagle, Scar, patrol the skies as part of a peacekeeping force of reeves. But the reeves find themselves losing their sway, and Joss mourns a lover from his past who died in a mysterious tragedy.

Of all the fantasy authors publishing today, Kate Elliott is perhaps the best at combining intricate world-building with character-grounded concepts. For those who bemoan the advent of "low" or "light" fantasy, Kate Elliott comes to the rescue with a richly conceived high fantasy world of culture and magic. While her Crown of Stars series took its inspiration from the more traditional fantasy milieu of medieval Europe, Spirit Gate explores a tribal clan culture reminiscent of the Asian and Pacific world. Elliott's heritage of medieval fantasy works here in her favor, as she skillfully crafts this less-familiar fantasy world to be approachable for readers of traditional medieval fantasy.

Fans of high fantasy will find Spirit Gate to be the best of both worldsóan intricately detailed world of magic with a fresh cultural perspective.

S.K. Slevinski is senior editor for ARWZ Literary Magazine and a long time reader of alternative reality fiction. She is currently a graduate student, specializing in folklore.

Alternative Reality Web Zine: ISSN# 1559-3037

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