On a hot summer's day like today Flirt liked to fly straight up along the shoreline of the river, huge wings huffing against the wind.
–Kate Elliot - Spirit Gate - c.2007, 2013
Once The Hundred was a place of peace and safety. The Guardians delivered justice and the reeves flew in answer to them. But no one has seen the Guardians in generations. The reeves still patrol but their authority has been on the wane for quite a while, and now there are reports of attacks on villages. Reeves and their eagles have been murdered. Something dark and troubling is on the rise.
Okay, so that blurb is fairly standard for an epic fantasy, but don’t dismiss this book as a by the numbers story because it is so much more than that.
First off, the world-building is excellent. There are a number of different countries and histories that we are introduced to. The Hundred is where the majority of the characters come from, where most of the action takes place, but there is also the Sirniakan Empire where the genders are sequestered from one another, and there is the land where Mei comes from, now ruled over by Qin warriors, where the family is ruled by the male head.
I have to say I was a bit nonplussed when Show Spoiler ▼
Joss was an interesting character but I didn’t like him as much as Marit.
I did, however, love Mei and her growth as a character. She started out as just a pretty face who was determined not to let the strict boundaries of her life upset her, only for everything to be turned on its head, letting her intelligence and strength of character really shine through.
However, there are a lot of characters, and a lot of hopping about in the timeline. On occasion events will be revisited from another characters point of view, if you don’t like that sort of thing be prepared to be annoyed, I liked it as I found it well done and easy enough to realise when it was happen.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. It was always entertaining and I found myself reading more and more of it. I had to stop myself opening it at the breakfast table as I’d usually read too far and make myself late for work. tut tut tut.
But I did think that the dark enemy rising was a bit nebulous and undefined. I know, this is the story of the characters uncovering the real extent of the danger but I would have liked to know a little more of what was going on.
Not that that will put me off reading on in the slightest. I want to know what’s going to happen to all the characters, especially Mei and Capt. Anji. I loved their relationship. But also I had sort of come round to the character of Joss and his coming to terms with events earlier in his life. Zubaidit is an intriguing character, maybe a little too desirable-by-all1 but maybe we just haven’t seen her interact with enough people. I also thought her relationship with her brother was fascinating. He had done so much, worked so hard, and got something he really hadn’t bargained for.
Before I finish up I want to make a quick mention of slavery and the role it plays in the book. It is one of those topics that readers of today obviously are horrified by, but I thought that Mei’s view of slavery was just perfect. It is part of her culture, she doesn’t believe that slaves aren’t people, but she cannot understand how a society could work without slaves. She owns slaves and yet she is so easy to identify with as a character. And in The Hundred slavery is more of an indentured servitude practice that has become corrupt. I’m looking forward to how that develops in the rest of the series.
it always annoys me when there is a character who can have ANYBODY they want sexually ↩