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Breath of Earth (Blood of Earth #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  563 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
After the Earth’s power is suddenly left unprotected, a young geomancer must rely on her unique magical powers to survive in in this fresh fantasy series from the author of acclaimed The Clockwork Dagger.

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vul
Paperback, 387 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Harper Voyager
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Alethea Nothing more than a comple of kisses and some general desire.

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Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: steam punk fans and fans of eastern cultures
"Breath of Earth" is a magical Steampunk-Avatar story. History, magic, action and steampunk started the engine for this book.
Let’s start from history. There were some important historical persons mentioned, some even played minor roles in the story. I liked the way B. Cato subjugated them and used them for her purposes. Also I adored how she created the old San Francisco using accurate descriptions of some old things, means of transport, historical facts and background. Political intrigues and
Ugh. I was looking forward to reading this. Then I did read this book, and all I can think is I want those hours back.
I loved the cover of the book, and concept sounded interesting and the main character is a mixed race young woman, her mentor is Japanese, her friend is Chinese, there's a transgender man, there's an open-minded young man who helps the main character, there's an interesting earth-based magic, there are magical creatures--all terrific elements--but after about 120 pages I just got
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Steampunk, Alternative History
*Rating* 3.5-4

*My Thoughts*

Breath of Earth is the first installment in author Beth Cato's new series called Breath of Earth. Cato is also the author of the steampunk driven duology known as Clockwork Dagger, as well as several novella's in the same universe. Breath of Earth is a story that takes place between April 15 and April 18, 1906. The last date should be familiar to anyone who has heard about the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that de
The Shayne-Train
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a very fun read.

I guess it's Steampunk. I guess it's Urban Fantasy. Really, though, I'd call it an alt-history-fantasy. Yeah, let's go with that.

The world-building and magic rules are all very well-done, and well-written. The characters are deep, multi-faceted. The setting (1800's San Francisco of the future-y past) is lovingly painted out. And this thing definitely passes both the Bechdel test and the Russo test.

And it says its a #1, which means there are plans for a #2! HUZZAH!
Jan 25, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
That cover is breathtaking!

I'm really looking forward to this one. There seems to be a great new trend underway. Breath of Earth is a historical fantasy novel about a Japanese geomancer in 1906 San Francisco. Molly Tanzer's Vermilion is a historical fantasy novel about a half-Chinese Taoist psychopomp in 1870 San Francisco. M.H. Boroson's The Girl with Ghost Eyes is a historical fantasy novel about a Chinese Daoist priestess in 1898 San Francisco. See a pattern? Ghost Eyes is amazing, Vermilion
Beth Cato introduces a gritty, steampunk-inspired version of 20th century San Francisco in BREATH OF EARTH, the first book in a new series. While I appreciated the diverse cast of characters and creative world building, I thought the primary characters fell flat and felt that the story overall was too unfocused.

Earthquakes and other natural disasters plague 1906 San Francisco, kept at bay only by the efforts of the Geomancer’s Auxiliary. Geomancers use their connection to the earth to channel ma
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beth Cato gives steampunk a magical, global twist in an action-packed adventure that keeps the pages turning in anticipation. And if you don't fall in love with Ingrid Carmichael after reading this, you have no soul. A truly fun ride with a compelling story and characters to root for. Can't wait to see what future installments may hold.
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Alternate history isn’t a genre I read often, but it’s one I do enjoy. In this version of 1906, the United States has adopted many Japanese customs thanks to their alliance. They are currently waging war against China, as the Japanese hope to use the country to ease their own overcrowded land. There are some Chinese immigrants on U.S. land but they’re treated as second-class citizens and the tension between the three groups is reaching a breaking point.

There are also steampunk elements to this s
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I first read Beth Cato's "Clockwork Dagger", which was a fun light steampunk thriller. "Breath of Earth" is different. No lightness here, just the gritty side of steampunk, xenophobia, violence, and earthquake magic.

And it was great.

The worldbuilding was far more complex than I've seen from her before, and a much richer multicultural texture woven throughout. It went into every detail, from the epithets to the clothing. I liked the earthquake magic, both conceptually and visually, and the roma
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book and I'm looking forward to the next one. I love the fusion of magic and tech in utilizing the crystals as a power source. I think the alt-history aspect was done well. The characters were delightful and really had me rooting for their little rag-tag group. Can't wait to see their further adventures.
Monique V
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, fantasy, young-adult
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Here's the thing about Beth Cato's books: there is insta luv romance, they are well written, the 'magic' portions are interesting, historical aspects well researched, there is plenty of action, and the plot is creative. And yet, I've found that for me personally, I never like any of the preachy and uptight characters. They almost veer into the author's idea of a Mary Sue. Certainly, I appreciate that authors put their ow
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review originally published at Vampire Book Club and based on a copy provided by the publisher

Ingrid Carmichael is a geomancer, able to channel energy from the Earth’s seismic activity. She might even be the most powerful geomancer in the world, except that the world believes only men can inherit the ability. So Ingrid works as a secretary for the Council of Wardens, learning their skills while hiding her power. Wardens harness the energy from earthquakes, absorbing it before it can damage the c
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
The premise and outline for the story was fascinating, I always wanted to know what happened next which is sadly the only reason I manged to finish this book. Unfortunately for me the characters felt flat, especially the main character. A big problem for me was that I was repeatedly told how incredibly intelligent she was (especially for a female -_-) and yet based on everything I read in this book I have zero proof that she is anything above dumb, which is truly sad. I don't mind dumb character ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book hasn't been released yet, but when it comes out - you should read it! It's an amazing book, with the setting rooted in historical events, spiced up with some... extra. I'm so excited it will be a series.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didnt-finish
This book just didn't have what it took to keep me reading. The few pages of the book felt awkward. Ingrid, the main character, is upset because she has to wear shoes, which interfere with her geomancer abilities (except that she's so powerful that even with shoes she's still more sensitive than the powerful male wardens who control the earth's magic on the western seaboard of the United States). If she's that powerful, you'd think that typical men from the time of 1906 would either lock her up ...more
Sylvia McIvers
Can a book be YA when the hero is 25? She reads like an older teen.

Ingrid is a special snowflake, the only female who can feel the magic of earth's tremors. She isn't going to storm the castle, um, the academy, to make it a place where women can take part. No, she has super mysterious parentage: Mom is blond, hence the name 'ingrid', and Dad was Polynesian who won't tell who his parents were. (I sense a sequel here, lol) Because of her circumstances, Ingrid has to be a servant, not a scholar, a
Dana Alma
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Breath of Earth is unexpected. Cato has gone about creating a frightening world with Ingrid at the helm of all we perceive. Breath of Earth has so many undertones. It's truly a journey into the unknown. I found myself lost many times and had to find my way back through the story, but with that being said, it was fascinating. Cato created this world rich in culture and magic surrounded by governmental oppression and dangerous fractions. Our perception of Ingrid is unveiled during the entire story ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ingrid Carmichael is a geomancer living in 1906 San Francisco. Because she's a woman, she's relegated to working as the secretary for her mentor, a warden who is one of the geomancers who protects the city from earthquakes. An assassin kills all the wardens save Ingrid and her mentor. Because of their power, they become targets. As Ingrid learns more about her personal past, she learns how the United States is using certain geomancers as part of its bid for world domination.

Nicely done gritty, a
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Extremely good. A very thought-provoking look at race relations in San Francisco, and an interesting period in time. I am from the South Bay, and now live in Hawaii, so this book resonated on multiple levels. I like the way it looked at diversity, sexual agency and gender identity.
Em (2AM Reads)
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
3.5 stars. Amazing world building, annoyingly (fast) pacing on the romance. #TheresAWarOnPeople
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical
The cover caught my eye first. And man, what a pretty cover!

Then I read some good reviews, and I thought to myself that I quite fancied an alternate history / fantasy read. So I went for it.

This story has all the necessary ingredients to produce a plot that I’ll be head-over-heels for. There’s an interesting and well-developed alternate history, enough information is given that at times I had to try to sift through what was fictional and what was based in reality. The magic system was interestin
Fraser Sherman
Oct 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: steampunk, fantasy
In an alt.1906 where the US and Japan are alliea, a black woman whose secretly an earth-mage (women having magic is a big no-no) finds herself caught up in a conspiracy that wipes out San Francisco's other earthmages, leaving the city helpless against the next big quake. The worldbuilding is good, but everything else was just "meh" for me--nothing really sparked my interest, but I think that's more taste than any flaw I can point to.
Jared Adams
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2016
I received an advanced reader copy of this book for the purpose of smugly reading it before everyone else. Which I did, heavy on the smugness.

It is SUCH a good book.

At its most basic level, "Breath of Earth" is a rollicking adventure. There are mysteries to solve and schemes to uncover and bad guys to escape. It's fast paced and hard to put down. Then there is the world that Cato has created, a hopelessly cool blend of steampunk airships, fantastic magic, and fairytale creatures. There is a ch
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really loved Cato’s Clockwork Dagger duology and was very excited to see a new book by her. I absolutely loved this book and was amazed at the depth and creativity in the world created here. This is very much a steampunk alternate history and it was just incredibly engaging and well written. Cato came and commented on my blog and ends up this is the first book in a series, not a standalone. The second book will be titled Call of Fire and is scheduled to be released next summer (2017).

I loved t
Gwendolyn Clare
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you're looking for rich, inventive worldbuilding, look no further. Cato's earthquake-based magic system, called geomancy, made my inner geologist squee with delight. The author seamlessly blends geomancy with steampunk technology and multiculturalism in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.

Unlike much of the adventure fiction set in historical settings, this book doesn't ignore issues racism and sexism, but instead addresses them directly. Cato imagines a completely new global political climate
I quite liked this book. It's an interesting setting - an alternate history where the United States and Japan have formed a united force against China, and Britain is fighting India - right before the big San Francisco earthquake that leveled the city at the turn of the twentieth century. Earthquakes are caused by Hidden Ones - giant fantastical beings that live in fault lines - when they move. Luckily, there are also geomancers who can siphon off the energy released during an earthquake and pre ...more
Aug 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Full review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

Sometimes a book has all my catnip but it doesn’t gel into a cohesive, engaging story. Breath of Earth is one of those books. The language is descriptive, the setting intriguing, and the characters are diverse. Even the cover art is lovely. But I never got a feel for what was happening or why I should care.

The biggest strength of this book is the diversity of the characters, which resonates with both the alternate history of the book and the actual histo
Chris Cutler
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: lib-framingham
I really wanted to love this book, but I didn't. If you like Cato's writing then you will probably enjoy this a ton. Personally, I found that her prose and her heroine made it a two-star reading experience for me. The story and alternate history are good, so it earned back an "average" rating by the end, but I don't think I can bring myself to ready any sequels.

I was super excited when I heard about this book. Alternate history with earth magic and an Asian influence? Exactly my sort of thing. A
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, ebook, for-the-eyes
It started out so well but Ingrid was so horny in inapporpriate situations and also a Speshul Snowflake with ALL the abilities. And the white man had to rescue her all the time.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 26, 2016 07:28AM  
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Beth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She's the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN (an RT Reviewers' Choice Finalist) from Harper Voyager. He
More about Beth Cato

Other books in the series

Blood of Earth (3 books)
  • Call of Fire (Blood of Earth, #2)
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“Ignorance didn’t feel like bliss. It felt like stupidity, and she hated it. “That” 0 likes
“How long have you used geomancy?” The blunt question caused her to recoil slightly. “Almost my whole life. How long have you felt the need to live as a man?” “As long as I can remember.” The pain in his voice didn’t come from the injury. “Look at us with our deep, dark secrets.” 0 likes
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