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Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott(1958- )
Kate Elliott is a penname used by Alis A. Rasmussen who published a three-volume space opera in 1990. As Kate Elliott, she also wrote the science fiction epic Jaran. Learn more about her at Kate Elliott’s website.


The Jaran

The Jaran — (1992-1994) Publisher: In Jaran, the Earth of the future is just one of the planets ruled by the vast Chapalii empire. The volatility of these alien overlords is something with which Tess Soerensen is all too familiar. Her brother, Charles, rebelled against them and was rewarded by being elevated into their interstellar system. Struggling to find her place in the world, Tess sneaks aboard a shuttle bound for Rhui, one of her brother’s planets. On the ground, she joins up with the native jaran people, becoming immersed in their nomadic society and customs. As she grows ever closer to the charismatic jaran ruler, Ilya – who is inflamed by an urgent mission of his own – Tess must choose between her feelings for him and her loyalty to her brother. In An Earthly Crown, the nomadic tribes of the jaran are uniting the settled cities of their homeland one by one. Their charismatic leader, Ilya Bakhtiian, has his loyal wife by his side, but there is something about her he doesn’t know: Tess Soerensen is a human. Back home, her brother, Charles, led an unsuccessful revolt against the all-powerful Chapalii empire. Charles’s insistence that Tess join him is as strong as Ilya’s reluctance to part with his beloved wife – and neither considers that Tess may have her own plans for the future. As three fiercely independent spirits struggle for a solution, the fates of both the human race and the jaran hang in the balance. In His Conquering Sword, the jaran have been taking over towns and bending all non-jaran to the law of their rule. With Ilya Bakhtiian in charge, the nomadic fighters are now preparing an assault on the royal city of Karkand. But within the campaign, another struggle looms. Charles, the brother of Ilya’s wife, Tess, is still driven by thoughts of revolt. Charles travels to Rhui for key information about the past, hoping to bring back his sister – his only heir. And in The Law of Becoming, Charles Soerensen’s revolutionary inclinations have been reignited. In this final book, the story of Tess, Ilya, and Charles comes to its stunning conclusion as new generations get involved in the intrigue, Earth’s exiled jaran people resurface, and the Chapalii overlords make one last, unexpected move.

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Jaran: A truly charming tale

Jaran by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott is best known as an epic fantasy writer. Her books are powerful and sprawling. Her characters are well developed and emotionally intense. Her writing pulls it all together so perfectly. She’s an author that, no matter what flaws I might find with her books, I always tend to enjoy. Jaran is no different. It’s not a perfect novel, but it’s mighty enjoyable, despite that.

Jaran is billed as a SciFi, but it’s really an epic fantasy book with hints of SciFi thrown in to make things interesting. Jaran starts with Tess in a futuristic galaxy and she ends up on a very behind-the-technological-times planet. She’s highly placed in the governmental order of things, as her brother is an important Duke who has been fighting for human rights against the alien Chapalii. Tess stands to inherit all of that, but her discomfort with the position and her ... Read More

The Golden Key

The Golden Key — (1996,2011) Melanie RawnKate Elliott & Jennifer Roberson. A self-contained trilogy written as three parts (by three authors) and published in one volume. World Fantasy Award finalist for Best Novel 1996, Voya’s 1996 Best SF, Fantasy, and Horror Books of the Year, Locus Recommended Reading List 1996. Publisher: The Golden Key is a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration on a level never before attempted in fantasy literature, a work which magnificently melds the talents of three of the finest and most original writers in the field today. Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott have combines their special strengths to create a complex, fully realized civilization in which one very unique family guards a secret which could turn their entire world upside down. In the duchy of Tira Virte fine art is prized above all things, both for its beauty and as a binding legal record of everything from marriages and births to treaties and inheritances. And although the Grand Duke is aware that there is more to the paintings of certain master limners than meets the eye, not even he knows just how extraordinary the art ofthe Grijalva family truly is. For certain males of their bloodline are born with a frightening, magical talent — the ability to manipulate time and reality within their paintings, a Gift which enables them to alter events and influence people in the real world. Always, their power has been used solely to aid Tira Virte and its ruler. Always, until the time of Sario Grijalva. Sario, driven by his own passion and ambition, has learned to use his Gift in a whole new way. Obsessed with both his magic and his beautiful, adored cousin Saavedra, Sario will do anything to win her love. Unable to bear it when Saavedra gives her heart to another, he takes a first, fateful step beyond the boundaries previously placed on the Grijalva spell-casting, capturing his cousin with forbidden arts. And it is this rash, dangerous act which sets in motion the generations-spanning pattern of treachery and betrayal which may cause both the Grijalvas and Tira Virte to pay a terrible price…

The Diviner is Melanie Rawn’s prequel.

The Golden Key Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott, Jenifer Roberson fantasy book reviewMelanie Rawn The Diviner fantasy book reviews

The Golden Key: Hard to put down

The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott

Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott collaborate here to create a novel that is very hard to put down — despite its formidable length and flattish characters. What drew me in was the carefully designed world, the totally believable magic, the overall mood, and the centuries-spanning plot. This novel is set in Tirra Virte, an Italy-ish province where all official ceremonies and transactions are recorded not with words but with paintings. I thought for a moment — "Hey! that can't be reliable! The artist can paint something that didn't really happen!" But then it made me realize just how unreliable words, too, can be. A scribe can write lies as easily as an artist can paint them.

This art-centered world, of course, requires artists. This novel follows the rising and falling fortunes of one family of ... Read More

Crown of Stars

Crown of Stars — (1997-2006) Publisher: In the kingdom of Wendar, strange and dreadful portents sweep across the land: old ruins appear whole under the light of the full moon; the shades of dead elves hunt in the deep forest; dark spirits walk abroad in daylight; a saint appears to the faithful; hummings rise from the stonecircles, called crowns, that stand in ancient places of power. The Lost Ones — elves known as the Aoi, who vanished from human sight centuries before — speak through fire to those few who can hear them. Civil war between King Henry and his sister Sabella threatens the kingdom, and barbarians — the inhuman Eika raiders who strike from the northern seas and the Quman horsemen, the “winged” riders, who raid from the east — loot and burn farms and villages. Into the midst of these troubles walk three young people: Sanglant, Liath, and Alain. Sanglant is a prince, bastard son of King Henry. Born and bred to become captain of the elite cavalry — the King’s Dragons — and to give his life to protect his father’s kingdom, he cannot know the terrible fate that awaits him. Liath is the child of sorcerers, trained as a mathematici, one who knows the secrets of the stars. But she and her father have been running for their lives for the past eight years, and soon that which hunts them is going to catch up. Alain is a fosterling, seeking the truth of his parentage. Only when he accepts his destiny will he learn the truth.

Kate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of StarsKate Elliott Crown of Stars King's Dragon, Prince of Dogs, The Burning Stone, Child of Flame, The Gathering Storm, In the Ruins, Crown of Stars

Crown of Stars: Stunning in scale and complexity

CROWN OF STARS by Kate Elliott

CROWN OF STARS is well-thought out and obviously well-planned. It’s epic in scope and it’s got a lot of texture. There are many complex characters who we follow in parallel, as in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. Some of them are very likeable, and there are some really excellent villains (e.g., Hugh). Kate Elliott's creatures are imaginative and enjoyable, and I especially liked the way they interact with the humans. Ms. Elliott uses a lot of description and intricate world-building and therefore her plot moves very slowly (again, similar to WOT).

The writing was inconsistent throughout the series. Sometimes it seems brilliant, but at other times I'd think “why did she tell me that?” or “this could be moving a little faster.” It’s often w... Read More


Crossroads — (2006-2009) Publisher: World Fantasy and Nebula Award finalist Kate Elliott breaks new ground in a brilliantly original new fantasy set in a unique world of fabled cities, mysterious gods, and terrible dangers. From the first page readers will be swept up in the story of Mai and Captain Anji, as they become unwitting players in a conflict that began many years earlier, and which will shake the foundations of their land. For hundreds of years the Guardians have ruled the world of the Hundred, but these powerful gods no longer exert their will on the world. Only the reeves, who patrol on enormous eagles, still represent the Guardians’ power. And the reeves are losing their authority; for there is a dark shadow across the land that not even the reeves can stop.

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Crossroads: Richly detailed and realistically heterogeneous worlds


Kate Elliott’s CROSSROADS TRILOGY, the first 3 books in a multi-book series, is a great example of how good epic fantasy can be in so many ways: its world-building is richly detailed and realistically heterogeneous; it has a multitude of characters spanning a wide spectrum of human nature and behavior, most of them nicely individualized; its depiction of war is grimly and painfully realistic; the plot contains some pleasantly surprising turns along the way; its fantastic elements don’t overwhelm the plot and are interesting in their own right; it has layers of complexity versus the all-too-frequent good vs. evil storyline; and it comes to a resolution despite being part of a larger series.

Despite all of this, I have to confess that I found more to admire than to enjoy in the reading, so much so that it was a struggle to fin... Read More

Shadow Gate: This series is shaping up to be Elliott’s best work

Shadow Gate by Kate Elliott

Giant eagles and their reeves who patrol the skies as peacekeepers. Nine Guardians blessed by the Seven Gods to bring justice to the land of the Hundred who have mysteriously vanished. A Qin captain, his young bride and a company of soldiers forced into exile. A slave of twelve years who schemes to buy out his debt as well as his sister’s. An outlander — the youngest and least-favored of seven sons — who can see and hear ghosts goes on a quest in search of his uncle’s bones. A handsome reeve haunted by his lover’s death. And an army of thieves, murderers and other malcontents who threaten the Hundred from the north. These are just a few of the concepts, characters, and storylines introduced in Spirit Gate, the opening chapter in a new epic fantasy series by Kate Elliott who previously brought readers the Jaran science fiction novels, The Golden Key collabor... Read More


Spiritwalker — (2010-2013) From one of the genre’s finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle. It is the dawn of a new age… The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy. Cat and Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can’t be trusted, who can you trust?

Kate Elliott Spiritwalker 1. Cold Magic 2. Cold FireKate Elliott Spiritwalker 1. Cold Magic 2. Cold Firefantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Cold Magic: A cold and exhilarating roller-coaster ride

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

I feel like I've been waiting a very long time to read and comment on this book, not only because it was recommended to me ages ago, but because it contained everything I love in a novel (which have been missing from various other books on my reading list for quite a while). Not only a complex and appealing female lead, but also a strong bond between two women which makes up the emotional centre of the narrative, solid and fascinating world-building, political intrigue on a wide scale, an emphasis on the female gaze, beautiful prose, lots of diversity, a dash of steampunk and plenty of witty insights strewn throughout its significant length.

That's the perfect recipe for a great book.

Admittedly a little slow to start with, the reader is introduced to Catherine Hassi Barahal, a young orphaned teenager living with her aunt, uncle and extended family in modest dwellings, who attends universi... Read More

Cold Fire: A strong second instalment in what promises to be a great trilogy

Cold Fire by Kate Elliott

This is the second book in Kate Elliott's SPIRIT WALKER trilogy, preceded by Cold Magic and concluded in Cold Steel, but which manages to avoid most of the pitfalls inherent in many second installments. It's a direct continuation of the previous book (making it impossible to start reading with this one) and there's still a long way to go till the finish line, but despite ending on something of a cliff-hanger, it still delivers a relatively satisfying story-arc with a climactic finish and a sense of completeness.

Catherine Bell Barahal has been having a rough year. Married against her will to an aristocratic Cold Mage in her cousin's place, she not only learns that her parentage isn't what she thought it was, but that (having realized that she isn't the bride that was promised them) her husband's family now want her dead. Fleeing for her safety and discovering her roots provid... Read More

Cold Steel: A rousing and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott

The third and final book of Kate Elliott's SPIRITWALKER trilogyfinishes with a bang, wrapping up most of its storylines and myriad of subplots, but also leaving enough room for Elliott to revisit this world and its inhabitants if she so chooses. Preceded by Cold Magic and Cold Fire, this final installment picks up right where it left off: with protagonist Catherine Bell Barahal (or Cat as she's better known) is in the midst of a desperate search to rescue her husband Andevai from the spirit world, having been kidnapped by her own father and the Wild Hunt that rides at his command.

At this stage, there's no point trying to jump into the story without first having read the first two books in the trilogy. All three books are closely intertwined and each builds upon the last when it comes to crafting a full story of immense scope and detail. By this point Cat is beset on all sides by a... Read More

Court of Fives

Court of Fives — (2015- ) Young Adult. In this imaginative escape into enthralling new lands, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors — one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy — causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBuried Heart (Court of Fives) Kindle Edition by Kate Elliott

Related novellas:
Bright Thrones: A Court of Fives Novella Kindle Edition by Kate Elliott

Night Flower: Romantic and bittersweet prequel

Night Flower by Kate Elliott

Night Flower, currently only available online, is a prequel novella to Court of Fives, the first book in Kate Elliott’s YA fantasy trilogy (also titled COURT OF FIVES). The relationship between Doma Kiya and Captain Esladas — the parents of Jessamy, teenaged Fives adversary and central figure of the trilogy — is a matter of speculation for many, especially the Saroese nobles who view this pairing with disgust and disdain. In this novella, Elliott takes readers back to when Kiya and Esladas first set foot in the city of Saryenia, when they were young and seeking their fortunes, and reveals the circumstances which drew them together.

Newly arrived in Saryenia with a small group of comrades from Old Saro, Esladas immediately sets about deter... Read More

Court of Fives: The dangers of imperialism, racism, and ambition

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott has a well-deserved reputation for writing excellent science-fiction and fantasy for adults. Her characters, world-building, and societies are not only entertaining but well-crafted. It seems only natural that, at some point in her career, she would try her hand at Young Adult fiction. The result is Court of Fives, the first in a planned fantasy trilogy which is sure to appeal to younger readers as well as Elliott’s established fan base. While I’ve seen the novel described as “YA meets Game of Thrones,” Elliott herself has said, “I prefer Little Women meets American Ninja Warrior,” which is far more relevant to my personal interests (and a more unique combination).

A quick note for readers who may not be aware: A... Read More

Poisoned Blade: Will Efea rise?

Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Warning: may contain mild spoilers for the previous book, Court of Fives

In Poisoned Blade, the second novel in her COURT OF FIVES trilogy, Kate Elliott builds on the strengths of Court of Fives and expands upon it, weaving tangled webs of intrigue, deceit, and impressively multi-layered political schemes. Anyone who thinks Young Adult fiction can’t successfully handle themes like a culture’s endurance in defiance of colonialism, the myriad socio-economic factors leading toward revolution, or racial and/or gender inequality, needs to read these books: Elliott covers these issues and much more while crafting a compelling narrative, interesting ... Read More

Buried Heart: Forced to pick a side

Buried Heart by Kate Elliott

In Night Flower, Kiya and Esladas met and fell in love, beginning a journey that would, eventually, shake the city of Saryenia to its very foundation. In Court of Fives, their daughter Jessamy got her heart’s desire, the chance to train as a Court of Fives runner, at the cost of her family’s safety. In Poisoned Blade, Jes did everything she could to reunite her loved ones while rooting out royal corruption, but it wasn’t enough. In Bright Thrones, Jes’ twin Bettany put her depthless anger to good use and gave new purpose to her li... Read More

Bright Thrones: Whatever happened to Bettany?

Bright Thrones by Kate Elliott

The Bright Thrones novella (2017) ties up some loose threads left after the conclusion of Poisoned Blade, the second book in Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES trilogy. In the middle of that novel, Jessamy reunites briefly with her twin sister, Bettany, who appears to be in servitude to a famous foreign doctor, Lord Agalar. Very little about their strange situation is explained at the time, and circumstances drive the sisters apart just when it seems that a reunification (though certainly not a reconciliation) might be possible.

Most of Bright Thrones takes place before Bettany and Jes meet up at the royal family’s tombs; the novella reveals quite ... Read More

Black Wolves: The hearts and minds of Elliott’s characters are wonderful

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

I’m not going to spend much time summarizing the plot of Kate Elliott’s epic fantasy Black Wolves. I don’t think I could. Black Wolves (2015)is the first book of a series, also called BLACK WOLVES. It is 780 pages long, and the story spans nearly fifty years (although there is a large gap in the timeline). It involves a nation called the Hundred, which sits on the northern border of a large, powerful empire. It involves the murder of a king, the crowning of another, and a dynastic dispute between two queens. It involves a shift away from indigenous beliefs to a state-sponsored religion imported from the Empire — and a corrupt priesthood. It includes people from various cultures who have come to the Hundred at various points in history, and the “dem... Read More

The Very Best of Kate Elliott: An excellent display of talent and range

The Very Best of Kate Elliott by Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott is a prolific writer, producing over twenty fantasy and science fiction novels and several highly-acclaimed short stories in the last three decades. This year alone will see the publication of not only The Very Best of Kate Elliott, a collection of twelve short stories and four essays, but also two new novels: Court of Fives and The Black Wolves, and Elliott shows no signs of slowing her output in the future. Thus it was with some prickliness that I began reading The Very Best of Kate Elliott, thinking that the title would prove to be ambitious at best (and disappointingly superlative at worst).

The introduction provides insight into Elliott’s progression from young reader to mature writer of fi... Read More

Magazine Monday: Apex Magazine, Issues 44 and 45

Issue 44 of Apex Magazine leads off with “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster. It would take a hard heart to resist a story that starts like this: “Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair.” In the world Foster has created, one can become a god when the Karma Committee appears at her door bearing prizes akin to the Publishers Clearinghouse bonanza. Trixie uses her power to get rid of the jerks who write sexist, homophobic or racial comments on public internet forums. Can we all agree that we really need a goddess like this? But the work is growing less satisfactory lately; Trixie is having a mid-goddess crisis. The story is about how she gets past it, and it is as satisfying as it is funny.

Lettie Prell’s “The Performance Artist” asks serious questions about what constitutes life in a world where people can do... Read More

A Fantasy Medley: Wish it was longer

A Fantasy Medley edited by Yanni Kuznia

FORMAT/INFO: A Fantasy Medley is 136 pages long divided over four short stories and is published by Subterranean Press in two editions: A fully clothbound hardcover limited to 3000 copies and a numbered hardcover limited to 200 copies and signed by the authors and editor. Dust jacket by Kristy Doherty.


1) “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” by Kelley Armstrong. “Zen and the Art of Vampirism” is an urban fantasy tale with all of the usual trimmings including a female protagonist, a contemporary setting, supernatural elements, humor, etc. The story is actually pretty interesting and follows a lesbian Japanese vampire who uses wits instead of violence to prevent two o... Read More

Epic: Legends of Fantasy: Lives up to its title

Epic: Legends of Fantasy by John Joseph Adams (editor)

Epic: Legends of Fantasy, edited by John Joseph Adams, is an anthology of stories written by some of the biggest names in epic fantasy. The book clocks in at over 600 pages not just because it’s very difficult to tell short epic stories (though some of these authors do manage to pull it off) but because here the authors are not just telling epic legends, they are legends in and of themselves. George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, Paolo Bacigalupi, Brandon Sanderson, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kate Elliott, Orson Scott Card, Tad Williams, Aliette de Bodard, Michael Moorcock, Melanie Rawn, Mary Robinette Kowal, N.K. Jemisin, Carrie Vaughn, Trudi Canavan,  and Juliet Marillier all contributed stories to this volume.

Epic: Legends of Fantasy opens with a novella by Robin... Read More

World Fantasy Convention 2011: Day Two

I'm reporting about Day 2 today. Read about Day One here.

There were lots of interesting panels today, and it was frustrating to try to boil them down into the ones I wanted to see.

My first choice was “Retelling Old Stories: The New Fairy Tales.” I’ve got all the modern fairy tale collections edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow and many other rewritings, so I was eager to hear this discussion, and it didn’t disappoint. The first question addressed by the panel was the obvious one: why rewrite fairy tales? Jessica Day George Read More