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Spiritwalker #3

Cold Steel

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Trouble, treachery, and magic just won't stop plaguing Cat Barahal. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen her husband Andevai. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother's murder. The infamous General Camjiata insists she join his army to help defeat the cold mages who rule Europa. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee, and her half-brother Rory, aren't even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets.

Revolutions to plot. Enemies to crush. Handsome men to rescue.

Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them.

614 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2013

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About the author

Kate Elliott

106 books2,604 followers
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. She currently lives in Hawaii, where she paddles outrigger canoes and spoils her schnauzer.

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5 stars
1,147 (32%)
4 stars
1,435 (40%)
3 stars
758 (21%)
2 stars
164 (4%)
1 star
45 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 313 reviews
Profile Image for Ticktock.
73 reviews2 followers
June 26, 2013
This is going to be a rare giant rambling essay of a book review, but I just finished the conclusion to the Spiritwalker Trilogy and I'm feeling kind of lost and bittersweet and book hangover-y. And I have things to say.
Man to Cat Barahal: "You're a fiery beast, lass. It will take a strong man to harness you."
Cat: "It would take a strong man not to speak of harnesses!"

We start off in the Antilles, dealing with the aftermath of Cat's choice (sort of--she didn't really have much of one) to have the Wild Hunt sacrifice the Taino queen and then the Master of the Hunt's subsequent kidnapping of Cat's husband Andevai. Basically, the big cliffhanger at the end of Cold Fire. The story ranges from there to the spirit world to all over Europa. We get to see basically every character from the past books again, as well as meet some previously unseen or unknown family members of the characters. Some former enemies become unexpected allies. The revolution the radicals have been calling for finally starts. (Looking at the series overall, now that I'm at the end, it's really crazy how many shifting alliances we've seen between the various characters.) And then at the end Cat has her big hero moment where she realizes that all the time her legacy has been loyalty to those she has chosen as her friends and family, and has to make the big sacrificial choice.

Along the way we get war, many descriptions of Vai's massive collection of dash jackets, and some great and funny banter between Cat, Rory, Bee, and Vai. How awesome was Bee in this book? She really comes into her own here. She had a great quote: "Because I'm beautiful, people expect me to have a romantical disposition." By the end she's realized that who we (and she) thought she was in the beginning isn't who she is at all.

And then there's Vai.
"I let pride go to my head, as I will no doubt do again someday--"
"Tomorrow," Bee muttered.
"--but I know it is my weakness."

Now. Does this book have flaws? Yes. As much as I loved the ability to dive into a looooong story about characters I love (I think I've been reading too much YA and romance lately--it'd been a long time since I read something I couldn't put away in less than 3 hours), I felt the cycle of "They escape! Only to get caught by someone else! Or the same bad guys! And escape again!" went on too many times. This happened a lot in this book. And I mean a lot. I think I would have been OK with… ehh… maybe 2-3 fewer dramatic escapes. The sections where "she's with Vai! She's with Bee! Now they're all together! Now they're with different people! Now they get split up again!" are all kind of blending together in my head.

So it's probably a flaw, but I will say that Kate Elliott has drawn these characters so well I would read them sitting at a table reading the paper and eating breakfast and bantering to each other over and over, let alone dramatically escaping.

I stayed up till 3 AM to finish this, while concurrently watching Wendy Davis filibuster a bill in Texas that would cause women to lose control over their own health choices. I am now experiencing a book hangover the likes of which I have not seen since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I didn't realize until I did my third re-read of this series that it had really grown into that much of a favorite.

Last night I couldn't help thinking we need fantasy books like this. We need books about female characters who are feminist, but not "hey! everyone learned an easy lesson about girls being equal to boys! and it was happy and the end!" A really feminist character is a complete character who has ideals but struggles with them. And makes poor choices. And loves sewing but also knows how to use a sword. We need books that feature female relationships. Books that aren't sausage fests or white people parties. Books that let girls (and ones with brown skin too!) make that classic bookstopper fantasy hero journey. Books about how beaten-down groups of people can rise up and make a new world.

Reading taste is highly subjective, obviously. But I've always felt that this series is something I've always wanted to read and never could find. Something I've been waiting for. Something that was written for me.
"But in the midst of the monstrous assembly that is slave to fortune, each solitary small figure who linked her hand to another built a chain of loyalty and trust.

We make ourselves into the net that we throw across the ocean."

To me a 5 star rating isn't an indication that a book has no flaws. It's something I actually never give on first reads. A 5 star book is one that makes me come back to read and re-read and love. A 5 star book is one that "gets" me, one that has something elusive about it that elevates it from "great read" to "favorites."

I therefore give Cold Steel 5 stars and retroactively add the 5th star to all the books in the series. It's been wonderful and I loved it.
Profile Image for Mads.
68 reviews59 followers
May 30, 2016
According to me a Prologue or the 1st Chapter of a book is THE reflection - SO it must capture my attention from page 1 I will continue a few more chapters to give the Book a fair chance to change my mind!
SO Herewith my review!


Prologue & Chapter 1
Third and final book of Kate Elliot's Spiritwalker trilogy finishes with an explosion
At this point, there's no point trying to jump into the story without first having read the first two books in the trilogy, all three books are closely tangled and each forms upon the last when it comes to constructing a full story of enormous scope and detail. I really love this trilogy! One reason is that Elliott doesn't let the settlements of the fantasy genre limit the story told in the books

Type of Characters and my choices according to pictures :

Relationship development

Perhaps most interesting of all is when Cat is forced to concede that the Mansa of Four Moons House, the very man who she ran for her life from in the first book, might not be such a bogeyman after all. Likewise, James Drake is a dangerous and impulsive opponent, but even he is afforded a few moments of humanity by the narrative. The fullness of life and the multi-faceted nature of human beings is something that Elliot outshines at, and she has a gift of making even the smallest character feel like a three-d person.

Best of all, this book reunites Cat with her cousin Beatrice and her half-brother Rory, the trilogy's most alluring characters - not just in themselves, but for the deep connection they share with Cat.
Likewise, Elliot knows that "strength" in a female character is not leisurely solely by her ability to swing a sword or lead an uprising!!! When Cat meets her husband's mother and sisters they are wholly feminine individuals, but just as worthy of respectand love as the girls who can fight or give an emotion speech on uprising.

Chapter Development

Eventually, this isn't a story about saving the world from the forces of darkness, it's about changing the world for the better, moving from an old totalitarian regime to one that embraces equality and democracy for all.

Epilogue! →
Adam Lambert - Time For Miracles

Recommend to the following type of readers: →
Not sure but not explicit!

Why my rating?→
Don’t be foolish read the book!!!!

Will I read it again?→

My feelings while reading this: →


To the Author
This trilogy is brilliant and I didn't think Ms Elliott could wrap it up so perfectly - but she does.
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,121 reviews1,201 followers
August 24, 2013
The real review is here! Some of you who liked my pre-release comments might want to retract: no offense taken, I promise.

This is a 3.5-star book, rounded up because Goodreads still doesn't have half-stars. Cold Magic is still my favorite of the trilogy, but I do think this one works better than Cold Fire.

Like the first two books in this trilogy, Cold Steel gets off to a rocky start: it begins with a dream sequence (!) and the first 100 pages feel a bit frantic and disjointed, as the protagonists hurry back to Europa to get into position for the final installment. Once the plot finds it feet, though, it's good fun, with all the daring escapes, rescues, battles, love scenes, shifting allegiances and political upheaval that one could hope for. The downside is that there's perhaps too much packed into its 600 pages: while I don't think of this trilogy as YA, the pacing here is exactly what I wanted as a teen, each new twist raised and resolved within a couple of chapters. But as an adult, whether because of the instant gratification or because the tone is fairly uniform, I found it difficult to get invested: the book would be on to a new situation before emotions had time to develop.

The best thing about this book, and the reason I wish I could have loved it, is its thoughtfulness. Its progressive, feminist ethos informs every aspect of the story, keeping it fresh where it might otherwise have been just another fantasy adventure. If you've been looking for an epic fantasy series that's about changing the world rather than maintaining the status quo, this is it. But it's no good-vs-evil story: even within the ranks of those who want to upend the caste system, there are divisions and it's unclear who's in the right. I especially appreciated Elliott's leaving the political situation unresolved: because progress doesn't end, nor does it reach a point where all major obstacles are overcome.

Meanwhile, it's always a relief to read a fantasy book whose author has clearly thought about her representation of people, through, for instance, having a mostly non-white cast and positive portrayals of women in all walks of life. Cat and Bee both come into their own in this installment, and there's a host of other strong women as well; I would have liked to see some of them developed more, but what's notable is that the book portrays a wide variety of women worthy of respect, rather than one "exceptional" girl (just like real life). Cat's strength comes from both her ability to handle herself in a fight and her success in more traditionally feminine roles (I especially liked her bonding with Andevai's mother and little sisters). Relationships are also handled in interesting ways: Bee discovers sex and makes the most of it--which surprised me, though it shouldn't have--while Cat and Andevai have to figure out how to make their marriage work despite sometimes-conflicting goals and loyalties.

But ultimately this is entertainment reading. And it did mostly entertain. It has its weaknesses, such as enemies and powerful figures who seem rather too willing to engage with Cat and Bee on their terms, and some dialogue that sounds more declamatory than natural. But it also has plenty of strengths: characters seem like genuine products of their culture and families, for a fast-paced set of books the characters and their relationships are well-developed, and there are moments of real humor. The alternate Earth is fully imagined, with cultures that feel real and complex, and the first book's tendency toward awkward exposition is thankfully reduced here. I even enjoyed the spirit world (an element of fantasy books for which I generally have little patience), which creates a powerful mood but remains mysterious, without bogging down the story.

So in the end I'm rounding up in spite of the fact that, for me, this book skimmed the surface emotionally, because I found much to appreciate here and would like to see more books along this line. For those who have read the first two books, this one provides a satisfying conclusion, and I would recommend this trilogy to those looking for something different in fantasy.


My pre-release comments:

I am in love with this cover!


Good lord, why would anyone give a book 1-2 stars before it's even published?? If you're so convinced it's going to suck, find something else to read. I'm tempted to give a high rating to counteract this, but I don't believe in rating books before reading them.
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 45 books128k followers
January 28, 2014
I have enjoyed this trilogy a lot, and the last installment wraps everything up in a really nice way. This is an alt-steampunk-Victorian-type world with magic and faeries and it's a really lovely meld of all of those things, without being too cheesy. It's very female-centric, the two young women lead characters are sisters and they're really portrayed as well-rounded and believable, which I appreciated. The theme of the book follows their liberation and freedom, among other things, and even though they have love interests, it never hampers their growth.

The tone leans a touch young adult, but it's a great series and I was satisfied with the ending, which is always good, lol. Recommended for fans of Parasol protectorate, or even Phillip Pullman. It straddles a lot of genres and does so with finesse!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,260 reviews222 followers
July 11, 2016
A satisfying if not perfect ending to the series.

This one has a bit of a rough start. Rough as in draft, as it feels like the first 20% or so could have done with another run of editing, or a rework or something. I think the basic problem is that at the end of the second book the main character and her friends are stuck in the Caribbean and for this book they needed to be in Europa and the transition stuff just had to get done.

Once the action moves to Europa the storyline stabilizes a bit until Cat gets to travel to the spirit world to rescue Vai from her sire. After which the pair introduce us to more of Europa that we haven't seen before as well as reestablishing their romance. But fairly quickly the group again get embroiled in the Europa current events with the war between the mage houses, princes and Romans on one side, Camjiata's Iberian troops and radicals on the other and more moderate radicals on the other with trolls being part of both the last two forces.

This all comes together in the end. You find out what's going on with the Wild Hunt. You find out why the Master of Wild Hunt made a deal with Tara Bell. You find out much more about Camjiata (who continues to be a colossal asshole). You get an idea of how the mage houses may evolve for the new world. And all the core characters get a satisfactory conclusion.

I will point out that at least one antagonist undergoes a fairly major personality transplant before any of this is possible. There's just no way to reconcile the actions of the Mansa of Four Moons House with the character in this book and I can't help but wonder if the author would have preferred to go back and soften the character somewhat in the first book had that been possible.
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
August 13, 2016
This series is just wonderful. A fitting end to the series, which sees Cat navigating her way to happiness in a remarkably realistic way, considering the presence of talking dinosaurs, magic, a man who turns into a sabre tooth cat, and the Spirit World. A definite favourite.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,207 followers
July 25, 2013
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I was so satisfied with a series. Most of them always leave something unsaid or ambiguous and these things niggle at me because imagination only takes me so far. You know? So settle in. I have a lot to say about the last installment in the Spiritwalker trilogy.

I recently reread the first one just to see if the magic of the book still affected me in the same way and I am happy to report that yes, it did. I appreciated the novel more on the second read because I could focus on the nuances rather than the primary narrative. I haven’t read any of Elliott’s other works yet but if they are anything like the Spiritwalker trilogy, I’ll be loving them. I read Cold Steel rather more slowly and at a far more relaxed pace than I am known to do so considering my desire to practically inhale the book. Because I am currently fasting, I find it difficult to focus for too long on one thing and this worked well with Cold Steel. Because the novel is immense and complicated, this meant that I read a chunk, digested it, thought about it and then continued the journey. I think this helped me not feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the things happening in the novel. This also made me appreciate the details and the nuanced relationships between the characters.

I have spoken out about this before but I will reiterate once again that I find YA to be miserably lacking where friendships between girls are concerned. The synthesis of a sisterhood, heck sisterhood itself seems like an alien (and improbable) concept where (most) YA fiction is concerned. That’s why it was so refreshing to read a novel in which there were strong female characters no matter their importance in the narrative itself. All females in this novel kicked ass in several different ways. They are not all physical fighters; Bee uses her skill with words and oratory to make a difference while Cat takes a much more physical approach. But more than that, it is the relationship between Cat and Bee that won me totally over. I have experienced it many times but when female friends find boyfriends they, intentionally or not, phase you out from their lives. They begin existing as an extension of that relationship and more as a couple than as an individual in a relationship. But that’s getting ahead of myself here. One of the most powerful moments in the novel is when Bee slaps Vai for speaking to Cat rudely and contemptuously. She stands up for her best friend and cousin and it’s sweeter because I have been there. I have been by friends who got treated badly by their partners. I empathized so hard at those moments, honestly. I wanted to cheer.

The other most awesome part about this novel was the romance. Yes, it wasn’t actually perfect and there were some boring moments but such is Elliott’s wordsmithery that even loving Cat and Vai together, I would have been happy if Cat had cut her strings, burned her bridges and moved on. Vai is just as flawed as Cat, perhaps more so and while he is wonderful in certain ways, he is extremely frustrating in others and that was expressed quite sharply. His vanity, his foibles, his personality and his insecurities all came together to create a credible conflict between Cat and him and that served to keep the tension (and readability) of the relationship alive. What I also loved is that Elliott offers us two types of romance: one is the true blue stars in your eyes romance, a la Cat and Vai, and the other is love as you can when you want how you want like Bee does. Neither way is scorned or judged and I loved the liberty offered by this.

The story itself is immense and readers are asked to take in quite a lot of things. However, things are not tied up neatly and smugly where the world is concerned and it makes sense because the revolution occurring cannot be contained within just one book. It’s breadth is far too wide to be encompassed in just one novel and that is not the primary motive of the narrative at all. At its heart, the novel is a bildungsroman of sorts – for Cat, Vai and Bee.

So yeah, I was supremely satisfied by this trilogy. I didn’t always love it but it always impressed me. The third novel is the strongest one and if you haven’t picked it up yet, what the heck are you waiting for?
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
644 reviews79 followers
November 24, 2016
This is the final book in Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy. It was more entertaining than the middle book, which I thought had a lot more boring and tedious parts. There was one aspect of the story that I feared would be stretched out for the entire book, but it was wrapped up earlier than I expected so I was happy about that. The story held my interest better than the second book and equally as well as the first book. There was a minor thread or two that never really got tied up, but the ending wrapped most things up pretty well and I was satisfied with it.

As far as the series itself goes, it was pretty good, but it had several annoyances as I’ve mentioned in my reviews for the previous books. The story was entertaining, for the most part, and I liked the characters. I also enjoyed the character-driven humor which seemed to increase as the series progressed. I did think things often happened too conveniently, and with a few niggling inconsistencies here and there. I think, if I hadn’t had such fond memories of this author’s Crossroads trilogy, I might have enjoyed this series a little more for what it is because my expectations wouldn’t have been as high. I did enjoy it, but I was a little disappointed by it too.
Profile Image for Katharine Kerr.
Author 68 books1,465 followers
June 29, 2013
Don't be put off by the length of this volume. The complexity of the series -- its characters and underlying ideas, not merely its plot -- demand the length, and it's well worth it! Elliott manages to tie off a great many strands of interesting material without ever succumbing to the rushed ending or the easy way out. Cat's relationship to her "sire" is particularly well done.

And the very last couple of lines of the book made me laugh out loud. If you wonder why Elliott told this story in first person, you will now know.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
August 8, 2013
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.
12 reviews
August 15, 2013
I have to admit I was extremely disappointed with this book, the final in the Spirit Walker trilogy. The trilogy had started off well with a gripping first book (Cold Magic) and a second book (Cold Fire) that came very near to reaching this standard too. Then there's this final book. And to be honest, it annoyed the hell out of me.

Sadly Kate Elliott decided that the strong, independent main character (Cat) had to become a loved up, boy and sex obsessed girl. I realise that she's a character who is very protective over those she loves but seriously, this takes it beyond the ridiculous. Every time she thinks of him, she goes gooey and lustful (with unnecessary description of her thoughts). Every time something might happen to his favourite dash jackets, she takes offence and gets angry (it's just clothing sweetheart!). And every time they are alone, whether it's just a day they have to rest from the exhaustion of the latest adventure or if they are having an important discussion that's pretty key to the plot line, it ends with sex. Every. Time. I admit that I usually like having a love story line next to the adventures in this genre of books but in my opinion it shouldn't be the main story line. If I wanted that, I wouldn't read fantasy books and I'd like Twilight rather than want to shred it.

As for the actual plot lines, I found that the ideas were great but the writing of it was chaotic in this book, like Elliott was trying to squeeze in everything within a strict word limit (in my opinion she simply needed to get rid of some of the love story elements and she would have had enough space). Therefore the final conclusions were, for most story lines, dissatisfying.

So on the whole, a very poor end to what could have a been a great trilogy.
Profile Image for JJ DeBenedictis.
194 reviews11 followers
July 24, 2013
This is the final book in a trilogy, and on the balance, I'd say it was a good investment of my time--but I probably won't invest money in this author again. In hindsight, I'd classify the series as get-it-at-the-library-good, rather than get-it-at-the-bookstore-good.

This third novel has the same strengths and weaknesses as the first two books in the series, although I think the first book was best.

The characters have a bit of a twee, chattering way of speaking that occasionally borders on annoying, but usually managed to be kind of endearing--a bit like the relentlessly chipper and upright characters British children's books once featured.

All three books have a tendency to infodump wildly in the form of frequent, bald-faced "As you know, Bob" conversations. However, in the first book, I was actually won over by this because the infodumps explained some really interesting worldbuilding--an alternate Earth where a zombie outbreak in Mali caused the African diaspora, the melding of African and Celtic magic gave rise to powerful mage houses across Europe, and a species of sentient, feathered dinosaurs in the Americas are establishing trade relations with the rest of the world. Cool stuff!

Unfortunately, in this third book, the infodumps were largely a bunch of political opinions stated at some length, so they were more tiresome to read.

The beginning of Cold Steel featured a plot that seemed to lurch around with a lot of action but not a particularly convincing motivation. However, things gelled in the second half, and the story became quite satisfying and exciting.

At the end, the author tied up some fairly complex plots in an interesting and consistent way, so I finished the book feeling pretty happy overall. This is definitely an author who can handle depth and keep all the balls in the air.

So overall, I think this book, and this series, were pretty fun and engaging, if a bit flawed. I'm not totally won over, but I do think other readers will be (especially if you're more of a fan of romance and alpha males than I am.) I'd recommend trying out the first book in the series to see whether you're grabbed, and then base your decision about the latter two on that.
Profile Image for Jessica.
25 reviews7 followers
April 23, 2021
"Either find a way, or make one."

I just.. loved it. So much.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews263 followers
July 1, 2013
As with any magnificent series, I’m bereft that this is the last book in the Spiritwalker’s Trilogy.

Kate Elliot once again is a master of vividly creating this fabulous world of mages, magic, dragons and the spirit realm. It is a highly complex world that Elliot brings to life and even though the book is quite lengthy the story is enhanced by Elliot’s descriptive writing.

Cat Barahal is as enchanting as ever, funny and overcoming insurmountable odds. Cat, Bee and Rory are all outstanding characters to follow on their own, add them together you get marvelous results!

Cat must rescue her husband Via from her father, help in the revolution, face down murder charges and destroy her enemies. Of course Rory and Bee are her ever constant companions.

I did find this book a little slower going than book 1 and book 2 which were immense world building and character additions. Cold Steel was it all coming together. Don’t get me wrong, loved the story, loved the conclusion, just missed the fresh and unexpected that the first two books provided.

Without a doubt, Cold Steel is an incredible addition to the Spiritwalker trilogy, a fantasy enthusiast’s perfect read and a book that marks the ending of a wonderful adventure. Thank you Kate Elliot for making your imaginations come to life and sharing it in your brilliant writing.

I received this copy of Cold Steel from Hachette Book Group - Orbit in exchange for a honest review. This book was published June 25, 2013.

Written by: Kate Elliot
Series: The Spiritwalker Trilogy
Sequence in Series: 3
Pages: 624
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
ISBN-10: 031608090X
ISBN-13: 978-0316080903
Rating: 4.5
Genre: Fantasy
Age Recommendation: Young Adult +
Kate Elliot's Website

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Profile Image for Izzie.
239 reviews105 followers
June 13, 2019
A long but ultimately satisfying conclusion to this trilogy. Elliott manages to bring many disparate aspects together to create a fun and complex story. And we got to meet the fabled dragons at long last!
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
July 15, 2013
3.5 stars

My feelings for Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy have been all over the map, from boredom to fangirling to intense admiration to irritation. Most emotions it's capable for me to feel about a book, I've felt somewhere along the way through this series. Though I'm not entirely satisfied with the way that Cold Steel concluded everything, the Spiritwalker Trilogy stands out in my mind as one of my recent favorites, and will remain a much loved part of my collection. Though I do not usually do this, my Cold Steel review will be spoiler-free for the series.

The biggest strength of this trilogy is Catherine (Cat). She's a plucky, intelligent, clever, sneaky, passionate, impulsive heroine, and I love her to bits. Certainly, at times, she can be quite frustrating, unwilling to look past her own stubbornness, and she often races into danger without a thought. Also, she's no sweet innocent; she will do bad or wild things, and she does not necessarily regret them. Cat is a powerful heroine in just about every meaning of the word.

Even better, Elliott does not fall into the trap that so many authors do of writing only one strong female character, afraid that empowering women in general would lessen the heroine's specialness. Actually, pretty much every woman encountered within the pages of this trilogy is strong in one way or another, or perhaps more than one way. Cat's cousin, Bee, for example, isn't a fighter, but she can talk people into just about anything. Women are warriors, rulers, spiritual advisers, lawyers, and forces to be reckoned with. Also, these women are sexual beings, if they choose to be; the series is very sex positive, without a hint of slut-shaming. If you're tired of epic fantasy where women are marginalized, Elliott's series will be an icy breeze during a fire mage attack.

Of course, the fact that Elliott wrote one of my favorite fictional couples doesn't hurt anything either. Cat and Vai have such powerful chemistry, and so much respect for one another, though it takes time to grow. They fight constantly, even in their most loving of moments, but they do not desire to change one another and they work through their relationship problems together. And, yes, they do have problems, as any couple composed of two such fiery people would.

Kate Elliott's world building also deserves vast praise. She weaves together the mortal world and the spirit world into a visually stunning picture, all set in an alternate history version of our world. My memories of Cold Magic are too fuzzy for me to fully understand where that world diverged with this one, but I know it was cool. The cold and fire mages, the spirit courts, and the dragons are all conceptually fascinating and well-established.

Where the series lags, however, is in the pacing. Throughout Cold Steel especially, I had trouble keeping track of the flow of time. Partly, this is intentional, since time does flow differently in the spirit world, but that's not where the problem really came from. I also feel like the concluding volume packed too much plot into the almost 600 pages, because I feel like characterization was not quite as strong, relying on what came before, rather than further developing the cast. As such, the rampant feels I had in Cold Fire were largely nonexistent. Cold Steel was an uneven read for me, with portions keeping me on the edge of my seat, and others just to be got through for the good stuff.

This first read through did leave some elements to be desired, but I also know that there are things I missed. Though I don't keep too many of my books once I've read them, I'll be keeping this series, and I plan to reread it down the road, hopefully picking up on even more of the positive points than I noticed this time through.
Profile Image for S.B. Wright.
Author 1 book47 followers
July 16, 2013
This is the first Kate Elliot I have read and I sincerely wish that it wasn’t.

For you see, I really love it, the writing and the world building.

It’s that way with reviewing sometimes, you’ll get book two of a series or book three without having had a chance to read the preceding books. I often joke that my super power is reading the last book of a series(without having read the others), most reviewers I don’t think would bother – the dilemma of wanting to give an author a fair go but not having the time to chase down and read the other books.

So yes damn it I took one for the team and am grateful. I’ll track down the preceding titles and read them in my own time.

I think most competent writers today interleave enough back-story in their second and third books for a reader with sufficient imagination to come in cold and pick up the threads and run with it. Elliot seems to have done that exceedingly well here and I would need to have read previous works to pick out the weave, for their were no glaring info dumps – she’s a polished writer no doubt.

As a book it stands well enough on its own, feels very much as though it has definite beginning, middle and end. The resolution was one that I had not expected but fits very well within the themes of the novel.

For those of you not to have had the pleasure of reading Elliot’s other works in the series Cold Steel is set on an alternate earth. The introduction of magic, an ice age and altered landmasses make it fantasy rather than alternate history. If you had told me that it mixed sentient dinosaurs, roman legions, Amazons, magic and the beginnings of a worker’s movement I may have winced.

Elliot has done a splendid job though of making the world and its oddities blend together in a way that causes tired and clichéd topics to pop with freshness.

I can’t fault her on her characterisation either, she presents well rounded “real” women, strong in a variety of ways as you would expect of real women. We have fighting Amazons, Demagogues as well as politically savvy social climbers. The men are an equally well rounded group of individuals. The trolls – sentient Troodons, are a very interesting take with some scientific underpinnings.

I can’t say how Cold Steel compares to the previous books in the series but my enjoyment of it has as stated above has encouraged me to buy the previous books.

This book was provided by the publisher at no cost.

This post first appeared on Adventures of a Bookonaut
Profile Image for Claire.
574 reviews12 followers
July 4, 2013
A fitting and sweeping end to this saga which kept me engrossed to the last page. Kate has also addressed some important, and rarely used, topics such as female friendship, universal civil rights including those of women, the effect of power and hierarchy, and the nature of personal relationship choices, wrapped up in a rollicking fantasy trilogy. I also love the echoes of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars twisted into a world where Britannia never ruled the waves, instead massive migration from Africa changed the status quo and power balance in Europe. The world building is detailed and intricate but never overwhelms the story.

Cat and Bee are wonderful heroines - not feminists as some might abuse the term, but people who happen to be women - and I would recommend this series to anyone who is seeking an insight into the minds of those weird folk who make up 50% of the world. In seeking to make a place for themselves, and deal with relationships on their own terms, the two girls help to effect change in society as a whole.
Profile Image for Beth.
912 reviews102 followers
May 16, 2018
The Spiritwalker Trilogy concludes with Cold Steel. This last volume starts off hectically as Cat rushes to rescue Vai from the clutches of the Master of the Hunt, zipping back and forth between the spirit world and Earth. The middle has the main characters catching up with Camjiata and visiting several mage houses along the way. And the end has a big battle, a confrontation with a fiery foe, and this series' final trip to the spirit world.

The Mansa and Camjiata and Lord Marius, et al., are the main forces determining the sociopolitical landscape of this world. Or are they? There's revolution in the air,

Since each novel of this trilogy isn't its own story, but part of a much longer one, it isn't too surprising that the final volume reflects both this series' strengths and its weaknesses.

There's a huge amount of worldbuilding--most of it excellent--but so much of it is presented in the form of Cat frantically running around that a lot of it mushes together in hindsight. The visits to the mage houses in the middle part of the book are a good example. Did Cat visit two, or three? Whom did she meet where? There are scenes that were evidently intended to get an emotional response, and the effect was diluted when I barely remembered the person Cat was interacting with because I last saw them over a thousand pages ago, or because Cat met them for the first time 75% of the way through the last book.

There's also the almost inevitable thing that happens when a very long story is told entirely in the first person: coincidence. Wherever Cat goes, she'll either overhear a conversation that directly relates to her short- or long-term concerns, or be witness to world-changing event, or come across someone who's connected to herself, her parents, or Vai.

However, her relationships with the characters she's closest to are great. I never thought that I'd say this considering how much I disliked Bee in the first book, but I would have liked to get to know her and Rory better. A year or two passes while Cat is hopping back and forth through the spirit world, and in the meantime her dear Bee has transformed from a pushy brat to a revolutionary orator, and Rory is... well, he's still Rory.

Between the main characters, there are a nice spectrum of sexual attitudes, from a completely monogamous couple to the guy who's up for anything with anyone he's attracted to, as long as it's consensual. No one is judged or shamed.

Earlier in the series (and I alluded to this in my review of the first book) I thought that sometimes its depiction of women felt a little awkward or trying too hard, but by the third book I was totally on board. Men have the worldly power in this book, there's no doubt of that. But Bee, and especially Cat, are never subservient to them, either in the narrative's view or their own. They will do their level best to get out from under powerful men's thumbs, and Cat, bravely--if somewhat recklessly--frees herself from a couple of men who would tie her down either through familial connection or through fear. Cat also befriends other women from all walks of life, keenly feels the injustices patriarchal societies inflict on them, and joins the revolutionary cause for everyone's equality.

Cat and Vai are true partners. They respect and love each other, and there's no sense that one's will overrides the other's. Their cooing gets a little overbearing sometimes, but maybe that's just me. ;)

In the end there's a sense of continuity, that the world will keep on changing, and that Cat and co. will have more adventures well after the last page. Far from being dissatisfying, the conclusion both completes all of the story's major plot arcs (including where the salt plague came from!) and leaves the future, and much of the rest of the world, open to the imagination.

While the execution of this series was irritatingly choppy at times, the underlying ethos was great, and it was fun to hang out in this fascinating world with Cat and friends. I look forward to reading more of Elliott's books.
Profile Image for thefourthvine.
520 reviews199 followers
June 28, 2019
At one point while reading this, I got to a major plot development and thought, “Oh, good! I must be nearly at the end!” Then I glanced at the progress indicator and discovered I was at 35%. That is ... not a great sign, honestly.

This book was just — it needed to be edited so very badly. The pacing was so off that the plot limped slowly along, occasionally tripping and falling into bed with Catherine and Vai for an interminable few pages. (By the way, you absolutely have to be 100% into the Cat/Vai romance to read this book. I am 0% into it. It was a problem.) Just cutting out half of the words about Vai’s dash jackets would have saved quite a lot of space; in the course of this series, I read the phrase “dash jacket” so much that it went from neutral to annoying to meangingless to hysterical and then into absolutely infuriating. It will be quite some time before I can calmly and willingly read descriptions of menswear again.

But there are some good points. Someone seems to have explained to Elliott that removing the indigenous peoples of North America and replacing them with intelligence dinosaurs is a Bad Thing; after telling us there were no humans in North America before the colonists arrived in book one, in this book she makes multiple references to the Comanche nation. Also, she discovered queerness. In book one, everyone is so heterosexual it hurts, but by book three she’s got multiple queer characters and a general acknowledgement that queer people exist. I liked that.

I also enjoyed the story of the revolution, even if that arc never truly got finished, instead getting swamped in the more personal details. And it was nice to read a book focused on getting people free.

But overall, this was more of a struggle than a pleasure to read, and I am glad to be done at long last.

Profile Image for Malischa Weijkamp.
1,088 reviews24 followers
February 18, 2020
Viel tegen na deel 2 gelezen te hebben. Zo jammer. Een beetje een spijt momentje dat ik ze gekocht heb
Profile Image for Lark.
482 reviews15 followers
January 20, 2016
Third installment of Spiritwalker trilogy. We continue following Cat around in her adventures.

The charm has worn off. This book is just wandering around with absolutely no direction. There is no point to any of the plot lines or the characters.

"That's Bee's sketchbook!" I exclaimed. "The one you stole from her!
Are you freaking serious?! I literally said that in the last book that Bee's sketchbook needed to be hidden better. And it happens AGAIN in this book at least three times. This plot line has been so overused that I just want to chuck the sketchbook at someone's head.

There is absolutely no point to Rory. Sure, he's a hot piece of tiger-man, but what does he actually add to the book? ..... I can literally think of no reason why he needs to be in the book.

In the end, this book reveals itself as a travel log with no cohesive story and I just wanted it to end. We go around in circles. Bee gets captured, Cat goes saves her, they hug and leave each other, Bee or Andovei gets captured, Cat goes on another saving mission, Cat gets trapped somewhere, Andovei tries to save her, etc. We travel from city to country to other country and nothing freaking ever gets done. So over it.

A summary of this series's good and bad points:

- i like the representation of women in this book. I love how Bee and Cat are such strong women who challenge the status quo of women submissively marrying a husband and that's it. I love their friendship. It is so rare to see that level of sisterhood and love between two women without jealousy. It's great.

- I liked Cat and Vai's romance. It was slow and even thought "technically" it counted as insta love for Vai, this really might be one of the first few books where I believed a love that arises from a villain kidnapping and marrying the protagonist. The progression from hate to love was very fluid.

- There is really no cohesive plot. It is like a travel log where we just follow Cat around. It's weird how often she has to keep "saving" Bee and Vai. And then they part ways, and they have to desperately try to meet up again. It's just so weird. Sometimes they go to different worlds and factions and there's a mini-subplot there too. And then it's over and we never really care about that place anymore. I don't really get how Bee and Cat can go between all factions so easily. I honestly think the book should be split into little series, like a penny dreadful - there are so many minor arcs. As one big book, it feels unresolved with very little cohesion. It feels like a tiny little stories stuck together.

- I really don't like the long speeches anyone makes about philosophy. It feels overly dramatic and not believable. It becomes more like a Greek play. Grand declarations of women not being brood mares or not quietly being a slave rings false somehow. I am not sure if it's the words or the context. But it does not feel "real".

- I just didn't care after a while. It got to the point where I didn't see Cat's goal. Why is there 200 more pages? You've rescued Bee three or four times from random things, you've gotten out of the four different captured plots, you found Val, you go in between the radicals, Camiyhata, the prince without much problem, you've been in and out of the spirit world. Okay. So what? There is no "rising action". It's just random scenes. There is no climax. It's all pointless.

- And what is the entire point of Rory? I just feel like a lot of this book felt very plotless and many characters felt pointless. Like I said, travel log - where you randomly encounter people and places without much of a storyline.

In conclusion: It is so unfortunate that I have to give this series 2 stars, but it really doesn't deserve any more stars. It as just okay. There are a lot of good points, and just as many bad points. 1.5 stars rounded up. Weak conclusion. Weak climax. This book would probably do better as a web series or a collection of little stories. As a book, it is horribly not cohesive.
Profile Image for Greta.
107 reviews31 followers
June 21, 2014
The history of the world begins in ice, and it will end in ice.


I mean, it doesn't discriminate:
"Perhaps you are of the Sapphic persuasion, in which case I can let you know which women of the House may be interested in your attentions"

aka, you into women? cool.

"Some people have no interest in sexual liaisons, nor is there any reason they should."

aka, you aren't into doing the do with men, women, alien, or kpop idol? cool.

It has an awesome take on dragons(?)/ leviathans:
"How do they know whether to be male or female?" I asked.
His smile reproved me. "It is not the same for us as with humankind. When we hatch in the spirit world and swim in the Great Smoke, we are grubs, neither male nor female. When we come ashore in the mortal world, we become male."

"We are not like you. The strongest male proves he has strength and therefore the right to crown. To crown means to become female. Thus will he enter the river and become she, and thus she will cross by water into the ocean of dreams, what you call the Great Smoke."

And possible allegories:
As for what exists in the spirit world beyond our ken, courts and dragons are just names we give to powers we don not comprehend and cannot escape.

By drinking the blood of mortals they had in the end become what we called ghouls: creatures who devour the essence of others in order to live.

Profile Image for Tina.
25 reviews
July 10, 2013
I'm not gonna lie, the writing in the last two books of this series left something to be desired for me. The world-building was absolutely fantastically done, as was the depth and scope of the characters, and the plot. But the writing? It bored me sometimes. It seemed stilted and uninspired. In this last instalment (particularly the last 100 pages or so), however, I have nothing at all to complain about.

The story was gripping and touching. I was attached to every character, even ones that I had vehemently hated at the beginning of the series! I especially approve of the author's socialist tendencies making themselves very clear in the text. The writing style, finally, was gorgeous; even, at times, poetic. As the ending to the series, I had a brilliant moment of catharsis, and I finished the last page with a huge smile on my face.

I think the thing that is really amazing about this series is the depth of the world building. When creating alternate worlds, authors tend to fall in this rut (especially in science fiction) of treating an entire planet like one country, or even one city. There is the assumption that there is one encompassing culture, ethnicity, and ruling class. In the world that Elliot has created, however, the distinct cultures of several countries and the politics thereof are carefully and lovingly crafted. The mythos of the cultures are varied, but like in real life, have thread of detail connecting them. Most importantly, there are people of diverse races, sexualities, social classes, and ability represented. For this alone, I rate this book among my favourites.
Profile Image for Liviu.
2,251 reviews630 followers
July 23, 2014
I finished Cold Steel by Kate Elliott the last book of her Spiritwalker trilogy after Cold Magic and Cold fire (tbp end June) and I am a little mixed - still loved the writing a lot as the first person narration of Cat continues to be superb but the content was a combination of way too much (over the top with heroine surviving and outsmarting or outright defeating almost everyone from humans to supernatural beings) action and nothing really new as pretty much everything in the book is stuff that appeared in volumes 1 and 2 - volume 1 introduced the world and offered a great storyline, volume 2 expanded the world and added complexity and new characters but this volume which is quite long at ~600 pages just moves everywhere, ticking almost every little check-box from volumes 1 and 2

There were passages I really enjoyed and the ending is great, but also passages that just begged for fast reading as they were (almost, as Cat is still generally entertaining even when engaged with one hand fighting a mage, second hand fighting the soldiers and her brain fighting the supernatural beings, so to speak...) tedious; also the secondary characters seemed less interesting this time around with Beatrice close to a parody and Vai much better in strongly attracted/wooing mode than in husband mode, though Camjiata and Cat's sire stole the spotlight every time they appeared...

Overall another example of how hard is it to write series ending volumes that are more than check-boxes of what came before and actually bring unpredictable stuff to the table.

Profile Image for ♥ Unaeve ♥ .
220 reviews40 followers
August 24, 2013
This Book was send to me as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a review.I was asked not to post the review until closer to publishing.
Besides here on Goodreads ,the review will appear on Amazon,Facebook,Twitter and my blog : Una Dressed in Books

I will just say that i liked the book very much,everything else..soon to come ;)


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 :)

There are a lot of great reviews out there so i wont write just an other one as you can Google them, but i will recommend this trilogy wholeheartedly to everyone who likes to read a quality fantasy book, with an amazingly built world,deep characters, action packed adventure, warm love story, very original magic - it just has everything a fantasy lovers heart would wish for!

Profile Image for eilasoles.
178 reviews5 followers
May 25, 2015

This book really needed an editor. Desperately. I'm still unsure if the author really thinks 'romantical' is a word or simply intended it as a part of her invented lingo in the invented world. The writing is just awful. Besides the obvious incorrect usages, it's imprecise, repetitive, and drowning in horribly cliched phrases and metaphors. English can't be Kate Elliot's second or even third language. Cold Steel could have been trimmed to about half its length. It's full of details and scenes that add nothing to the plot. The characters are not developed in the least and are left to stagnate in whatever stereotypes the author created for them. By the time I reached the end, the beginning - with Cat having to rescue Andevai from the Master of the Wild Hunt - seemed like another book. How did we get from there to here? That's what I mean by an incoherent plot. On the other hand, Elliott does melodrama and sexual tension very well - I think it was that that carried me right through the end.
Profile Image for Blodeuedd Finland.
3,402 reviews292 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 11, 2015
I tried my best, I really did. I read 100 boring pages that were just plainly confusing. Then I tried to read more, then I tried to skim but I could not even skim! I could not be bothered to read almost 800 pages of this boring boring boring book.

Such a disappointment, I LOVED book 1. Book 2 was not up to standard and this one I could not even finish. It reminded me of her fantasy book I tried to read and could not.

I had to check my review of book 2 and there I mentioned I was confused, but that it got better at the end. Still all I remember from that one is that I did not like it. I guess that last part swayed me.

Profile Image for Ali.
880 reviews8 followers
December 16, 2015
As I said in a review of one of the earlier books in this series, there's a lot of interesting ideas here, but Elliott is just trying to do too much and none of it quite holds together. I also get the impression that she didn't plot the series out well before she started -- things like Cat's father's journals were stressed in earlier books in a way that led the reader to believe that they'd be important later on, but then they were basically dropped by the end of the series. These books strike me as a perfect example of how a good editor can make all the difference, because the ideas here were fantastic, but they needed a guiding hand that just wasn't there.
Profile Image for Sam Worby.
225 reviews13 followers
July 13, 2013
Wonderful! So much to love in this: loyal, loving, reckless Cat - a genuinely strong and really female hero; how Bee's story is equally wonderful but glimpsed in snatches; how fantastically brilliant the world is; how enemies become allies and perspectives shift; and how the whole story comes together so well. I fell in love with Vai. I laughed with Rory. Did I say I adored Cat and Bee? And the politics weren't stupid like in so many fantasylands. I devoured this book. Great, feminist fantasy.
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