Fantasy Review: ‘Cold Fire’ by Kate Elliott

Another infuriating entry in the Spiritwalker Trilogy.  How can a book do some things so damn good, and make a complete mess out of others?  I was going to finish off the book, then be done with the series despite already having the concluding volume in my hands.  Then in the last hundred pages this meandering tale suddenly got a cohesive plot and found its purpose, ensuring that I will give the final book a try.

Cat may be one of my favorite first person narrators in the genre, which is an amazing upgrade of the first book in which didn’t care for her much at all.  She is completely, utterly, one hundred percent captivating.  She is smart.  Her tongue is razor sharp.  She both infuriates and captivates those around her.  She fights her own fights when needed, gives ground when it is prudent, and relies on her allies when it is possible.  Hilarious when drunk or trying to one up love interest Vai, her voice single handedly kept me reading through some really rough early chapters.  Even the romance angles that were fairly unbelievable in the first outing felt more organic this time around.

My favorite part of ‘Cold Magic’ was the world Elliott was building and it is expanded on nicely in this outing.  I am a sucker for alternative history and too often it leaves me wanting.  Not so the world of this trilogy; Europa is in a long Ice Age, Rome never fell, the Americas are something completely different.  No traps of well-known figures from history being forced into awkward situations.  Even without the magic it makes for something unique.

But I will be damned if I know what was going on for fully half of this book.   And while some questions were answered by the end of the book, I am not sure the path it took to get there was completely worth it.  A leap of faith led to a cross continental jump.  Cat learns a bit about her parentage and I am just as confused as ever as to its importance.  A whole lot of talk about “the Great Hunt;” which had so much build up for something so…isolated?  Hardly a worldwide event the whole magical community should know about.

Strong conclusion though, finally tying up loose ends that have been hanging since the first book.  I kinda get cold mages now, and fire mages were a nice (if obvious) addition.  It appears Cat and her cousin Bee (did I mention Bee?  Ya Bee was just as awesome as Cat in this book), it appears that the two of them of a grand adventure in front of them next time around. 

3 stars.  Again.  Just like the first book.  And here is hoping the third outing is as focused and fun as the last third of this book, if so it could elevate the whole series in my mind.

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