Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Review: Cold Fire by Kate Elliott
Title: Cold Fire (Spiritwalker, #2)
Author: Kate Elliott
Rating: 5 Stars
First, let me tell you what Cold Fire is like. Cold Fire is like ripping your heart out, stuffing it into a washing machine, and watching it go around and around, twisting and turning in every which way while you are helpless to do anything. Of course, then you try to do something to this poor heart of yours, so you rush forward to stop the washing machine, but it’s in the middle of the wash, so even when you get your heart out, you still have to wring it out and dry all the excess soapy water, so the end result is the same: pain.
In other words, Cold Fire is a whirlwind of emotion. With Cold Magic, Elliott lay down the rules, introduced us to the world, and made us care for her characters. In Cold Fire, though, the fun finally begins with politics, intrigue, mystery, betrayal, world-building, friendship, kinship, and, best of all, romance. If Cold Magic failed to convince you that this trilogy was worth investing your time into, I implore you to give Cold Fire a try. If nothing else, Andevai will trap your heart so thoroughly you won’t be able to tear away from these books after all.
From the beginning itself, Cold Fire is nothing like its predecessor. For one, the pace is breakneck, from the start to the finish, a refreshing change from the slower commencement of Cold Magic. Additionally, the primary setting of this novel is not the Ice Age Europe we’ve come to know, but rather the Americas. With this brings on a slew of new world-building, just as interesting and creative as that in the first book. I love drawing the threads of familiarity between our world and that which Elliott has created, which makes discovering every layer of this intricate fantasy that much more astonishing.
And yet, Cold Fire shines, through and through, because of its protagonist, Cat. Cat finally comes to find answers to many of her pressing questions about her lineage, but at a price. While she may have been curious and stubborn in Cold Magic, this is the installment where she truly comes into her own. For one, I love that this book portrays women in a strong and independent light. Cat never answers to anyone for her actions and while there are those who tear her down for sticking by her decisions, there are others who understand and accept her for who she is, flaws, mistakes, and scruples aside. Moreover, Cat becomes an even more well-fleshed character in this book, coming to admit her faults and try, painstakingly, to correct them. I love that despite all the changes she undergoes in this installment, she retains her innate traits, all while moving onto becoming a better person; one who is more certain of her place in the world.
In addition to Cat, Bee also finds many answers in this novel. I love that this trilogy is so focused on the friendship between these two girls, both who are powerful and just as important to each other as they are to the story. One of my favorite aspects of their relationship is the fact that they manage to be such tight confidants to one another despite not constantly being together. I find this is such a realistic aspect of friendship, for making it work despite the distances, both physically and mentally, is a barrier many relationships are subject to. And Bee and Cat endure all that and even more together, their love and understanding a shining beacon in their otherwise darker lives. For them, they are more family than friends, and that bond is irreparable and resolute, which is so very rare in fiction. I adore it.
Nevertheless, it would be remiss of me to write this review without a mention of my favorite cold mage (and the keeper of my heart), Andevai. If you thought you swooned towards the end of Cold Magic, think again because you might as well faint from how utterly delectable Andevai is in this book. Where Cold Magic looks to deconstruct Andevai as we know him, introducing us to this arrogant cold mage and peeling back the layers until we see his vulnerable interior, Cold Fire seeks to exploit that kindness, making Cat realize just how wrong she was about her husband. I loved seeing Andevai work ceaselessly to win over Cat’s heart. It’s nothing short of heart-wrenching and their constant back-and-forth banter, wit, and sexual tension kept me on my toes. One of my favorite elements between these two is that their romance keeps you guessing, praying it’ll work out and worried that it may not because of one or the other’s strong personality. And yet, by the end, these two come to complement each other perfectly, their feelings for each other only fueling their grounded characters. I rarely come to enjoy, anticipate, and cherish a romance, but this one I fell for; every unspoken word, glance, and kiss a simmering flame of hidden depths and utter perfection.
At the end of the day, this is simply a trilogy not to be missed. If you’re a fan of strong world-building and character growth, this book has it in spades. If you even remotely enjoy complex politics, revolutions, and impending war, though, this is even more of a gem. Elliott sets up an interesting political scheme with Cold Magic, but Cold Fire is the actual fire to the action. With plenty of new political players and old ones coming to join the mix, there is no end to the assassinations, betrayals, and lies. Which, trust me, I loved. I cannot imagine a book more tightly plotted, well-researched, or full of emotion than this one. It took me by surprise, the way it played with my emotions, and kept me up late at night, huddled in blankets for it felt as if I could feel the searing cold of the mages myself. Its characters are so very real and its world so very believable that I weep to think of it being nearly over. Without a doubt, however, this is a book I will be re-visiting, many times over. After all, I still need an answer to the question vai I cannot have Vai. (See what I did there?)
Summer Series Reading Challenge: 12