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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Cold Magic

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Review: Cold Magic

Cold Magic
Spiritwalker, Book 1

Author: Kate Elliott
Pages: 580
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Orbit for review

Description from Goodreads:
It is the dawn of a new age... The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

“I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn't mean I wasn't curious…”

Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.

Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can't be trusted, who can you trust?

From one of the genre's finest writers comes a bold new epic fantasy in which science and magic are locked in a deadly struggle.

First Sentence: "The history of the world begins in ice, and it will end in ice."

Oh, epic fantasy. I really shouldn't be reading any of it while trying to complete my massive book challenge, because every time I read one I lose ground. Still, I keep reading them, because I like them. Cold Magic proved to be especially slow, because it took me so long to really get into it. The writing and story was always good, but not enough to have me flipping the pages at high speed.

The world building, so far as I understand it, is impressive. Unfortunately, much of it I didn't understand, largely the parts that intrigued me the most, the alternate history aspects. Usually, I don't have major comprehension issues with books, but I really could not piece together a timeline of what events happened when and how the history differed. Of course, it doesn't help that this takes place in regions and discusses times I didn't study much.

The magic, though, made much more sense and was, pardon the pun, very cool. I suspect that later  books might explain how the cold magic came into being, because that seems to be a real mystery, and it's so odd, since there doesn't seem to be any other magic on the earthly plane. The spiritual plane is so weird, and I hope there will be more exploration of it; I think there will be so that we can meet Cat's relatives.

Part of why the book was slow for so long was that it lacked direction. While most epic fantasy revolves around a quest, this one does not. Thing happen, but they're not aimed toward a particular goal until a few hundred pages in. Once we learn what's going on, the pace picked up.

As for the characters, I like Cat the best. I never took to her cousin and best friend, Bee, though I couldn't really say why, since she is sweet to Cat. Early on, Cat, as the oldest daughter of the Hassi Barahals is forced to wed a cold mage, Andevai. She goes along with it to protect her cousin and family, though she would rather not marry an utter stranger, and a cold one at that. Despite his handsomeness, Cat wants pretty much nothing to do with him and snarks at him constantly. She berates him with questions, calls him out when he acts like a jerk, and generally doesn't act like so many young heroines do when confronted with a handsome face.

My very favorite thing about Cat? How much she eats. This girl can pack food away. You know how a lot of books forget about basic human needs like eating to focus on other things? Well, Elliott doesn't do that. Cat has a seriously healthy appetite, and after so many books about skinny, waifish, model-thin heroines, that was so refreshing. She's clearly a girl after my own heart.

Surely, you will not be surprised to learn that there is a sort of romance building between Cat and Andevai. They have a nice slow burn, which grows from mutual disdain (totally my favorite romance pattern thanks to P&P). I am totally rooting for them, though I do not want them to rush together.

In the last 200 pages or so, I was much more entranced by the story. The change came about the time Rory entered the scene. He's hilarious and I adore him. Though this one was slow-going and I can't say I loved it, I have higher hopes for the second book Cold Fire, which is a good thing since it's in my tbr pile.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "Idly, I flipped through the ledger's pages, for I cannot resist a book set before me no matter its kind. Writing draws my eye; I am impelled as by sorcery to read even if it is an accountant's list or a solicitor's instructions or, as here, nothing more than a record of traveler who have passed through this inn."

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Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

You beat me to it, Christina! :) This book has been on my TBR for absolute ages, and even my local library has it. I just need. to end. my book ban. first! From what you've described I think I'm going to like it, and I adore slow burn relationship. Great review as usual!

September 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I am not a fan of high fantasy novels, but I always love reading your reviews of them. It's refreshing to hear that we have a girl who can maintain her snark (and keep her head on her shoulders) when she has a handsome guy going at her. Happy you still enjoyed this one, even though it wasn't one of your favourites.

September 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I bet you will like it! If you can explain some things to me, that would be awesome. These are in paperback, so they're not that expensive and you get a lot of book for the cost, one of the things I love about epic fantasy.

September 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Haha, right? I'm always so glad when a girl is snarky. Like, I know they'll get together eventually anyway, but that doesn't mean it needs to come easy or that she should be submissive because he's hotttttt.

September 17, 2012 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

See, I love these sort of books, but I also like books where there's direction, etc.

Also, I cannot stop reading long epic fantasy books either as evidenced by my current read of A Clash Of Kings.


Have you read The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss? I think you'd like that one. :-)

September 17, 2012 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Haha, epic fantasy is such a temptation. :)

No, I haven't, but ZOMG I want to.

September 18, 2012 at 7:58 AM  

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