Cold Magic (Spiritwalker Trilogy #1)

Cold Magic (Spiritwalker Trilogy #1)

by Kate Elliott

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316080873
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 08/01/2011
Series: Spiritwalker Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 665,433
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Kate Elliott is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Novels of the Jaran and, most recently, the Crossroads fantasy series. King's Dragon, the first novel in the Crown of Stars series, was a Nebula Award finalist; The Golden Key (with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson) was a World Fantasy Award finalist. Born in Oregon, she lives in Hawaii. Find out more about the author at www.kateelliott.com or on twitter @KateElliottSFF.

Read an Excerpt

Cold Magic


By Elliott, Kate

Orbit

Copyright © 2010 Elliott, Kate
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316080859

1

The history of the world begins in ice, and it will end in ice.

Or at least, that’s how the dawn chill felt in the bedchamber as I shrugged out from beneath the cozy feather comforter under which my cousin and I slept. I winced as I set my feet on the brutally cold wood floor. Any warmth from last evening’s fire was long gone. At this early hour, Cook would just be getting the kitchen’s stove going again, two floors below. But last night I had slipped a book out of my uncle’s parlor and brought it to read in my bedchamber by candlelight, even though we were expressly forbidden from doing so. He had even made us sign a little contract stating that we had permission to read my father’s journals and the other books in the parlor as long as we stayed in the parlor and did not waste expensive candlelight to do so. I had to put the book back before he noticed it was gone, or the cold would be the least of my troubles.

After all the years sharing a bed with my cousin Beatrice, I knew Bee was such a heavy sleeper that I could have jumped up and down on the bed without waking her. I had tried it more than once. So I left her behind and picked out suitable clothing from the wardrobe: fresh drawers, two layers of stockings, and a knee-length chemise over which I bound a fitted wool bodice. I fumblingly laced on two petticoats and a cutaway overskirt, blowing on my fingers to warm them, and over it buttoned a tight-fitting, hip-length jacket cut in last year’s fashionable style.

With my walking boots and the purloined book in hand, I cracked the door and ventured out onto the second-floor landing to listen. No noise came from my aunt and uncle’s chamber, and the little girls, in the nursery on the third floor above, were almost certainly still asleep. But the governess who slept upstairs with them would be rousing soon, and my uncle and his factotum were usually up before dawn. They were the ones I absolutely had to avoid.

I crept down to the first-floor landing and paused there, peering over the railing to survey the empty foyer on the ground floor below. Next to me, a rack of swords, the badge of the Hassi Barahal family tradition, lined the wall. Alongside the rack stood our house mirror, in whose reflection I could see both myself and the threads of magic knit through the house. Uncle and Aunt were important people in their own way. As local representatives of the far-flung Hassi Barahal clan, they discreetly bought and sold information, and in return might receive such luxuries as a cawl—a protective spell bound over the house by a drua—or door and window locks sealed by a blacksmith to keep out unwanted visitors.

I closed my eyes and listened down those threads of magic to trace the stirring of activity in the house: our man-of-all-work, Pompey, priming the pump in the garden; Cook and Aunt Tilly in the kitchen cracking eggs and wielding spoons as they began the day’s baking. A whiff of smoke tickled my nose. The tread of feet marked the approach of the maidservant, Callie, from the back. By the front door, she began sweeping the foyer. I stood perfectly still, as if I were part of the railing, and she did not look up as she swept back the way she had come until she was out of my sight.

Abruptly, my uncle coughed behind me.

I whirled, but there was no one there, just the empty passage and the stairs leading up to the bedchambers and attic beyond. Two closed doors led off the first-floor landing: one to the parlor and one to my uncle’s private office, where we girls were never allowed to set foot. I pressed my ear against the office door to make sure he was in his office and not in the parlor. My hand was beginning to ache from clutching my boots and the book so tightly.

“You have no appointment,” he said in his gruff voice, pitched low because of the early hour. “My factotum says he did not let you in by the back door.”

“I came in through the window, maester.” The voice was husky, as if scraped raw from illness. “My apologies for the intrusion, but my business is a delicate one. I am come from overseas. Indeed, I just arrived, on the airship from Expedition.”

“The airship! From Expedition!”

“You find it incredible, I’m sure. Ours is only the second successful transoceanic flight.”

“Incredible,” murmured Uncle.

Incredible? I thought. It was astounding. I shifted so as to hear better as Uncle went on.

“But you’ll find a mixed reception for such innovations here in Adurnam.”

“We know the risks. But that is not my personal business. I was given your name before I left Expedition. I was told we have a mutual interest in certain Iberian merchandise.”

Uncle’s voice got sharper without getting louder. “The war is over.”

“The war is never over.”

“Are you behind the current restlessness infecting the city’s populace? Poets declaim radical ideas on the street, and the prince dares not silence them. The common folk are like maddened wasps, buzzing, eager to sting.”

“I’ve nothing to do with any of that,” insisted the mysterious visitor. Too bad! I thought. “I was told you would be able to help me write a letter, in code.”

My heart raced, and I held my breath so as not to miss a word. Was I about to tumble onto a family secret that Bee and I were not yet old enough to be trusted with? But Uncle’s voice was clipped and disapproving, and his answer sadly prosaic.

“I do not write letters in code. Your sources are out of date. Also, I am legally obligated to stay well away from any Iberian merchandise of the kind you may wish to discuss.”

“Will you close your eyes when the rising light marks the dawn of a new world?”

Uncle’s exasperation was as sharp as a fire being extinguished by a blast of damp wind, but my curiosity was aflame. “Aren’t those the words being said by the radicals’ poet, the one who declaims every evening on Northgate Road? I say, we should fear the end of the orderly world we know. We should fear being swallowed by storm and flood until we are drowned in a watery abyss of our own making.”

“Spoken like a Phoenician,” said the visitor with a low laugh that made me pinch my lips together in anger.

“We are called Kena’ani, not Phoenician,” retorted my uncle stiffly.

“I will call you whatever you wish, if you will only aid me with what I need, as I was assured you could do.”

“I cannot. That is the end of it.”

The visitor sighed. “If you will not aid our cause out of loyalty, perhaps I can offer you money. I observe your threadbare furnishings and the lack of a fire in your hearth on this bitter-cold dawn. A man of your importance ought to be using fine beeswax rather than cheap tallow candles. Better yet, he ought to have a better design of oil lamp or even the new indoor gaslight to burn away the shadows of night. I have gold. I suspect you could use it to sweeten the trials of your daily life, in exchange for the information I need.”

I expected Uncle to lose his temper—he so often did—but he did not raise his voice. “I and my kin are bound by hands stronger than my own, by an unbreakable contract. I cannot help you. Please go, before you bring trouble to this house, where it is not wanted.”

“So be it. I’ll take my leave.”

The latch scraped on the back window that overlooked the narrow garden behind our house. Hinges creaked, for this time of year the window was never oiled or opened. An agile person could climb from the window out onto a stout limb to the wall; Bee and I had done it often enough. I heard the window thump closed.

Uncle said, “We’ll need those locks looked at by a blacksmith. I can’t imagine how anyone could have gotten that window open when we were promised no one but a cold mage could break the seal. Ei! Another expense, when we have little enough money for heat and light with winter blowing in. He spoke truly enough.”

I had not heard Factotum Evved until he spoke from the office, somewhere near Uncle. “Do you regret not being able to aid him, Jonatan?”

“What use are regrets? We do what we must.”

“So we do,” agreed Evved. “Best if I go make sure he actually leaves and doesn’t lurk around to break in and steal something later.”

His tread approached the door on which I had forgotten I was leaning. I bolted to the parlor door, opened it, and slipped inside, shutting the door quietly just as I heard the other door being opened. He walked on. He hadn’t heard or seen me.

It was one of my chief pleasures to contemplate the mysterious visitors who came and went and make up stories about them. Uncle’s business was the business of the Hassi Barahal clan. Still being underage, Bee and I were not privy to their secrets, although all adult Hassi Barahals who possessed a sound mind and body owed the family their service. All people are bound by ties and obligations, and the most binding ties of all are those between kin. That was why I kept stealing books out of the parlor and returning them. For the only books I ever took were my father’s journals. Didn’t I have some right to them, being that they, and I, were all that remained of him?

Feeling my way by touch, I set my boots by a chair and placed the journal on the big table. Then I crept to the bow window to haul aside the heavy winter curtains so I would have light. All eight mending baskets were set neatly in a row on the narrow side table, for the women of the house—Aunt Tilly, me, Beatrice, her little sisters, our governess, Cook, and Callie—would sit in the parlor in the evening and sew while Uncle or Evved read aloud from a book and Pompey trimmed the candle wicks. But it was the bound book of slate tablets resting beneath my mending basket that drew my horrified gaze. How had I forgotten that? I had an essay due today for my academy college seminar on history, and I hadn’t yet finished it.

Last night, I had tucked fingerless writing gloves and a slate pencil on top of my mending basket. I drew on the gloves and pulled the bound tablets out from under the basket. With a sigh, I sat down at the big table with the slate pencil in my left hand. But as I began reading back through the words to find my place, my mind leaped back to the conversation I had just overheard. The rising light marks the dawn of a new world, the visitor had said; or the end of the orderly world we know, my uncle had retorted.

I shivered in the cold room. The war is never over. That had sounded ominous, but such words did not surprise me: Europa had fractured into multiple principalities, territories, lordships, and city-states after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the year 1000 and had stayed that way for the last eight hundred years and more; there was always a little war or border incident somewhere. But worlds do not begin and end in the steady mud of daily life, even if that mud involves too many petty wars, cattle raids, duels, feuds, legal suits, and shaky alliances for even a scholar to remember. I could not help but think the two men were speaking in a deeper code, wreathed in secrets. I was sure that somewhere out there lay hidden the story of what we are not meant to know.

The history of the world begins in ice, and it will end in ice. So sing the Celtic bards and Mande djeliw of the north whose songs tell us where we came from and what ties and obligations bind us. The Roman historians, on the other hand, claimed that fire erupting from beneath the bones of the earth formed us and will consume us in the end, but who can trust what the Romans say? Everything they said was used to justify their desire to make war and conquer other people who were doing nothing but minding their own business. The scribes of my own Kena’ani people, named Phoenicians by the lying Romans, wrote that in the beginning existed water without limit, boundless and still. When currents stirred the waters, they birthed conflict and out of conflict the world was created. What will come at the end, the ancient sages added, cannot be known even by the gods.

The rising light marks the dawn of a new world. I’d heard those words before. The Northgate Poet used the phrase as part of his nightly declamation when he railed against princes and lords and rich men who misused their rank and wealth for selfish purposes. But I had recently read a similar phrase in my father’s journals. Not the one I’d taken out last night. I’d sneaked that one upstairs because I had wanted to reread an amusing story he’d told about encountering a saber-toothed cat in a hat shop. Somewhere in his journals, my father had recounted a story about the world’s beginning, or about something that had happened “at the dawn of the world.” And there was light. Or was it lightning?

I rose and went to the bookshelves that filled one wall of the parlor: my uncle’s precious collection. My father’s journals held pride of place at the center. I drew my fingers along the numbered volumes until I reached the one I wanted. The big bow window had a window seat furnished with a long plush seat cushion, and I settled there with my back padded by the thick winter curtain I’d opened. No fire crackled in the circulating stove set into the hearth, as it did after supper when we sewed. The chill air breathed through the paned windows. I pulled the curtains around my body for warmth and angled the book so the page caught what there was of cloud-shrouded light on an October morning promising yet another freezing day.

In the end I always came back to my father’s journals. Except for the locket I wore around my neck, they were all I had left of him and my mother. When I read the words he had written long ago, it was as if he were speaking to me, in his cheerful voice that was now only a faint memory from my earliest years.

Here, little cat, I’ve found a story for you, he would say as I snuggled into his lap, squirming with anticipation. Keep your lips sealed. Keep your ears open. Sit very, very still so no one will see you. It will be like you’re not here but in another place, a place very far away that’s a secret between you and me and your mama. Here we go!



Continues...

Excerpted from Cold Magic by Elliott, Kate Copyright © 2010 by Elliott, Kate. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Cold Magic 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 126 reviews.
LadyHester More than 1 year ago
Rarely do you read a book that immediately grips your imagination and your heart. This one does both. Cold Magic is amazing! I could not put this one down and read like a maniac. The heroine is stunning, relentless and courageous. The characters are out of this world! Action, adventure, magic, danger, romance, this book has it all! I am eagerly awaiting book 2.
Anzabel More than 1 year ago
Kate Elliot is an excellent author. She has a strong command of the language and portrays her world clearly and with much detail. Though well written, it isn't entirely adult-oriented. Cat is twenty, and there isn't any graphic violence or sexuality or anything inappropriate for a young reader. She builds an interesting alternative world, at the cusp of total industrialization (there are airships of sorts, but rifles are rare). The plot itself is intricate and woven carefully, but it wasn't perfect. It follows a pretty basic storyline. The world is original, and the characters are relatively her own. Cat, the protagonist, is young and fiery, but by the end I was wishing she would just chill out and admit she was in love with the love interest! Some reviewers (from amazon) complained about the love interest's arrogance and abraisiveness. I have to say I was more irritated by the way Elliott described it than anything else. In every sentence concerning him, she would include "arrogant" in it. For example, "his lips curled into that arrogant smile" or "and his face changed to the arrogant mask I was used to". She might describe other parts of his appearance, but that "arrogant" is in that description somewhere! His words and behavior were more than enough to inform us that he was arrogant, but he DOES have redeeming qualities, and I, at least, felt much sympathy for him. He cooled down toward the end, and Cat didn't, which annoyed me slightly, but I lay my hope in the second book! The thing I really liked the most was that the ending was HIGHLY satisfying. It wraps it all up and only hints to what may come later (there are a few questions left, but the pressing ones were answered by the last page). Recommended :)
buelles More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book a lot. I like how the main character is independent and realistic. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a slow start, and it does often get bogged down in details that I felt distracted from the story rather than added to it. But, by the end I was definitely excited to see where they were going next. Absolutely picking up the next book and seeing how this continues!!
fairy-realm More than 1 year ago
I started this series because I really like Kate Elliot's other books, I liked this one, but not as much as her other series. I have since read the second book now and will await the final book when it comes out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was reccomended to me by someone who knows how much I like fantasy, and fantasy with good female characters. I was not disappointed. Not only was the world created here facinating because of the magic elements, but also because of alternative history status as well. It used our known past...but the twists it makes to it really lead to an interesting new world. I also loved the fact that many of the main characters are also POC. It is hard to find good fantasy with POC that are whole characters and not cutouts. I loved the they were real people with debth. But that is good...but the better thing is that their race is secondary to the fact that they are good characters. This was very well told and I look forward to the next. Downside....cliffhangers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this from the first page to the last.
flynow More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much that I bought the next one before I finished the 1st one. I Look forward to the rest of the series. This may put Kate Elliot on my list of favorite authors. A long with Mercedes Lackey, and Terry Brooks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had some good parts, but it was slow and often so lost in description and language that in the end, I could only get halfway through before I lost interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very confusing. Seems there are so many details and attempts at clever word use, that one is distracted. Almost seems like the writer is trying to prove they are a writer. Strange. I want to like it but ..
BloomSM More than 1 year ago
This book was hard for me too catch on too,it took me nearly 2 weeks to get to page 104. There was so much background information i couldn't tell what was going on,so i quit reading it and read 4 other books, Then i came back to it i was determined to finish it once i got past the 150 pages things began to click and found that the story was full of twist and turns and very creative. I have just got the next book and because i know the characters now i am hoping it won't be a slow to start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started off a bit slow but the more I read, the more I couldn't put it down. Ready for Cold Fire.
Cowabunga More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and the plot! Looking forward to the next book in the series.
rosstrowbridge on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I love it when a book (or in this case, a series) is such a whopping good story, with a world so vivid and characters so engaging that the distinctions between adult and juvenile readerships disappear. In praising this book, I feel as if I'm adding my voice to multitudes or preaching to the choir. Anyone who's read Kate Elliott's other work has experienced her superb world-building. Now we've got a not-quite-Europe, a zesty melange of Phoenicians and Africans -- not the abused, exploited slaves of our world but the worthy inheritors of proud traditions -- a mid-19th Century ice age, magic woven into ice and "cold steel," and people and powers that not even the denizens of this world can guess. Oh, and dirigibles for the steampunk fans. And trolls. Kind, scholarly attorney trolls. From America. Where trolls come from. Delicious!I have to admit that I found Elliott's last few books too dark and violent for me, but only a few pages into Cold Magic, I knew I was in for a treat. There's action and danger and Things That Go Bump In The Night, but the whole tone is softer and brighter. Much of this is due to the heroine, a smart and resourceful teen daughter of one of the aforementioned contemporary Phoenician families who, without any warning or preparation, finds herself summarily married to a "cold magic" wizard. So, as they say, the adventure begins. The result is captivating and rousing, action and mystery and romance and intrigue. Oh, and sabertooth cats. What more can a reader want?
calmclam on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Fantasy meets steampunk meets alternate timeline meets Afro-Celtic empire. Where has this book been all my life? Forced suddenly into a marriage she wasn't expecting and doesn't want, Cat finds herself plunged in the middle of a political turmoil and a murder plot (with herself as the intended target). She flees her husband's family--while learning a few secrets about her own--in order to find and protect her cousin and save her own life. Strong characters, great worldbuilding, loved it.
senbei on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Ephemeral are the ties that bind. Kin and kinship are not what they used to be. Not since the X-Files has a protagonist had better reason to trust no one. These and other shadowy portents can be found cleverly woven into every page of Kate Elliott¿s Cold Magic. Though situated in the (by this point) quite familiar mid-Nineteenth Century Industrial Revolution (what would be Victorian England in another novel), everything else about the story¿s setting is bereft of familiarity. Europa has been split into two (and soon to be three) warring factions: the princes and royal lineage aristocracy, and that of the mage Houses, who rule by threat of annihilation. While the princes rule through standing armies, each mage House wields its own arsenal of magisters, djeliw and mansa (the equivalent of mages, clerics and sorcerers). After centuries of power plays the war is coming to a head as a third group, the rebellious proletariat made up of serfs, slaves, sweatshop workers and trolls (who¿ve recently emigrated from the Western continents) enter the fray. Into this maelstrom steps our protagonist, Catherine Hassi Barahal, an orphan brought up in her aunt and uncle¿s house in a city called Adurnam. Catherine is Phoenician, their seafaring empire having fought Rome to a standstill in this universe, and has their mercenary training in swordsmanship. Despite her otherwise unremarkable college life, Catherine soon finds herself embroiled in the ongoing war when a magister from one of the mage Houses appears and absconds with her after a shocking blackmail her aunt and uncle were willing participants to. Now Catherine must live on the run, under fire from all sides and seek to uncover her true heritage and her connection to the mythical spirit realm.Whew. Although I normally would never write a plot synopsis as part of a book review, I find it nearly impossible to discuss Cold Magic without preamble. As our author explains in her afterward, Cold Magic is a mashup of disparate cultures and ideas from far flung places and eras (such as the Celts, the Mande, Phoenicians and medieval serfdom). It seems somehow appropriate that Elliott should choose the European Industrial Revolution as the nexus for a jumble of hodge-podge ethnicity and religion. To be sure, the unreal and surreal are ever-present in the ¿spiritwalker¿ universe, and Elliott effectively marries abstraction to the trials and tribulations of an unconventional spitfire young woman. Ironically however, magisters and magic have been given too great a presence in Cold Magic. Though the plot points do not necessarily resemble HP, by giving magic and whirlwind adventure too great a presence in the novel, Elliott undermines her lovely anthropological construct. In her own words, Cold Magic is an ¿Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency novel with airships, Phoencian spies and intelligent descendents of troödons,¿ and one has to believe that anthropology factors greatly into the book¿s makeup. Sadly the reader is swept along at such a breakneck pace, jumping from one death-defying near miss to another with barely a bowl of soup and a change of clothes (and no tea time) in between, one may fail to take notice of the prominent placement of ancient religious and cultural elements. Cold Magic might have the power to inspire young people to visit archaeological museums, but the story itself is far from an ethnography. Historical events and peoples have been often renamed and repositioned and unless a teenager already has a keen interest in world history, she would have a tough time recognizing the presence of Napoleon Bonaparte in the story, let alone Gadir, Tyre, Carthage, Iron Age Celt, Mali, the list goes on. My fervent hope is these peoples were sufficiently present and enigmatic in the book to force a reader to keep a browser open to Wikipedia, but then again such research could be easily sidestepped in favor of illusions and cantrips and well-dressed guys being chivalro
les121 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I loved this book! Cold Magic is a fantastical, steampunk adventure with outstanding world building, plotting, and characters. It¿s one of the most unique, compelling, and memorable stories I¿ve read in quite a while. I can¿t wait for the release of the second book in the Spiritwalker trilogy, Cold Fire.
Aronfish on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I'm still reading this one, so maybe I'll change my mind. I'm a big Kate Elliott fan, so I've been surprised that I've been finding her writing a bit stilted in this novel.In fact, I was wondering if this was a manuscript that she unearthed from an earlier point in her writing career when she was less polished. Despite being more conscious of the writing than in her other works, I am still engaged by the story of the orphan rent from the life she's known and forced to question everything she was always told about herself and her origins. I'll probably give the next in the series a look too..
Asata on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This first entry in a new science fiction series, the Spiritwalker Trilogy, is a sure winner. Elliott, with inspiration from her teens, has created what she labels an "Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency novel with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons." Yes, it's a mashup! And a truly original and imaginative one. Cold magic is subtitled "when science and magic collide--it is the innocent who will die." I'm not always crazy about alternate history, but this one has some extra attractions. For one, Elliott has done her homework. The elements included are authentic and rich in detail--words incorporated from West Africa's Bambara language are accurately used and spelled, clothing and customs are followed and incorporated in believable ways. The main characters are a young woman, Catherine, who has been raised Phoenician by her aunt and uncle in a community in what might have been England in an Ice Age northern Europe--a Europe that looks drastically different from today's continent. She and her best friend/cousin, Beatrice, are approaching their age of majority when a cold mage arrives late one night to claim the eldest daughter of the house in marriage, according to a contract written decades before. Both Cat's aunt and uncle rush to affirm Cat as the eldest, and Cat is immediately married to the young mage, Andevai. She is bundled into a carriage and rushed off into the nightmare that is Andevai's life. At first, their trip reminded me of The taming of the shew, but this impression fades rapidly as Andevai flees the city with Cat in tow. She soon sees that he is an arrogant and powerful young mage, but something else is going on. Andevai has blown up the celebrated airship that had arrived from in town from Expedition (aka North America), to great fanfare. The cold mage houses do not approve, and Andevai was given the task of destroying this threat to their power. Why, then, has this strange marriage been included in his visit? Read and find out!4 out of 5 stars
samantha.1020 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Can I just start off by saying that I loved this book? Cold Magic is just one of those books that grabbed me and didn't let go. Filled with twists and turns, I was utterly entralled throughout the story and now all I want is more. This is the story of Cat and Bee, two young women going to college and living during The Industrial Revolution where the story is set. But there is magic in this world, cold magic, and before they know it they are ripped away from each other and the only lives that they have ever known by cold mages. Their lives are turned upside down and danger is lurking around every corner. The question remains, who can they trust?I can do nothing but sing this book's praises. The world that the girls' live in is fantastically described, and I was caught up within the pages of the story instantly. The storyline itself was fast paced and filled with surprises. There were a couple of times where I was reading (thinking I knew what was going to happen next) and just had the rug pulled out from underneath me. It took my breath away and all of a sudden I was frantically reading the pages as fast as I could trying to see what was going to happen next. I loved it. I loved the experience of reading this book, never really knowing what was going to happen next, and just going along for the ride that the author was taking me on. It was an amazing journey as this book was a chunkster at a little over 500 pages. And the characters were great as well. Both Cat and Bee were well fleshed out characters and even though this was mostly Cat's journey, I still grew to care about what happened to both characters. I also liked that this book was filled with different types of characters like trolls, cold mages, and an eru. It helped to make the story that much more interesting. I'm pretty sure that I don't have a single complaint with this book. All in all, this is a book that I am still thinking about after finishing a couple days later and one that I would highly recommend. All I have to say is Ms. Elliott, would you please write fast...I cannot wait for book 2 in this trilogy!!
MmeRose on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Alternative 18th century history with steampunk and ice age. This could have been a fascinating world, except that I found the characters less than engaging. I won't be reading the second book.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
An intriguingly different 19th century Europe in which the Romans never destroyed Carthage, the north is locked in ice, North America is inhabited by dinosaur descendants, and cold mages fight the burgeoning technology of rifles and airships.Orphaned Catherine Barahal, raised by her aunt and uncle, attends the academy with her slightly younger cousin and friend, Beatriz. When a representive of a Mage House comes to claim the oldest Barahal daughter, as contracted, Catherine is thrown into a desperate adventure and uncovers secrets of her past and identity.Surprising and gripping.
Fledgist on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is a fine example of the "world is different plus magic works" genre pioneered by Randall Garrett in the Lord Darcy series. Elliott takes the trope further, and does so with great effect. Like Garrett's Darcy tales, this is, in effect steampunk (a world of steam engines and airships, but also swords, muskets,and rifles) with magic. It's also an ice age world. The setting is Europe, a Europe with a different history, but not as different as it might be. A different politics. And, a different population. This Europe is full of black people, mixed people, people whose culture blends Roman, Celtic, Phoenician (but don't call them that), and Malian. Not to mention the trolls. Into the complex politics, a young woman, Catherine Hassi Barahal is suddenly plunged when she finds herself forcibly married to the mage Andevai Diarisso Haranwy, part Celt,part Malian, a master of cold magic, who may be the strongest mage of the time. Dangerous things are afoot. Catherine has to beware of her husband, the mansa of his magical house, and to learn her own magical powers, as well as the mystery of her own origins. Thisi s the first part of a series. If the remaining volumes are as good as this one, it promises to be one of the best in recent years.
rbaech on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Gripping story, fascinating world-building. I genuinely can't wait to read the other books in this series.
saltypepper on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book was so very good. At first I did not think I was going to like it, as the dynamic between the cousins seemed a little tiresome, one is pretty, one is smart, they are inseparable, yes, yes. But then the more interesting aspects of the world-building became apparent and as soon as it became clear Elliott was going to face head on all the implications of the premise I was hooked. Apparently I have been waiting all my life to read an "Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency novel with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons," I just didn't know it. Maybe you have too?I loved seeing how she handled the migration north of the Africans, the migration west of the Celts, the class system of the Mages and their Houses, the parallel world of faerie, and so on. The realities of the sort of cultural mixing she describes are not glossed over, and it is refreshing to read about these things instead of pretending that there is some kind of barrier between Europe and the rest of the world that prevents anyone else from going there, while still allowing Europeans to leave and explore everywhere else.Lastly, I refer those reviewers who take issue with the fact that the main character goes from hating her new husband, to noticing he's extremely handsome, and then (reluctantly) fantasizing about him to various classics of regency literature. Austen, anyone?