Traitor’s Gate (Book Three of Crossroads) by Kate Elliott (book review).

‘Traitors’ Gate’ is the final novel in the ‘Crossroads’ trilogy by Kate Elliott. The events of the last book ended with the army led by Night and her turned Guardians taking over Toskala. Marit, Kirit and Jothinin had finally joined forces in an effort to combat the Guardians and Joss had become the Chief of all the Reeve Halls. Mai had just given birth to her and Anji’s son, Atani, in Indiyabu. In ‘Traitors’ Gate’ all of the characters must join together to fight the turned cloaked Guardians from taking the rest of The Hundred.

Mai has to care for her infant son while dealing with Anji’s steadily increasing control and ambition. Anji’s Sirniakan brothers, who now rule Sirniaka, have stopped trying to assassinate them and have offered them a deal through Anji’s mother. A formidable woman, she wishes for Anji to marry a Sirniakan princess to form a stable alliance. Mai’s Uncle Hari, one of the Guardians enslaved to Night, has also come to her for aid and she decides to protect him in Indiyabu, while Anji and the Qin kill the other turned Guardians.

Bai, the temple spy/assassin, has infiltrated the Guardian Army that marches to take over the major city of Nessumura. Her mission is to kill the turned Guardian Radas, who commands Night’s armies. She installs herself under the leadership of the enemy, Captain Arras, who is another point-of-view character and is the first that gives us insight into the people who have joined this terrible army.

Shai has also been tasked with killing the turned Guardians, as he is one of the few whose mind cannot be read by them. He gets separated from Bai early on and is captured by various different groups and even meets the wildlings and another unseen Guardian who lives in the forests.

Joss, who had been made Chief of the Reeves, has to bring all the Reeve Halls together. A few had been taken over by the Guardians, many have been brought low by the army and one has even closed itself off from all contact with the other halls to become autonomous. Joss knows that, for the first time in their history, the Reeves have to fight in this war to bring about peace instead of just policing it and must convince all the other Reeves to follow him and to join with Anji’s Qin army and The Hundred Army they have been training.

Marit, Kirit and Jothinin have banded together to actively bring down the turned Guardians. First, they have to find the missing Guardian Eyasad, who has not been seen from before Night’s betrayal and convince her to join them as they need five Guardians to kill another. They also alert the Hieros and the Qin on how to truly kill a Guardian and the history behind Night’s betrayal.

I do wish Elliott hadn’t waited until half-way into this third book to reveal the history of the people of The Hundred. Till now there have been numerous mentions of wildlings, lendings, merlings, the four mothers and so on and only now are they explained. There was a basic description and explanation which could really have been better placed in the first book or even a note at the start. The author also repeats certain descriptions of characters every time you meet them which gets a little grating. The only other thing I find hard to understand is the way she describes clothes and races. Though the book is set in a different world, there are distinct races which correspond to our own. It is quite obvious that Kirit would look European and the Qin have a Far East Asian look, but every other character is hard to picture correctly.

The world Elliott builds in these books has been detailed and true to life, each country has its own distinct culture and religion and customs. Every character is nuanced and relatable no matter if they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There are so many point of view characters of all ages, from all walks of life, from the lowest and supposedly unimportant to the key players in the books. Each character reveals a different facet of the world, so you can fully understand every part of what is happening. I feel that I am deeply invested in each and every character I come across and I can fully understand their personality and history and why they make decisions, both good and bad.

‘Traitors’ Gate’ is a fitting conclusion to ‘Crossroads, the ending is inevitable and bittersweet as all the books were. It might frustrate some but I think it was the only way it could have ended, the world is never neat and tidy which is exactly what ‘Crossroads’ has shown us time and again.

Supreethi Salvam

August 2017

(pub: Orbit, 2009. 574 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-835-5

pub: Orbit, 2010. 786 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-836-25)

check out websites: http://www.orbitbooks.netand www.kateelliott.com

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