"Spirit Gate" is the first book in the "Crossroads" series by Kate Elliot. I don't remember how I stumbled across her work, but I was captivated by this book, and I'm glad I did!
"Spirit Gate" introduces us to the land of the Hundred. A land that was protected by the immortal Guardians, but no one has seen them for some time. Now the only agents of justice are the Eagle Reeves, humans who have each bonded with a giant eagle and travel the land settling disputes. They have been stretched to their limits and beyond however, and they were never meant to do the job with out the umbrella of the Guardians over them.
Now, due to the absence of the Guardians, the Hundred begins to fall under a dark shadow. Lawlessness begins to break loose, and people actually begin to not only mistrust the Reeves, but to attack them as well! It's a perilous situation and the solution will not come easily.
While this is going on we also meet a young girl named Mai, the flower of her family, she works each day tending their market stall in a land far outside the Hundred. One day a soldier, one of the men occupying her home town, comes to her stall and her world changes forever. Before she quite knows what's happening she finds herself married to the soldier, and along with her father's youngest brother and few slaves, traveling with the soldiers towards the land of the Hundred.
"Spirit Gate" is an epic journey full of plot twists, excellent character development, and plenty to excite the imagination. I'm really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, and more books by this author for that matter!