Nine Gates

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Overview

As evocative and moving as Charles de Lint’s Newford books, with the three-dimensional protagonists and enthralling action of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasies, Nine Gates makes our world today as excitingly strange and unfamiliar as any fantasy realm . . .and transports readers to a wondrous magical world drawn from Chinese lore and legend.

Brenda Morris has barely had time to become accustomed to the idea that she has some of the powers of the Rat, a member of the Chinese Zodiac; ...

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Overview

As evocative and moving as Charles de Lint’s Newford books, with the three-dimensional protagonists and enthralling action of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasies, Nine Gates makes our world today as excitingly strange and unfamiliar as any fantasy realm . . .and transports readers to a wondrous magical world drawn from Chinese lore and legend.

Brenda Morris has barely had time to become accustomed to the idea that she has some of the powers of the Rat, a member of the Chinese Zodiac; that her elderly, former child-star “aunt,” Pearl, is the Dragon; and that the young African-American former soldier she trains beside is the Dog.  Brenda has learned that our world is not the only world and that her not-quite-Chinese ancestors came from a magical place, the Lands of Smoke and Sacrifice, created thousands of years ago by the destruction of China’s books and scholars during the time of the first Emperor.

Now, generations later, the Lands are once again at war, and the magics of the Thirteen Orphans are desperately needed.  A mission to capture those powers went disastrously wrong and now the Lands’ Dragon, Tiger, Snake, and Monkey are trapped on Earth unless the Orphans can build the Nine Gates.  To do that, they must first save the Four Guardians of the land between, who are under magical attack.  Complicating things is the fact that Brenda has fallen hard for the handsome man who is the Tiger, much to the distress of the sensual young woman who is the Snake. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Readers unfamiliar with 2008's Thirteen Orphans may occasionally find themselves lost over some early references to the magical Land of Smoke and Sacrifice in this complex sequel. The Land was inadvertently created from Chinese myths and legends in 213 B.C. Some decades ago a few of its residents were exiled into our world. Now the last surviving Exiles and their descendants face both an invasion of our world and a faceless enemy of great power draining the life from the Land. Weighted down with intricate details of Chinese lore, the pace is slow until the protagonists leave our world and face almost impossible magical challenges, like dealing with a mythical beast whose death might poison the realm. Readers who enjoy martial arts and myth-based settings will be most willing to put up with the extensive backstory and exposition. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Exiled from the Lands of Smoke and Sacrifice, an alternate China where myths live and magic is bound up with the Chinese Zodiac and the game of mah-jongg, the 13 Orphans have diminished in number as cultural ties fall prey to assimilation. Now, war rages in the Lands, and as the Orphans' magic is needed by one of the factions, a delicate truce is forged between invaders from the Lands and the Earth-bound Orphans. VERDICT Drawing upon Chinese myth and legends to create a unique form of spell-casting, the author of the "Firekeeper" series continues the saga that began with Thirteen Orphans, developing ties among characters and capturing the feel of exotic new places and creatures in her depictions of the Land Between and its Four Guardians. Contrasting themes of love and duty, loyalty and ambition, and family and otherness lend a sense of universality to this urban fantasy. A strong choice for readers who enjoy Charles de Lint.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
Magic-users affiliated with the animals of the Chinese zodiac face threats from two universes in this sequel to Thirteen Orphans (2008). When the first emperor of China ordered the destruction of texts and the deaths of hundreds of scholars, most of that country's magic split off into another universe, the Lands Born of Smoke and Sacrifice. One hundred years ago, 12 imperial advisors and the child-emperor returned to our universe, taking a substantial portion of that magic with them; now, warring factions of the Lands want it back. As the descendants of the original 13 prepare to bring the battle to the Lands to forestall an invasion, ruthless magic-users from our world also scheme to add the Thirteen Orphans' magic to their own. Meanwhile, college freshman Brenda Morris, heir to the Rat, must come to terms with the powers of both her Chinese and Celtic heritage, and confront her attraction to her former enemy, the exiled Tiger warrior Flying Claw. Attempting to subvert their potential romance is another exile from the Lands, Honey Dream the Snake, who may yet betray them all. Lindskold's touch is sure, her characterizations complex, her descriptions of magical lands rich and intriguing. Reasonably compelling, though the plot isn't particularly novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765356222
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Series: Breaking the Wall Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 473
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

JANE LINDSKOLD is the bestselling author of the Firekeeper series, which began with Through Wolf’s Eyes and concluded with Wolf’s Blood, as well as many other fantasy novels. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

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Read an Excerpt

1

When the attack began, Pearl Bright already held a sword in her hand. Otherwise, the old Tiger might well have died with the very breath at which she knew she was in danger.

Instead, Pearl pivoted and her blade cut flesh. A head flew from a neck, a stranger’s hot blood jetted forth to dapple her face and throat. The man stumbled back, sword hilt slipping from nerveless fingers as he fell.

Pearl did not wait to see how her assailant landed. There was no way he was ever picking up that sword again, and too much else demanded her attention.

Around her, what had been a quiet private park had become a battlefield in which Pearl and her associates were outmatched and outnumbered. From a rip in the air, a dozen or more men had run forward. They were clad in the armor and bearing the arms of a bygone day, of a China that might never have existed.

This last did not make those blades any less deadly.

As Pearl swung around to assess the situation, she saw the right arm of Righteous Drum the Dragon removed neatly at the shoulder to drop steaming and smoking onto the grass.

The complex ideograph Righteous Drum had been sketching hung metallic yellow in the air for a long moment, then transformed into an explosion of golden light that caught his attacker full in the face, melting skin to bone, bone to ash.

The ideograph had retained its shape long enough for Pearl to read what Righteous Drum had intended.

Great idea, Pearl thought, but I’m going to need a little space before I can pull anything that complex of .

Righteous Drum crumpled to his knees, his eyes glazed as he clapped his remaining hand over the stump of his arm. His pale lips muttered what was hopefully a healing or binding.

Righteous Drum’s daughter, Honey Dream, the Snake, had run to protect her father when he had fallen. She stood with the curving snake’s-fang dagger that was her chosen weapon in her right hand. With her left she was fishing into the cleavage of her low-cut tee shirt, pulling out slips of red paper already inscribed with elaborate charms.

One of these evidently provided some form of protection that covered both father and daughter, as the man who came racing at them, sword raised, a ferocious battle cry on his lips, learned when his downward cut was halted by some unseen barrier. He reeled back, striving to retain his balance.

Honey Dream did not give him time to recover. Another slip of red paper flew, and when it struck the man in the face the eyelids dissolved beneath a wash of virulent green acid.

Didn’t know you’d brought anything that nasty with you, girl, Pearl thought. Wish I was surprised. Hope you’ve got a lot more.

Righteous Drum would be as safe as his daughter could make him. Since Honey Dream had a Snake’s regard for a whole skin, Pearl thought they’d do as well as or better than if she gave them her aid. Her own people were much more vulnerable.

It took Pearl a moment to locate Des Lee, for the Rooster formed the center of a small knot of armored men. Then one of these staggered back, blood streaming from where his eyes should have been, the long raking marks across his face showing what a Rooster’s Talon could do. The momentary glimpse Pearl caught of Des showed that like Honey Dream he had made enhancing his defense his first priority. Swords torn from their wielder’s hands showed that Des had not forgotten the value of disarming one’s opponents.

Pearl decided she was being foolish not to enhance her own defense, and while her mind shaped the sequence that would summon mingled winds and dragons to protect her, she looked for the two most vulnerable members of her company.

Like Des, Riprap was surrounded by a small crowd of armored men. One lay on the ground, his head an ugly ruin. Two others were battering at his defenses while a third stood back, muttering something, his fingers sketching patterns in the air.

Pearl would have run to Riprap’s aid, but at that moment Flying Claw lived up to his name. The young warrior leapt through the air, screaming like the attacking Tiger he was.

The mutterer was cloven from the top of his shoulder right through his chest. The stroke was so violent, and so eficiently delivered, that it made the near-decapitation that resulted seem almost like an afterthought.

Although battles raged on all sides, still the situation seemed oddly under control—with her own side clearly in the ascendance. Pearl began to think she could turn her attention to completing what Righteous Drum had begun.

Then she caught sight of Brenda Morris. For a moment Pearl’s heart went cold in her chest. Then Pearl began to run.

The morning’s activity had not gone at all as Brenda could have wished. First, well aware that the session was going to involve the physical combat training she and Riprap had been agitating for, Brenda had dressed practically—even if jeans and a long-sleeved shirt had meant she was going to feel the July heat and humidity. As a compensation for the heat, she had braided her long, dark brown hair, then twisted it into a knot at the back of her head.

If San Jose, California, hadn’t been a whole lot more clement than her home state of South Carolina, Brenda probably couldn’t have borne the heavier clothing, but she was being practical. When they got to the designated training grounds, there was Honey Dream in all her exotic Oriental beauty. Honey Dream was wearing nothing but shorts and one of those obnoxious tee shirts that showed of why she needed to wear a bra, whereas Brenda could far too easily do without her own.

Something about the sneer that had flickered across Honey Dream’s face told Brenda that the other woman knew perfectly well that Brenda had figured she was going to take a fall or two.

Then, to make matters worse, Flying Claw hadn’t even looked at Brenda beyond of ering a very casual good-morning. He seemed more interested in talking with Riprap about the baseball bat the big black man had brought along to serve as a weapon.

After some warming up and stretching exercises, they’d paired up. Righteous Drum, a square-bodied, slightly overweight man who rather reminded Brenda of Chairman Mao, had chosen Des Lee.

Des’s first name was actually "Desperate" and his appearance was as odd as his given name. Taller than average, lean without being gawky, Des wore both his hair and beard in a fashion that emphasized his ethnic Chinese heritage. His shining black hair was worn in a long queue. His forehead was shaved in a fashion common when both the expansion of the railroads and the California gold rush had drawn Chinese to the United States in record numbers. His long chin beard and wispy mustache emphasized his high cheekbones and beautifully sculptured features.

However, Righteous Drum’s choice of Des as a sparring partner had little to do with Des’s odd appearance. Righteous Drum wanted to see how Des could use the Rooster’s Talons, the odd weapons Des had inherited from his grandmother, to parry thrown spells. Des had been more than happy to oblige, although it was pretty clear that Des intended to get Righteous Drum to show him a trick or two in exchange.

Flying Claw and Riprap were sparring even before the warm-up was formally finished. Waking Lizard, the long-bodied, lean-limbed Monkey, had insisted that Honey Dream begin with him because they could spar spell-to-spell, and Waking Lizard was still stiff from the injuries he had acquired in the course of his narrow escape from the Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice.

That left Brenda to practice with Pearl Bright. On the surface, this should not have been a problem. After all, Brenda was nineteen to Pearl’s seventy-some years

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The second Morris urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller

    Up until recently, college student Brenda Morris had no idea that The Land of Smoke and Sacrifice existed. She has since learned a lot about the fact that Chinese myths were turned into this alternate earth several millennium ago and more stunningly her ancestors crossed over from this place (see THIRTEEN ORPHANS). However the greatest shock is she knows she has some of the powers of the Zodiac Rat; her Aunt Pearl is the Dragon; and her compatriot in training is the Dog. .

    The few surviving Exiles and their descendants have a world crisis as war has ignited inside the Land and threaten to spill over to the earth. The Thirteen Orphans Guardians between worlds are the only ones who can prevent a calamity of pandemic proportions. . However four of them are trapped on this side leaving it to the others to build the Nine Gates and rescue their Guardian comrades in arms.

    The second Morris urban fantasy is an exhilarating thriller based on the Chinese Zodiac that will thrill fans who relish elaborate but somewhat convoluted insight on Chinese mythology; at times the level of minutiae detracts from the otherwise enjoyable plot. The protagonists confront Herculean level challenges that seem impossible for them to succeed. These magical battles make for a fun paradox as the reader wonders how the magnificent nine can win the day against adversaries that if they defeat them they endanger two worlds but if they lose they endanger two worlds.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Recomended

    Great story, a definte re-read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2012

    Why the low rating?

    This is a very well written, interesting series. As a newcomer to the traditional tales of the Chinese zodiac, I found the new creatures and gods very fun to read about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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