Cold Fire by Kate Elliott

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Cold Fire by Kate Elliott

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Second book in Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy is, like the first, a tad too sprawling to be a real classic - but is certainly a book well worth reading for all fantasy fans.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1841498836

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As always, spoilers for book 1,Cold Magic are pretty much inevitable.

If anyone remembers my review of the first in this series, they'll know that I found the first part underwhelming and something of a mess of different genres, with steampunk, politics, magic, trolls, dragons, and romance all thrown together but not really meshing that well until the final third - which was outstanding, making Cold Fire one of my most anticipated reads of the year. This picks up where the first book left off, pretty much, with heroine Cat and her cousin Bea on the run from the mage houses, their family, the warlord Camjiata, and goodness only knows who or what else. It's a flight which will take Cat to Salt Island, in the Caribbean - your enjoyment of the book will largely depend on how much Creole you can read without getting annoyed, and I have to admit there were a few places where the accents grated on me. It will also take them into far darker places, and reunite her with her husband Andevai, still one of the most charismatically annoying love interests around. Oh, and to go with cold mage Andevai, there's the fire mage James Drake, creating a love triangle which has a real spark to it.

There's plenty to admire here - not least the character of Andevai, who gets increasingly awesome as this series goes on - and yet I can't help feeling it's got similar problems to the first one but in reverse this time. While that took too long to get going, this one starts off really strongly and dwindles away a bit as we go through the book, before picking up with a really good ending. There's a massive, sprawling, storyline, the main bits of which encompass the love triangle, a revolution, Cat's attempts to save Bea from the Wild Hunt, and Camjiata's hopes of winning the two girls to his side, but a lot of it feels like it could have been condensed. At 500 pages, it lacks the pace of the greatest fantasy books - but is still an enjoyable read with some real high points. As I said, it definitely picks up steam towards the end and the closing part of the trilogy is still one that I'm really looking forward to.

We also have a review of book three. Fans of this type of epic fantasy are sure to love The Dagger and Coin: The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham.

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