K. Bird's Reviews > Cold Magic

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
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Dec 30, 10

Read on December 30, 2010

Catherine lives with her Aunt and Uncle and beloved cousin, Bee, in an alternate history Europe where the Roman Empire never really crumbled and America is a wild, unknown land populated by Trolls (a reptile, sentient race)

And there's magic. Princes and Mage Houses control pockets of land in a feudal system that leaves very little room for free choice.

When a Cold Mage appears on her doorstep one evening, her world, her paternity, and the life she had taken for granted is called into question.

The Cold Mage marries her, and drags her back to his House, where she enounters more danger, and learns more about the continuing friction between Cold Mages and the scientists hoping to further mankind's industrial progress.

I hesitate to make comparisons, usually, but reading Kate Elliott's prose reminded me of the luxurious, info-packed sentences of China Mieville. This world is vividly imagined, down to small details, and it is presented in doses that leave you hungering to understand more of the layers of politics, spiritworld, and more importantly, the background of the main characters.

But unlike, for me at least, Mieville's worlds, Cat, her cousin Bee, and the Cold Mage Andevain have layers of emotions themselves. These are characters not only interesting for who they are in the book, but also for the their relationships with eachother. While I often find myself distanced from Mieville characters, in Cold Magic I was instantly attracted to Cat and Andevain, and even the minor characters who help them on their journey, each one packed with so much backstory I wished for a novella-length "extras" at the end to reveal the full breadth of their history.

So why only four stars? Two things niggled a bit at my enjoyment of the book. One, Cat and Andevain spend a rather large amount of the book running from the other mages and each other. At times I wished for less hustling and more delving into relationships.

The other cmplaint I have is that Cat tended to repeat bits of history of her world or background explanations of her father or her trading clan. With all the fascinating world to explore, I sometimes tired of hearing the same stories told over and over again in almost the same words.

Despite that, this is a very promising start to a series I shall definitely keep my eye on.

This Book's Food Designation Rating: A rich, layered lasagna redolent with garlic and basil, with layers of creamy ricotta and spinach flavoring with noodles cooked to perfection for the layers of characters and worlds one can delve into and freely without hitting bottom.
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