Cold Fire by Kate Elliott

27 Feb

This is going to be a hard one for me to recap because I find it so intricate and complex. There’s A LOT going on Cold Fire, and the trilogy as a whole. You’ve got the political intrigues of an outcast and defeated warlord looking to reclaim glory, the struggle between “artificial” technology and “natural” magic during a time of industrial revolution, questions of emancipation and pseudo-slavery, and the more personal plotlines of Cat, Bee, and Vai. It’s a ton to process, but it is so, so good.

After joining Cat and Bee on their quest to find a safe place to recover from their escape for the Four Moons House at the end of Cold Magic, I immediately realized that there was going to be no let-up in drama or adrenaline for Cat and Bee. The chase begins anew from the very first page as Cat and Bee, along with Cat’s brother Rory, flee to Adurnam to seek aid from the lawyer trolls they met earlier (sounds weird, but “lawyer trolls” totally works). But shelter, as the reader realizes pretty quickly, is not something that will be afforded to these characters throughout the book. Cat, Bee, and Rory are chased throughout Adurnam and are eventually separated by the spirit world. Cat must contend with learning who her true father is, deal with issues of control and independence, and search for a way to save Bee from the Wild Hunt, an annual event on Hallows’ Eve where all the souls destined to die are gathered by the Master of the Hunt, a terrible and frightening figure. I don’t think I’m doing a very good job gathering all the various threads of plot here, but it’s really a wild ride.

One thing that should be pointed out is that The Spiritwalker Trilogy, of which Cold Fire is the second book, exists in an utterly unique world. Elliott has created an alternate history of the Victorian world that is fascinating and thoughtful. I was grateful that Elliott put so much effort into grounding the reader in the world and what had happened to Cat, her infuriating and arrogant husband Vai, and her cousin Bee in Cold Magic. It’s been many moons since I read Cold Magic, and I was happy to get up to speed during the first 100 pages or so. A huge part of the conflict in these books is the struggle for precedence between science and magic. Steampunk elements are mixed in, but honestly, I hardly notice them because the world feels so real to me.

I really loved Cat’s journey in this part of the trilogy – she’s learning to adapt to her surroundings, to adjust her behavior to what she’s learned, rather than acting on simply instinct alone (though that trait has made her pretty badass). She became more rounded and layered to me in this book because she learned to think through her actions a bit before making a call. Vai even says to her at one point that she “thinks with her feet”, which is great for action-packed moments, but not always the best way to go when dealing with matters of politics, or of the heart. Cat and Vai’s evolving relationship takes center stage in Cold Fire, while Bee and Rory take a bit of a backseat. Kate Elliott is apparently hard at work on the last of this trilogy, and I just know I am going to be amazed.

Bonus: you wouldn’t want to read this until you’ve finished Cold Fire, but Kate Elliott has released an “extra chapter” for Cold Fire on her website. She explains that it wasn’t included because it was not written from Cat’s point of view, and also for the explicit sexy times. If you’re curious, check it out here.

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3 Responses to “Cold Fire by Kate Elliott”

  1. Rebecca February 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Okay, this weekend made the third time I got to the bookstore and thought, “I want to read that great series that Amanda recommended.” And then I stood there like a statue (my hard-thinking pose—seriously, when I think really hard, I don’t move. Ask Cody. I didn’t realize I did this until recently when he got a little freaked out when I just went basically dead in front of him. Anyway…). I could remember the author’s name was Kate, and then nothing. A completely blank. Elliott! It’s locked in now (or so I hope). I need to write down a list to take with me to the bookstore!

    • Amanda February 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      Girl, what happened to using your Kindle at the bookstore? (If I’m even remembering that correctly….) If ONLY you had a cell phone, you could text me and I could tell you right away. 🙂 I will never stop being a proponent of you getting a cell phone.

      • Rebecca February 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

        Cody pointed out that the Kindle only works in a WiFi zone, and I was at a used bookstore, so no WiFi.

        God, can you imagine me with constant text access to you? Maybe not. It’d be bad. I mean, it’d be great for me, but you’d be bombarded. LOL

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