Open main menu

Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

In an alternate version of our world in the 19th century, where magic exists but technology is moving forward in the shape of massive airships, 19 year old cousins Cat and Bee Hassi Barahal live normal lives. But without warning, the girls' world is thrown upside down as a cold mage, the arrogant Andevai arrives to collect Cat as his bride - as a result of a bargain which was made many years ago without her knowledge. Taken away from her beloved family, Cat is brought into a society she knows little about where danger seems to lurk in every corner... But Cat isn't as helpless as everyone else assumes her to be; unknown to anybody, she can see the chains that magic forms, while she quickly picks up allies in some unusual places.

Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

Buy Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott at or

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Despite a frustratingly slow start, this epic 'icepunk' fantasy novel eventually reaches an awesome climax and looks like the start of a fantastic trilogy which will appeal to anyone who likes romance, fantasy, intrigue and strong female heroines.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 528 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841498812

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn

Okay, until I was two thirds of the way through Cold Magic I had the review pretty much written in my head... lots of different aspects coming together in the novel, enough to guarantee there'd be bits for everyone to enjoy, but making it into a hotch potch collection of magic, politics, airships, trolls, dragons, and too many other fantasy elements to mention. Final verdict was all set to be - over ambitious with not enough focus and slightly weak characters.

But then I got to a particular point in the book and it's as if everything suddenly changes at once. Very strong contender for the best ending I've read in years - it quickly turned me from being of the opinion that one book was quite enough of this trilogy for me to a "Hey, sequel coming! Need sequel NOW!" mindset. The last few hundred pages have got action, with two particularly stunning confrontations, romance, heroism, betrayal, and tying together of seemingly disparate plot strands... just amazing. Oh, and some of those characters I'd previously thought pretty weak reappear and are quickly developed into far more interesting ones. Book two, Cold Fire, now finds itself very close to the top of my most wanted list.

Very hard novel to rate, to be honest, because I have to admit I wouldn't really relish the thought of rereading the first part of the book... but the last third is so fantastic that I'd love to give it a really strong recommendation. Perhaps a compromise; four star book with the potential for an amazing five star trilogy?

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For another excellent fantasy novel where a resourceful young woman is pitched into a new environment and must quickly work out who she can trust in between all of the political intrigue around her, I really loved The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Spiritwalker: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.