Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Cold Steel by Kate Elliott

Title: Cold Steel (Spiritwalker, #3) 

Author: Kate Elliott

Rating: 4.5 Stars

I can't remember ever being so distraught about the ending of a trilogy. I rarely read a series all in one go, but when I do, I enjoy flying through the books instead of drawing out the plot over years and forgetting key elements. With this series, however, I wish I had started it back when Cold Magic had released, if only so that I could hold onto these characters a little longer. I'll definitely need to be making time in the future to re-read this delightful trilogy because it's quite near perfect.

Cold Steel is not the mesmerizing perfection of Cold Fire, but it's close. It's not as meandering or slow as Cold Magic, though it does contain some of those elements. For the most part, this book is stunning when it comes to characterization, plot, and romance. One of my favorite aspects of this series, from the beginning itself, has been the world-building. Elliott starts us off in Europa, but then whisks us away to her version of the Americas, and now back in Europe for this installment, we're able to notice the blatant differences between the cultures of the two countries. I find that this is particularly clever as it enables the reader to not only better understand the world Elliott has created, but also to become entrenched within the politics of this country. I've said it from the beginning and it bears repeating - Elliott writes political fantasy with a touch of steampunk. And while the politics are brewing in Cold Magic and come to an even larger forefront in Cold Fire, this is where they finally erupt.

Nevertheless, where this series shines is in its characters. I've loved the resolute friendship between Bee and Cat from its nascence and seeing it grow, change, and still hold over time has been a worthwhile journey. What I particularly love about it, though, is that this series doesn't hesitate to bring into its picture more than one strong heroine. Bee finally finds her way in this installment and while Cat and Vai still steal the show, I love how Bee's importance has sustained itself throughout the series. If anything, she is the character of greater value than Cat is, yet the two girls are always on equal standing, whether it be politically, romantically, or in regards to their friendship. It's so rare to see friendships in literature, let alone between two best friends who are girls, without the relationship dissolving into drama, but the one Elliott has crafted is, above all things, meaningful.

As always, Cold Steel brings forth my favorite protagonist, Cat. What I especially adore about this series is that Cat is so self-reliant. Although the beginning of this novel suffered a bit, lagging in areas, it managed to still stun me through Cat resourcefulness as she rescues her husband, Andevai. Cold Fire may have seen their love blossom, but in Cold Steel these two manage to make it work through thick-and-thin. Obviously, with their strong personalities, their relationship isn't easy, but the fact that these two trust each other and are willing to listen to one another is what makes it so unique. Moreover, Andevai continues to surprise me as we keep peeling back more and more layers to his personality. Elliott has taken the image of Fitzwilliam Darcy - arrogance and vanity covering a veneer of shyness and vulnerability - and enhanced it even further with Andevai. While Cat and Bee no longer astonish me - I feel as if I know them too well for that - Andevai still manages to make my jaw drop. (Okay, maybe that's because I'm swooning so much...can you blame me, though?)

If there are any true flaws with this installment it is that the plot thread concerning the Wild Hunt came up much later than I expected it to in the novel and was resolved rather quickly. Much of this story focuses on looming war and politics, so it made sense that after Cat's valiant rescue of Andevai the plot would cease to include the Spiritworld as much. I just don't think I realized how thoroughly, though, which was a bit of a surprise. For the most part, however, Cold Steel is a thrilling conclusion to this trilogy and will leave no fan disappointed. Furthermore, if you're a fan of fantasy and have yet to pick up this series, I cannot reiterate it enough: you are missing out. Kate Elliott has swiftly shot up to be one of my favorite authors and this series is very easily a favorite as well - one I will be returning to for years to come.

Summer Series Reading Challenge: 15


Jasprit said...

Keertana you always seem to be introducing me to new authors I've never heard of before. Elliot's world and characters that she has created looks absolutely wonderful. I don't blame you for swooning over Andevai, he sounds perfect! Thank you for another great recommendation and a fantastic review! :)

Rachel said...

Here's another series I need to add, Keertana. I love the fact that they're all published. I hate waiting the year between books. I forget details and I lose enthusiasm for the series. I have so many I haven't finished because I just don't care anymore. Wonderful review! :)

Tanja - Tanychy said...

I know how much you loved Cold Fire and I know that I'll be making space in the future to read this series. I really like the sound of world-building in this one. Sounds amazing. Lovely review Keertana :)

Jenny said...

Love when a series ends just as strong, if not stronger, than it started Keertana! It's always disappointing when the opposite happens and book one is the strongest of the lot, but clearly that's not the case here and I'm so glad this book was everything you could have hoped for!

Sam (Realm of Fiction) said...

I always sit up and listen when I hear there's another character making you swoon. ;) Andevai is someone I will have to meet one day. And I'm surprised that I haven't come across this trilogy before as it sounds fantastic. I'm glad it concluded well for you, Keertana. Brilliant review! :)

thebookwurrm said...

My favourite part of the novel was when Bee slaps Vai. He had it coming but that she went there! Oooo, this would NEVER happen in a YA novel, or at least has not happened yet, because friendships are used as crutches and never given the importance they deserve. And I loved how Elliott gives both marriage/HEA and being single yet enjoying lovers the same importance instead of preaching one over the expense of another. I'm glad you enjoyed this, Keertana.

Keertana said...

YES! Me too! I loved that scene, especially because Vai respects Bee and her friendship to Cat. I also thought that the moment he walked out would be drawn out into a long plot line with drama, so I was so relieved that that wasn't the case. Just that entire concept of Cat's friends sticking up for her in her marriage was so lovely.

I also haven't thought about how Elliott never preaches that marriage is any better than any other form of romantic relationships, but you're right - she never does! It's so rare to see that in YA. I know Under the Never Sky is so accepting of Perry and Aria's sexual relationship without putting a name on it, but many other books have an ending point of marriage to symbolize the ultimate union when that's not always the case. Thanks for bringing that up, Nafiza!(:

MåїÐ»-(¯`v´¯)-» said...

You are actually the person who introduced me to this series, and I have to say with every review you wrote for it, I got a little more intrigued! I love the sound of this series, and the characters sound fantastic! And seriously it can't be soon enough, when I finally meet Andevai. I'm happy to see this series concluded as per your expectations! I can't wait to read this! Great review, Keertana! :D

~ Maida
Literary Love Affair 

Lauren @ Love is not a triangle said...

Okay, I started to skim this because I haven't read the series, though it's for SURE on my radar now. But then I saw the word "distraught" and got worried! However, on closer reading, it seems like you were sad to see these characters go, instead of being upset at the content of the ending, correct? I hope that's the case, because I cannot wait to enjoy this world and these characters. Glad that these books have remained consistently strong for you!

Keertana said...

Yes, just to confirm, I loved the way this series wrapped up and was sad to see this series end. I have a feeling you'll enjoy this one, Lauren, so if you read it, I hope you like it!(: