Title: Cold Magic
Author: Kate Elliott
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History, Steampunk
Publication Date: September 9, 2010
Challenge: The Bookkeeper's Steampunk Challenge
Going into this novel I didn't know what to expect out of the world and magic Elliott had created. The cover is beautiful and the blurb on the back sounds like something right up my alley. One thing I didn't expect was the thoroughly thought-out alternate history. I must admit I couldn't get a hold of the timeline perfectly, but there is mention of Romans and other civilizations from Europe and Africa, all holding their own magical traditions. This book takes place after the Roman Empire in a Victorian-like era. I was really impressed with the mixture of cultures old and new and how this influenced the magical elements of the story.
The story is narrated by Cat. I enjoyed her as the main protagonist because I thought she was smart and pretty strong in a world where women are considered lower than men. One of her main faults is saying things that could get her in trouble (which it sometimes does). I also liked the character Bee, her cousin, who is an artist and a lot more bubbly in personality. I thought that despite their similar ages and situations they really felt like distinct characters. My favorite character would be Roderic, which I won't say too much about him because of spoilers, but I thought he was very entertaining and hope to see more of him in the sequel.
The one character I just couldn't like for most of the book (which could be the goal but perhaps not) was Andevai. He's also the love interest of Cat. He's an arrogant, rude cold mage of the Four Moons House. I felt that Cat was attracted to him from early on, but I just couldn't figure out why at the time since he was just always rude and disagreeable. He somewhat redeems himself at the end, but even then I am still not convinced. He does some growing throughout the story; however, we don't see him as much as I would have expected for Cat to fall for him.
That brings me to the romance in the story. There wasn't as much romance as I thought there would be. Cat does think about Andevai on her journey, but there isn't much explicit romance. I'm guessing things will change in the second book, and I am looking forward to finding out what happens between all the characters in the story.
Lastly, the magic in this world is diverse. There is cold magic of the nobles' mage houses, who rule over the land like feudal lords. Then there is djeliw and bards "who have the ability to manipulate and respect the essence that flows through the spirit world." (p. 79) Blacksmiths use fire; however, we did not get to see this in depth yet. There is also the magic of the beings of the spirit worlds themselves who are a mystery in themselves.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed Cold Magic by Kate Elliott. I loved the world, the magic and the characters. This is the first in the Spiritwalker Trilogy and I felt that it was a great introduction. I want to see more of Cat, Bee, Roderic and also have the what I would call a big cliffhanger at the end of the story resolved. I highly recommend Cold Magic. A