cover image The Spice Gate

The Spice Gate

Prashanth Srivatsa. Harper Voyager, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-326683-4

Srivatsa explores class discrimination in his lush and ambitious debut. Spice is king in the eight kingdoms involved in the Spice Trade, each of which produces one specific spice. To travel between kingdoms one must make the painful passage through a Spice Gate, a task relegated only to the lowest caste, the bearers of the spice mark. One such Carrier is Amir, of the saffron kingdom Raluha. Tired of being treated as society’s punching bag, Amir aims to abandon his duty and go rogue with his family. But for his mother, who does not bear a spice mark, to travel through the Spice Gate, he’ll need to obtain Poison, a rare liquid that allows for painless passage. During one of his trips to the turmeric kingdom of Halmora, Amir meets Fylan, a fatally wounded stranger who claims to be from the secret ninth kingdom of Illindhi. Before dying, Fylan entrusts Amir with an olum, the spice key to Illindhi, and a secret mission. Desperate for a better life far from Raluha, Amir sets out on an arduous journey to a kingdom that might not exist. Srivatsa’s worldbuilding is complex, captivating, and original. The result is a masterful fantasy epic bursting with flavor. (July)