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Tara’s CBR-III Review #1 – Ice Station by Matthew Reilly

First things first, I realise that I am well past the assumed January 7th cutoff date for a first review.

I am a slow reader.

Unbelievably slow.

I read a lot – I just do it slowly. I am always reading something, but that something is often the same book for months on end. I think that the generally slow pace of my reading combined with my tendency to re-read paragraphs that I like over and over again both contribute to the fact that it takes me about twice as long to get through books as normal people. So with that in mind, the goal I have set myself for this year is a book a fortnight. Laugh all you like, but that will be a huge achievement for me.

So without further ado, I present for your enjoyment, my first review.

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One of the things I find fascinating about fantasy is the conflicting political beliefs often contained within the books. Fantasy is often an inherently conservative genre; the protagonists are usually fighting to maintain the status quo by fighting against the evil scourge which seeks to overturn their dearly held traditions. On the other hand, fantasy authors seem to be a socially progressive lot, a conclusion I come to from the moral systems they often have in place in their ‘good’ societies, which I can only assume reflect their own beliefs. It was this conflict that I found to be the most interesting part of Traitors’ Gate by Kate Elliott. The world she created is a fascinatingly varied place, without the usual swords and sorcery tropes that I have come to take for granted.

Traitors’ Gate is the third book in the Crossroads series by Kate Elliott. Walking into the book I assumed that this would be the final book of a trilogy and therefore expected a conclusion to the story, however this is not the case and there is more to come. The story does conclude many of the threads from the previous books, however this is not a happy book for the characters. The resolution of the many of the story threads reminded me of the kind of gut punch with which George R. R. Martin tends to conclude his story arcs, though less masterful in execution.

That being said, I found that while the story itself was well conceived, I was not impressed by the writing. The author is clearly and experienced writer who knows how to construct a pleasing sentence, but I found that much of the book lacked subtlety, in that minor characters would suddenly start getting increased face time not long before something happened to them for better or worse, which tended to make the book somewhat predictable. Also I found that many of the story threads didn’t seem to go anywhere, in particular there were a few romantic subplots between relatively minor characters that didn’t seem to go anywhere, and were resolved satisfactorily but were of no consequence for the rest of the book.

However, overall I enjoyed the book and particularly liked the turns the book took towards the second half, though they sometimes seemed not quite natural, they made the plot much more interesting than it would otherwise have been. Though I can’t quite recommend this book to anyone who isn’t already a fan of the genre, I will pick up the next book in the series when it is released, and the series as a whole was significantly better than other Kate Elliott books that I’ve read.