After the earth’s power under her city is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magic to survive in this fresh fantasy novel from the author of the acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.
In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation— the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong secretary Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her own talent—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.
When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose the earth’s power to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese forces, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming San Francisco into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .
Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her already considerable magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.
About the Author
Nebula Award–nominated author Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She’s the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the Blood of Earth trilogy, plus scores of other short stories and poems across a multitude of publications. She shares her household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and three feline overlords.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, but this is my first steampunk read. Cato does a great job with character and plot developement. She captures the flavor of the early 19th century very well. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series.
This is a perfect blend of steampunk and fantasy, with unique, well-thought-out world-building on both sides of the two genres, and wonderfully memorable, lovable characters (Hell-o Mr. Jennings...). I would rank BREATH OF EARTH as a must-read staple of the growing steampunk genre. It's amazing. Read it. Can't wait for the next one!
I am not always as fond of Steampunk as a genre. The authors tend to focus on “cool alternate toys I can imagine” and forget about story. Imaginary technology bores me without an amazing plot and characters I can identify with and cheer for. Breath of Earth has complex characters and plot in abundance. I don’t know which I liked better – the wonderfully diverse and rich characters or the non-stop excitement of the story. The setting is alternate history San Francisco on the eave of the 1906 great earthquake. But this is an America which is ruled by Japanese and Americans and where the magic of geomancers keeps stability in the world. The instability of world affairs, including brutal wars in India and China, sets the stage for the complicated interweaving of the plot. Ingrid Carmichael, our delightful main character, is a strong woman of magic in a patriarchal society that doesn’t believe women can be geomancers. Her mentor and second father Mr. Sakaguchi helps her hide her powers. But her world literally explodes around her when someone targets the of Earth Warden’s Auxiliary. She saves Mr. Sakaguchi, but he is wounded as they are targeted by assassins. With the help of handsome airship pilot Cypress Jennings (romance – yeah!) and his mechanic Fenris, Ingrid must save her mentor, find out who is targeting geomancers and try to prevent the world from literally shaking apart at the seams. The story’s non-stop action turns even more frantic when Ingrid realizes that instead of the solution, she may just be the problem. And that is a very quick and dirty summary which leaves out most of the plot-lines and twists. Between the lively characters, the unabashed use of magic and interwoven plot this was a stay-up-past-your-bedtime read. An instant favorite on my bookshelf, I will happily reread Breath of Earth many times.