Review: Cold Magic

Book One of the Spiritwalker Trilogy
By Kate Elliott
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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.
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.
Cat and 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?
Ice Magic and Steam Punk is an unlikely combination and one that, more often than not, I would have turned my nose up at – I really don’t get steam punk, cyberpunk, yeah, steam punk, blah – but I do like Kate Elliott.
So naturally I demanded an ARC of  Cold Magic from my long suffering Orbit rep 😀
And I loved it!
It’s not perfect (and that’s a caveat I’ll place on most books). For a large book it doesn’t really cover much ground but the characterisation is strong, the worldbuilding exciting (and that is a massive thing for me) although, as I do in most of Elliott’s books, I stumbled over clunky names, and the voice was true.
It is almost epic fantasy wrapped in a steam punk girdle, but thank god the world is an alternate to ours and we aren’t smothered with hideous Victorian England.
This book is savy and accomplished. The story is tight and it’s grip on your attention is firm and it is layered, it has depth with enough strangely familiar references that will make anyone with a general knowledge of history sit up every now and then and say ‘I think I know what that is’.
Staged in a world on the brink of an ‘industrial revolution’ – the kind that kills magic -Cold Magic is filled with mystery and adventure as a young girl is thrust headlong into a destiny she never saw coming by her Aunt and Uncle and forced to marry a Magister (read mage) of the Four Moons House to fulfill a contract they entered into before she was born. But she is not what the Magisters are expecting, nor even what she expects and unseen powers and political machinations take us on a rip roaring ride as Elliott proves herself a mistress of the ‘slow reveal’ and stops the book just as we get some questions answered.
Agh! Frustrating – but fantastic at the same time!
There was a point in the middle of the book that I though Elliott was going to fall into the trap of turning her heroine Cat into a reworked Liath from Crown of Stars – but thankfully this didn’t happen and I like Cat much more!

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