Elliott, Kate 1958–
Elliott, Kate 1958–
(Alis A. Rasmussen)
Born Alis A. Rasmussen, July 27, 1958, in Des Moines, IA; daughter of Gerald R. (an educator and historian) and Sigrid Marie (a homemaker) Rasmussen; married Jay E. Silverstein (an archaeologist); children: three. Education: Attended Lane Community College, 1975-76, and University College of Wales at Bangor, 1977-78; Mills College, B.A., 1980.
Writer. Worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England, 1978-79.
Jaran was named to Locus magazine's 1992 recommended reading list, and Voice of Youth Advocates' Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Novel for Young Adults, 1992; Nebula Award finalist, 1997, for King's Dragon; World Fantasy Award finalist, 1997, for The Golden Key.
"CROWN OF STARS" SERIES
King's Dragon, DAW (New York, NY), 1997.
Prince of Dogs, DAW (New York, NY), 1998.
The Burning Stone, DAW (New York, NY), 1999.
Child of Flame, DAW (New York, NY), 2000.
The Gathering Storm, DAW (New York, NY), 2003.
In the Ruins, DAW (New York, NY), 2005.
Crown of Stars, DAW (New York, NY), 2006.
Jaran, DAW (New York, NY), 1992, tenth anniversary edition, 2002.
An Earthly Crown: The Sword of Heaven, Book One, DAW (New York, NY), 1993.
His Conquering Sword: The Sword of Heaven, Book Two, DAW (New York, NY), 1993.
The Law of Becoming, DAW (New York, NY), 1994
(As Alis A. Rasmussen) The Labyrinth Gate, Baen Books (New York, NY), 1988.
(With Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Robertson) The Golden Key (novel), DAW (New York, NY), 1996.
Spirit Gate: Book One of Crossroads, Tor (New York, NY), 2006.
Author of But Enough about Me! Web log, located at http://kateelliott.livejournal.com. Also contributor of short stories to anthologies, including "My Voice Is in My Sword" for Weird Tales from Shakespeare, edited by Katharine Kerr and Martin Greenberg, DAW Books, 1994; "The Memory of Peace" in Enchanted Forests, edited by Kerr and Greenberg, DAW Books, 1995; "With God to Guide Her" in Return to Avalon, edited by Jennifer Roberson and Greenberg, DAW, 1996; and "A Simple Act of Kindness" in Sorceries, edited by Kerr and Greenberg, HarperCollins.
"HIGHROAD" TRILOGY; AS ALIS A. RASMUSSEN
A Passage of Stars, Bantam Spectra (New York, NY), 1990.
Revolution's Shore, Bantam Spectra (New York, NY), 1990.
The Price of Ransom, Bantam Spectra (New York, NY), 1990.
Magical imagery and mythic societies are characteristic of the writings of Kate Elliott. A respected novelist who published her early work under her real name of Alis A. Rasmussen, Elliott combines science fiction with fantasy to produce what Sandra Brandenburg described in the St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers as books "concerned with culture, how people live, and how their societies work, as well as the high adventure of discovering new pathways to take other than the scientific/technological."
With her first novel, The Labyrinth Gate, the author told the story of an everyday couple who receive a package of Tarot cards. They soon find their deck is stacked—the cards transport them to a fantasy world that the pair must traverse using a real labyrinth. "In this book, as in her later works," Brandenburg noted, the author "has developed highly believable characters and a credible matrilineal society. One is struck by the depth of her people, even in this early work, although she has improved her art with the passage of time."
The "Highroad Trilogy," a 1990 series of novels, details the plight of Lily, a young girl who is imprisoned in Central, a world devoid of music. In the first novel, A Passage of Stars, Lily's companions include Bach 1689, a robot who converses using classical music, Paisley, who Locus reviewer Scott Winnett described as "a tattooed waif," and Lily's martial arts tutor, an exile whom Lily follows into space when he is kidnapped. In Revolution's Shore, Lily appears as a confident young woman who escapes Central after the politically motivated murder of her mentor, Heredes. Lily then travels to Harsh, a prison planet, where she rescues Paisley, who was imprisoned because of his association with her. In another review for Locus, Winnett called Revolution's Shore "a fast-moving adventure story, unencumbered by baggage, uncomplicated, exciting, and completely successful." The Price of Ransom, the concluding novel of the trilogy, depicts Lily as the commander of an antiquated ship called the Forlorn Hope, in which she and her crew attempt to escape the colonized region of space known as the Reft and reach the area of League space that had colonized the area. Lily and her crew encounter a number of setbacks, and then discover that one of their own is a murderer and is being pursued by a bounty hunter. Winnett observed that "Rasmussen's characters are realistic and human … [and] she weaves complex plot threads effortlessly and with style."
The author gained widespread attention with the first novel she wrote under the pseudonym Kate Elliott. Set in an intergalactic future, Jaran chronicles the travels and adventures of Tess Soerensen, the sister of a high-ranking human among the powerful Chapalii alien culture. The Chapaliis control much of space, and Tess's brother has been given his own planet to oversee. In her travels, Tess encounters a nomadic tribe known as the Jaran. With them, she follows some Chapalii, and her adventures with both the Chapalii and the Jaran horsemen add an element of romance to Jaran. Jennifer Langlois, reviewing the work for Voice of Youth Advocates, asserted: "The author successfully changes Tess from a young woman unsure of herself and her future to a person who is sure of who she is and what she wants from life." Kliatt reviewer Sister Avila Lamb remarked: "This wonderful novel possesses the ethical message required in all good fantasy." Reviewing the work for Locus, Carolyn Cushman called Jaran "an impressive first novel," commending Elliott's ability to combine "adventure, romance, and sociological [science fiction] in a readable mix."
Published in 1993, An Earthly Crown: The Sword of Heaven, Book One picks up where Tess left off in Jaran. Now wed to Ilya, the leader of the Jaran forces, Tess becomes inadvertently caught up in a plan to take control of Rhui, the planet controlled by Tess's brother, Charles. Charles is the highest-ranking human in the Chapalii world, but Tess's husband is unaware they are related. Judy Kowalski, reviewing the work for Voice of Youth Advocates, declared that An Earthly Crown "is well-written with characters the reader can care about." Also published in 1993, His Conquering Sword: The Sword of Heaven, Book Two is a continuation of the struggle between the two worlds. Much of Rhui is controlled by the Jaran, while Charles leaves the planet to lead the human rebellion against the Chapalii. Cushman, in a review of His Conquering Sword for Locus, commented: "Like a really good soap opera, this series may move slowly, but it pulls you in with memorable characters and dramatic incidents."
In The Law of Becoming, the fourth novel to chronicle Tess and her adventures, Elliott's characters are still engaged in war. The characters in this 1994 work—some human, others alien; some honorable, others corrupt—battle one another on different fronts. The kidnapping of a leader figures prominently in the plot. Locus writer Cushman commented that The Law of Becoming "has a scope simultaneously awesome and annoying" with its plethora of characters and settings. Yet Cushman praises some of Elliott's characterizations and remarks that the emphasis on nontraditional female behavior, as well as comparisons between a primitive and a developed society, results in a "thoughtfulness [that] makes this worthwhile reading, no matter how unwieldy the plot is at times."
In 1996 Elliott joined forces with fellow sci-fi writers Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson to publish The Golden Key. This "hefty historical fantasy," as a Publishers Weekly reviewer called it, covers life among the Tira Virte, a world led by women. Into this mythic culture comes Sario Grijalva, a male artist/magician who schemes to overtake the society by means of murder. It takes three generations (and authors), but finally, said the Publishers Weekly critic, the book "tidies up Tira Virte, … bloodlessly establishing a constitutional government [and] punishing Sario s villainy with a unique revenge that opens a door to shareduniverse sequels."
A year later the author released King's Dragon, the first volume of a Kate Elliott series called "Crown of Stars." The author draws on her expertise in European medieval history to craft the kingdom of Wendar, where the royal family's civil war threatens to tear society apart. As in The Golden Key, King's Dragon features women in heroic roles. The author manipulates language "just enough to make it both satisfyingly familiar and tangily other," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. That quality is "an indispensable technique in conjuring convincing fictional worlds that never were, but that we, whether young or young in heart, wish could be."
King's Dragon "bodes extremely well" for the future of the Wendar stories, in the opinion contributing Booklist critic Roland Green. With its "exceedingly well built" world and brisk pacing, Green concluded, the "Crown of Stars" novels could "certainly become one of the best multivolume fantasies." In 1998 Elliott produced the second work in the series with Prince of Dogs, which was greeted by Library Journal critic Jackie Cassada as an "engrossing saga [that] should appeal to fantasy lovers and fans of historical epics alike."
Elliott followed The Burning Stone, the third volume in the "Crown of Stars" series, with Child of Flame. The novel concerns the rivalry between King Henry of Wendar and Sanglant, his bastard son. According to Cassada, Elliott blends "magic and intrigue with grandscale storytelling," and a reviewer in Publishers Weekly praised the author's "carefully considered systems of magic and tactics that display more than an average knowledge of military history, religion and folklore." In The Gathering Storm, Sanglant attempts to ally with the griffins as his wife, Liath, returns from a four-year exile. Cassada described the novel as an "intricately plotted, elegantly told tale of a world on the verge of change."
In the Ruins, the series' sixth volume, was called an "absorbing and satisfying" read by Emerald City critic Juliet E. McKenna. McKenna also complimented Elliott's "deftness in handling multiple plot lines. Key characters' paths run in parallel throughout the series, crossing and re-crossing in established and in novel combinations. Such meetings often throw new light on events elsewhere, offering hope or threatening danger while neatly ensuring the reader stays current with developments in everyone's lives." In Crown of Stars, the conclusion to Elliott's epic, follows Sanglant's efforts to legitimize his reign. "The splendidly creative final resolution is a fitting conclusion to what has been a truly inventive series drawing on all the classic strengths of high heroic fantasy," McKenna observed.
"As a writer who makes her entire income from novel writing, I'm fortunate that I love writing both fantasy and science fiction," Elliott noted on her Home Page. "The stories satisfy different elements of my writing personality, so to speak, and there are different challenges in writing each kind of fiction. I love them both."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, February 15, 1997, Roland Green, review of King's Dragon, p. 1008.
Kliatt, September, 1992, Sister Avila Lamb, review of Jaran, p. 20.
Library Journal, January, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Prince of Dogs, p. 149; October 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of Child of Flame, p. 108; Febru- ary 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Gathering Storm, p. 173; October 15, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Spirit Gate: Book One of Crossroads, p. 54.
Locus, December, 1989, Scott Winnett, review of A Passage of Stars, p. 27; May, 1990, Scott Winnett, review of Revolution's Shore, p. 34; November, 1990, Scott Winnett, review of The Price of Ransom, p. 64; May, 1992, Carolyn Cushman, review of Jaran, pp. 33, 36; March, 1993, Carolyn Cushman, review of An Earthly Crown: The Sword of Heaven, Book One; May, 1993, Carolyn Cushman, review of His Conquering Sword: The Sword of Heaven, Book Two, p. 35; September, 1994, Carolyn Cushman, review of The Law of Becoming, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, August 19, 1996, review of The Golden Key, p. 57; January 20, 1997, review of King's Dragon, p. 398; October 2, 2000, review of Child of Flame, p. 64; January 20, 2003, review of The Gathering Storm, p. 62; January 16, 2006, review of Crown of Stars, p. 41; August 14, 2006, review of Spirit Gate, p. 184.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1993, Jennifer Langlois, review of Jaran, p. 348; June, 1993, Judy Kowalski, review of An Earthly Crown, p. 102; April, 2000, review of The Burning Stone, p. 11; August, 2003, review of The Gathering Storm, p. 235; December, 2006, Donna Scanlon, review of Spirit Gate, p. 440.
Emerald City,http://www.emcit.com/ (December, 2005), Juliet E. McKenna, "Epic Tales," review of In the Ruins; (April, 2006), Juliet E. McKenna, "Journey's End," review of Crown of Stars.
Kate Elliott Home Page,http://www.deepgenre.com/kateelliott.com (September 1, 2007).
Official Kate Elliott Web site,http://www.sff.net/people/Kate.Elliott/bio.html (September 1, 2007).