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Cold Magic (Spiritwalker #1)

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,522 Ratings  ·  873 Reviews
The Wild Hunt is stirring - and the dragons are finally waking from their long sleep...

Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. Though they are in beginning of the Industrial Age, magic - and the power of the Cold Mages - still hold sway.
Kindle Edition, 545 pages
Published September 9th 2010 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sven The English copies I have are paperback, but I do have a Dutch hardcover copy at home as well. If it exists in Dutch, I suspect it will in English…moreThe English copies I have are paperback, but I do have a Dutch hardcover copy at home as well. If it exists in Dutch, I suspect it will in English too. (:(less)
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201st out of 416 books — 394 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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When I decided to put Cold Magic aside, after 67% of very little pleasure and a lot of struggle, I felt pretty angry and offended. Angry, because reading these 360 pages took a huge effort and did not dole out the tiniest reward. Offended, because the book, written by an author with quite some published writing to show as a proof for her skills, made me question my ability to focus, my ability to absorb and understand what I read and - for a short, shocking minute – the functionality of my Kindl ...more
May 18, 2016 Brad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
First off, I really ought to say that there are a lot of very good aspects to this novel. Some parts, such as the dream of the dragon, the bits with the illusions and the cold steel, and especially the alternate history of Europe right up to the Regency era, with all of the Napoleanic (Camjiata) flavors built right in, even going far back for the world-building to the great empire of Carthage, the Phoenicians.

Like I said, there's a lot to love.

Unfortunately, there's also the bad.

Andevai has got
A GR friend of mine has a shelf called wtf was this. And as I closed this book for the last time, utterly defeated by the barrage of incomprehensible & unnecessary pseudo-european cultural fantasy-speak, I actually thought what the f*ck was this? Too bad I don't have a shelf like that, or I'd put this on it.

I feel odd reviewing a book that i didn't finish. It might be unfair, really; other readers have claimed the book does improve in the second half. But I won't be there to see it. As much
Sep 13, 2010 Felicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-fantasy, fantasy
I wrote a really long review and somehow it got erased just as I was about to press "post." Is it because it's Monday? Jeeeez.

Ok, AS I WAS SAYING, this book was between 3 and 4 stars for me, but I gave it 4 because at the end of the book I was really satisfied and wanted more. I really really enjoyed Cold Magic, I liked the female protagonist a lot and the mystery behind the book and the politics of the world. Only negative: the world-building slogged down the pace in places though because there
Jan 10, 2012 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so FRUSTRATING

I mean, interesting premise: Steampunky alternate Europe in which there is widespread multicultural cross-pollination and ~magic~. Check!

Great characters: Headstrong young lady who has been sadly misinformed about herself for most of her life, and a Harlequin-worthy hatemance with the spoiled Cold Mage she's forced to marry and who is Not All What He Seems. Check!

But on the other hand--

Plot: Hello, yoo-hoo, plot? Where are you? Look at the cover blurb:

"Young Cat Baraha
Alex Fayle
May 08, 2011 Alex Fayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kate Elliott’s Cold Magic is about as slippery as dress shoes on ice. But fortunately without the painful fall.

Why is it slippery? Because it’s (as Elliott describes it) a mashup novel.

When I started reading I decided it was a magic-riddled steampunk novel. Then I decided it was also a political novel (exploring cultural beliefs using an alternate Europe). But no sooner had I decided that when Elliott threw in an “I hate him with all my heart” romance in the best Harlequin tradition. Later, once
The beginning of Cold Magic was both slow and felt rather cumbersome, and while I did not precisely struggle to read it, I was more than ambivalent about it. There are reasons for this. The world building has to begin and the author balances a delicate line between too much detail and exposition and not enough (well, like all fantasy novels). I wouldn't say that it was clumsily done, but it was a little heavy. I found myself at turns confused and then enlightened and then confused once more, but ...more
Jun 30, 2011 Krystle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve held off on this review for long enough, haven’t I? Well, let’s get started then. Cold Magic is fabulous!

I think the strongest part of the book is the world building. There is great depth and complexity woven through it, created with a great deal of intricate thought. Not only is there an established rank of classes with all its ensuing ramifications (prejudice, the dynamic between the rich and the poor, etc), careful economic considerations (what makes the poor, poorer and what makes the
Jul 06, 2015 Krbo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Roman epske fantastike u kojem se znanost i magija blablabla...."


Evo dva citata da odmah shvatite o kakvoj se "epskoj fantastici" radi:


"Poljubac može biti kao okretaj svijeta. Može biti kao plima zmajskog sna koja se prelijeva neviđenim svijetom skrivenim od očiju smrtnika koji svejedno prožima sve naše živote. Može biti vruć i hladan istovremeno, prostran kao nebesa ali precizan u dodiru ruku i razdvajanju usana. Može podići snažnije osjećaje nego što sam očekivala, kao da me progutal
An awesome book that blew me away;

The setting is an ice-age like alt-Earth around the 1800's but with a quite different history, magic houses, but also budding science that the "cold mages" dislike and want suppressed, but the local princes try to protect

The heroine/narrator is Cat (Catherine) of Carthaginian descent - here 2000 years ago Carthage was ruled by queens (called dido's for the famous mythical founder) and Hannibal defeated the Romans at Zama for once, so the two powers fought thems
Dec 11, 2013 Carol. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: possibly the fans of the Parasol Protectorate series
Pretty close to awful. In fairness, I'll admit I'm not a fan of Victorian romances. Didn't think this was one?


But since GR doesn't want me being mean, or off-topic (and I'm going to be both), I'll continue this little discussion at:
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
I'm not sure what I was expecting this book to be but, whatever it was, what I got wasn't it. I think I expected more historical relevance, more political intrigue, perhaps less romance, though I'm certainly not opposed to romance in a story, and more, well - I think what I expected was for the world-building and the history to be more important to the actual story than it was.

There are times when the history becomes relevant to the story line, like the not travelling abroad during Samhain and t
My first Kate Elliott book. I HAVE SUCH FOND MEMORIES. *_* Things this book has:

- awesome diverse cast!
- lady friendships that are incredibly important to both ladies AND THE PLOT!
- examination and critique of colonialism and other terrible social ills, BY CLEVER HEROINE and company
- kissing!
- magic!
- a complicated romance with a dude that doesn't come with an easy resolution that both people have to work for!

More thoughts (with spoilers):
I really enjoyed this alternate world Regency fantasy - great world-building, characters, and peril. My main complaint is that I think it needed to be pared down - parts got a bit repetitive.
Ranting Dragon
Sep 15, 2011 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michael

Cold Magic is the first book in the new Spirit Walker trilogy by Kate Elliott, established author of both the Crown of Stars and the Crossroads series. As the result of a family obligation, Catherine Hassi Barahal is forced into an arranged marriage to a young noble, an enigmatic cold mage. She is immediately torn away from her home and her education in the technology of the impending industrial age, only to find that marriage into a mage house is far from
Mar 15, 2013 Vivian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Boring, long and it desperately needed a good editor.
Also, Cold Magic was very poorly researched. It felt as if the author set up a dart board with the names of ancient cultures and just started throwing darts. Whatever names the darts hit, she'd use in her story without actually trying to make their usage be coherent or research the cultures customs, languages or anything. Sort of like a child who decided to wear all of his or hers best clothes at once. The result is cute for a while, but if d
Cold Magic is an alternate history fantasy, but unlike any I’ve read before. It takes place in England in the 1800s - I think, since there isn’t really an England or a Victoria as far I can tell. Some aspects of both Regency and Victorian society are there, including an alternate Industrial Revolution. All of Europe is still frozen in an extended ice age. There are mage houses and princes in conflict with serving classes and technology, and there is just a tiny bit of steampunkishness to it - th ...more
I don't often find a book I want to read again after the first initial inhalation of its story and characters. I don't want to pore over events that shape the narrative, linger over the words spoken and the feelings felt by the different characters. It's a rare book that engages me to the extent that I will read and reread because every time I do, I find something more to take away from it.Cold Magic, the first book in the Spirit Walker trilogy, is one such rare book. I found myself reading as s ...more
Three and a half stars.

I loved: the setting. Roman Empire continued a lot later than in "our world", and the society Elliott depicted is fascinating.

I didn't love: the setting. It probably didn't help that I read this while (re)-working on a section of our book to do with alternate histories, and this almost is and isn't quite an alternate history. Little things kept niggling at me about that - why should there still be so much hatred against the Romans - even to the point of one character's say
Sue (Hollywood News Source)
Actual Rating: 3. 5 stars

I would’ve rated it higher if I didn’t skimmed some of the scenes I deemed unnecessary.

Cold Magic is without doubt one of the most ingenious and well established book I’ve ever read. Elliott approached the fantasy genre by meshing steampunk in her work with a heavy emphasis on cultural diversity.

I’m a mess and I don’t know if I could ever justify how inclusive this book is. I love how Cold Magic tackled kinship without blood relation, colonialism, slavery, empowering wo
Sarah Anne
This feels, for some reason, like it skims the surface of a story. It lacks density and heft. It is kind of cute at times. I like Cat and her relationship with Bea but so much of this is so light.
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The positive things I've heard about Kate Elliott's books, especially praise for her Crossroads trilogy, have always piqued my curiosity and made me feel like I'm missing out for not having read any of her work. So when I saw the Cold Magic ebook on sale a few months back, I snapped it up and didn't even hesitate for a second.

From its description, the book sounded like it would be right up my alley. Dawn of a new age? An I
COLD MAGIC is a fantastic cross-genre epic, bringing together themes from epic fantasy, romantic fantasy, steampunk, and alternative history to snare readers for hours. I was 100% sucked into this world, reading the first two 500+ page installments in less than a week. If the third was available, I’d be reading that one right now too!

Catherine Hassi Barahal is a young woman raised in a family known for its skill as merchants of other words, spies. She’s trained to use a blade an
Foz Meadows
Jul 02, 2010 Foz Meadows rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is going to be a longish review and also a rambling one, so I’ll ask you to bear with me.

Despite having purchased the third volume in Kate Elliott’s amazing Crossroads trilogy close on three months ago, I’ve not yet started reading it. This is due, in large part, to the originality of her worldbuilding; and I mean that as a compliment. Being as I am a devout mythology and history geek and also a lifelong fantasist, there are certain narrative cues to which my interests make me sensitive. Wh
Ms. Library
Where did I get this book?: From the public library!

How did I find out about this book? TheNightBookmobile recommended it, who can found over on blogspot.

Plot: Cat Barahal is a young woman going to college one day, and then she is swept away into a world she doesn’t understand. Much that she has always known is revealed to be untrue, and she has to deal with her new circumstances and the new people around her who may not have her best interest at heart. She has to deal with cold mages and the sp

Honestly, the first half of the book was such a bore and so confusing. It basically dragged where I didn't care much for any of the characters and had no idea how their world worked. The second half was the polar opposite - almost everything was explained at the end and things just got too interesting to stop turning pages. The problem I had with this book was the worldbuilding and dialogue. So many characters in the novel spoke in riddles and I didn't understand a thing. It didn't help that
Jan 06, 2011 MissM rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, nook
It was just ok. The idea seemed interesting - kind of a Victorian Steampunk Alt Earth thing - but her style of writing is just atrocious. It's like she's trying WAY too hard to be flowery, convoluted and circumspect and I just got annoyed at it. I had such a hard time trudging through it that it took me forever to finish and I read several short stories during it just to break away a bit.

I was probably 90 pages in when I realized I had tried (unsuccessfully) to read another book of hers in the p
♥ Unaeve ♥
My new favorite series!
Actually ,my new favorite author!
Oh how i longed to find someone like Kate Elliott !
I have few favorite authors and have read everything they have written so i found my self in an empty void,looking around for more good books and writers but found nothing really spectacular lately..
I just couldn't sniff out any more authors like Anne McCaffrey,Robin Hobb,Trudi Canavan.. until now:)

I just ended the second part of the trilogy and considering that the third and the last part:
Mar 18, 2016 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of fictional encyclopedic detail
(Below are some impressions from my second reading of Cold Magic. The original review, unedited, is below the ***.)

I've been working hard to figure out why this series has proved difficult for me. I do not believe that it is difficult--there is nothing to mark it as an experimental piece or something like that.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Cat's main supporting cast spends so much time apart from her. Cat and Bee, Cat and Andevai, Cat and Rory meet, are separated for dozens or even hundr
Jul 29, 2010 Cecelia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone slips into reading funks every now and then, right? I know that when I’m disorganized, stressed at my real job, and feeling overwhelmed by it all, I’m not a great reader. But I still start looking around for that one book that will kick me out of my rut. The one that will break my malaise, in other words. Cold Magic did the trick for me recently. And not to be precipitate, but it’s one of my favorite books of the year.

Going in to reading this book, I knew that it had a pretty cover and
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As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. It should therefore come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight.

When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely
More about Kate Elliott...

Other Books in the Series

Spiritwalker (3 books)
  • Cold Fire (Spiritwalker, #2)
  • Cold Steel (Spiritwalker, #3)

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“I will either find a way, or make one.” 22 likes
“A kiss can be like the world turning over. It can be like the tide of a dragon's dream washing through the unseen world that is hidden to mortal eyes but that nevertheless permeates our being. It can be hot and cold together, as vast as the heavens and yet specific to the pressure of hands and the parting of lips. It raised more intense feelings than I had expected, like being engulfed in a storm of lightning.” 14 likes
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