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


  1. World building and character growth. WHY haven't I started this series yet? WHY? So right up my alley.

  2. This series gets better and better! I liked the first, but like you, I found the second one to be so much stronger.

    Your analogy about how reading this is like sticking your heart in the washing machine? SO VERY TRUE.

    I love love how Andevai was developed over this book. I was interested in him from book one, but this made me ship him and Cat. Hard.

    The change of pace was welcome for me. One of the reasons Cold Magic was a 3.75/5 rather than a 4 was how slow things moves. I get that she had a lot of worldbuiling, but the meandering pace killed me.

    And yes to the real love and friendship between Cat and Bee. It's so refreshing.

    GREAT REVIEW. This made me remember I need to get on reading Cold Steel ASAP!

  3. I really like the cover of this book Keertana! I hadn't heard of this book before or this trilogy before, but I do like the fact that there's a couple involved who are already together, but working out their kinks in the relationship. Lol like Jessie I loved your washing machine analogy. It made me laugh!
    Lovely Review :).

  4. So if you liked this one, you're going to supremely love Cold Steel. I was SO satisfied with that ending, dude. It was brilliant in all the correct ways. And you are right, the friendship between Bee and Cat is one of the biggest attractions of the series. Did you like Rory? He is possibly my favourite character; he's so not human, so other in his observations and comments about human beings and their contrary ways. I can't wait to see what you think of Cold Steel. It has a lot of the same elements but their romance does become realer and for me, a lot more satisfying because it goes in that direction.

  5. Okay, like I said when you reviewed COLD MAGIC, I've put off reading this series for so dang long. I'm really intrigued now, and I love the fact that the author laid a solid foundation for the series in the first book and now readers are launched into the action with the next installment - and you loved them both! I'm sold. What a fantastic review, Keertana! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  6. Kate Elliott is one of the names that I have heard a lot of but haven't read any work. This one sounds so good that I want to start it right away. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :) Great review :)

  7. Wow Keertana! Love that washing machine visual! I've read a couple books that have felt like they've done that to my heart, and I love those books so much even as I curse them for hurting me so badly. Clearly I need to give this series a try, I'm a fan of Cat and her strength and independence already! Absolutely Beautiful review:)

  8. I loved the sound of this series when I read your review for Cold Magic, and this review totally has me sold! I love that this book brought forth so many emotions and really got into the world-building, characters growth and even the politics. But what really has me intrigued is the setting. I want to compare how different it is from our own world. And most of all, the characters!! I love the sound of Cat. She is so kick-ass and I really enjoy heroines liker. As for made me fall in love with him in your Cold Magic review and after this I just want him all the more. I can't wait to meet him and see how his and Cat's relationship develops.

    Overall, this sounds fantastic! I can't wait to get lost in Kate Elliot't world! I'm glad you enjoyed this, Keertana! Fabulous review! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  9. Your opening paragraph completely sold me that I need to give this series a try. I was just discussing with my cousin today that I really enjoy books which completely destroy your heart, books which do this, always leave the biggest impact with me. I will certainly be giving this series a go, it sounds utterly fantastic!

    1. Yes, I'd love to see what you think of this! Just to clarify, though, I wouldn't say this one so much destroys your heart as it does take it on a whirlwind journey of emotion. It really felt exhausting by the end because I was feeling ALL THE FEELS so to speak. ;) I love you enjoy this, Jasprit!(:

  10. Keertana, your reviews are simply stunning. They never fail to blow me away. This book seems like one heck of a roller coaster. It's wonderful when a sequel can really shine, especially if it's better than the first. :D The world-building in these novels really has me excited, since quality world-building is so difficult to find in books. Also, I love how this story has such a strong friendship that survives so many tests. I myself have a friendship like that, and I find they're almost never present in novels.

    Gorgeous review, Keertana! I will have to check out the first book of this series! <3

  11. Sounds like a powerful read, Keertana! I'm totally intrigued and the fact that you gave it 5 stars immediately has me on alert. I'm wondering when the last book comes out because I like to read these kinds of stories one right after the other. Must do some digging. Excellent review. :)

  12. My heart started palpitating when I read that first sentence. IDK, that sounded pretty worrisome. BUT, the way you describe this book - the strong heroine, character growth, positive female friendships, swoony romance, awesome setting, I'm definitely off to check these out! It appears that the series is finished, as you counted it towards your series challenge, which is even better!

  13. Wow, I'm not sure I could handle this one! LOL Great review! I'll be looking into this one for sure. :)


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