Here be Dragons

A great epic fantasy that stands out from the pack, Crossroads should be a must read for most.  Set mostly in a world know as the Hundred, Elliott stands out from the pack in creating unique cultures.  The author spend time actually thinking through how different cultures would act and think, including how each would have divisions within it self.  No pseudo-europian cultures here, each one is hand crafted.  They each have differing opinions on matters such as slavery, women’s roles, and even homosexuality.  It makes for a unique read.

Elliot also writes engaging and interesting characters.  If anyone can be called a main character, Mai would be it.  And through the three books we watch her grow.  Always smart, we see her sold into a marriage, grow into the marriage, and eventually turn into one of the strongest personalities in the book.  Her final chapter in book three endeared her to me greatly.  We also see major growth in Joss, a Reeve(judge and Eagle rider, which is not near as corny as a it sounds in this world), from an alcoholic to reluctant leader.  Perhaps even better, we see some characters grown and change their mind, like one slave trader, while others hold on to their prejudices thorough he whole series.  It makes character growth much more believable.

The pacing of the books should be quick enough that people who prefer action stay involved.  A war sits as the back drop of the whole story, and both sides are shown in the war.  Some soldiers are sadistic, some human, and often they fight on the same side.

I only have a few downsides, and they are minor.  There were a couple of botched editing jobs(and for me to notice them, they were bad).  One was a timeline issue in the first book, the other were a couple conversations in the third where who was speaking got garbled.  I also felt that the second book introduced too many characters that got forgotten in the third.  If a person is given a PoV, I would like to know what happened to them(This may be remedied by new books in the same world at a later time).  Along the same vein, a more complex world was introduced, but never really worked with (Wildlings, firelings, and other “races” are talked about, even seen, but never given the space that is needed).

All those are minor squabbles though, as the entire series is excellent.  Go out and read it!   

Book 1: Spirit Gate
Book 2: Shadow Gate
Book 3: Traitor’s Gate

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