Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cold Magic (Spiritwalker, #1)” as Want to Read:
Cold Magic (Spiritwalker, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cold Magic

(Spiritwalker #1)

by
3.72  ·  Rating details ·  8,566 ratings  ·  1,050 reviews
As they approach adulthood, Cat Barahal and her cousin Bee think they understand the society they live in and their place within it. At a select academy they study new airship technologies and the dawning Industrial Revolution, but magical forces still rule. And the cousins are about to discover the full ruthlessness of this rule.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 2nd 2010 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cold Magic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 too…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,566 ratings  ·  1,050 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Cold Magic (Spiritwalker, #1)
carol.
Dec 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
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?

Ha.


Here, let me save you some time:

Chapter 1 to 6

Cat misses her dead father, so she reads his expedition journals. Cat is cold because they can’t afford heat in the big, drafty house. She is hungry because she missed breakfast. Cat is cold when she runs to school because she forgot her coat, the one in last season’s style. See Cat’s cousin, Bee, and “best friend” pinch her during lectur
...more
oliviasbooks
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
Bradley
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-shelf, 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
...more
Sarah Mac
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 fuck was this? If I had a shelf with that label, I'd put COLD MAGIC on it.

As much as it pains me (& really, it does; I had high expectations for this one), I'm waving the white flag.

Regardless of my issues with the poorly-developed setting & magical WTFery, I've been
...more
Felicia
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Katie
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Rusty's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
Review also available @Scaredy Engines End of Line Library

This was such a richly described complex novel that was about a lot of things I'm interested in e.g. culture, mythology and the what ifs in history. This is not a story to be rushed it has to be savored and analysed to get the full experience.

The novel is set in an alternate early 19th century europa that still has fragments of the ice age and magic and the spirit world are real and well known. After the fall of the Roman empire the regi
...more
Alex Fayle
May 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Krystle
Jun 03, 2010 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
...more
Paradoxical
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Lindsay
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
In an alternate history Europe an orphaned girl struggles for her family against forces that would use them as political and magical pawns.

The world-building here is intricate and rich, with a very geologically different Earth. There still appears to be enough of an ice age that the Mediterranean is small and there's no English Channel and the middle of Europe is still glacier-bound. Also historically, with no Christianity, and an extant Roman Empire that didn't defeat Carthage and didn't collap
...more
Liviu
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
...more
Stjepan Cobets
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of fantasy
Shelves: fantasy
The book "Cold Magic" leads to a parallel world in Europe, in the world ruled by the Cold magic house and many royal houses. This is the dark world in which human life is worth nothing, and all the inhabitants were slaves or Cold magic house or Ruler. The industrial revolution was in its infancy, but Houses of Cold magicians are hardly conducive to the progress and try to prevent any progress. Therefore, the rebellion led by the Roman legate Camjiata, but after a terrible war and the destruction ...more
Robyn
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
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
...more
Renay
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): https://ladybusiness.dreamwidth.org/2...
...more
Ranting Dragon
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: michael
http://www.rantingdragon.com/cold-mag...


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
...more
Nafiza
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Allison
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
YouKneeK
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Several years ago, I read this author’s Crossroads trilogy, beginning with Spirit Gate. My memory of it is really fuzzy, but I remember it as being a fairly complex story, with multiple points-of-view and storylines. I also remember that I really enjoyed it, and I’ve wanted to try some of her other books.

This book was a little different from what I expected based on my fuzzy memory of Crossroads. I enjoyed the story and the characters, but there were some aspects of the writing that seemed amate
...more
Foz Meadows
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
TheBookSmugglers
Mar 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers: http://thebooksmugglers.com/2011/01/b...

Catherine Hassi Barahal (or Cat to all that know her) has always taken pride in her family’s rich history. The Hassi Barahals are a storied Phoenician clan of merchants, spies and traders of information, tracing their roots back to even before the height of Rome’s ambitious empire. When she was six Cat’s father, the scholarly wanderer Daniel Hassi Barahal, and her mother, the Amazonian warrior Tara Bell, perished
...more
Ashley Marie


As with a lot of books where I don't quite "get it" - I feel like I should reread it, but I also don't want to waste my time.

The Good
- The world-building was really cool. I'm always down for alternate histories.
- Cat. Bea. Rory.

The Bad
- Was I supposed to like the husband? What an insufferable ass. And as far as Cat could describe, it seemed the only thing that attracted her was his physical attractiveness, which, no.
- It felt too long and repetitive in spots.

The Weird
- The characters seem to s
...more
Vivian
Aug 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
...more
Sarah
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Hallie
Oct 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Mike
Well. This is an interesting adventure story with a definite YA vibe, but a lot more difficult to read than, say, the Hunger Games or Divergent trilogies. It faces the challenge of being a mash-up of alternate-history (Carthage v. Rome was fought to a draw instead of Carthage's crushing loss) and a period piece (technology is just reaching the industrial age, giving a Napoleanic era feeling with Antebellum America overtones) and, of course, the titular fantasy.
Jumping through scenery in a coach
...more
Meg
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 information...in other words, spies. She’s trained to use a blade an
...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...

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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hammer of God (Godspeaker Trilogy, #3)
  • Realm of Ash (The Books of Ambha, #2)
  • The Riven Kingdom (Godspeaker Trilogy, #2)
  • Empress (Godspeaker Trilogy #1)
  • A Madness of Angels (Matthew Swift, #1)
  • Paladin's Grace
  • The Rising: The Newsflesh Trilogy
  • The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1)
  • The War Priest (Ars Numina, #5)
  • The Physicians of Vilnoc (Penric and Desdemona, #8)
  • The House of Sundering Flames (Dominion of the Fallen #3)
  • Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)
  • Night Shift Dragons (DFZ, #3)
  • Royal Airs (Elemental Blessings, #2)
  • Fray (The Unraveled Kingdom, #2)
  • In Bed with the Earl (Lost Lords of London, #1)
  • The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light and Shadow, #1)
  • Twilight's Herald (Aileen Travers, #5)
See similar books…
2,149 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.



Other books in the series

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

Related Articles

If you've been following Zoraida Córdova's career, you know she is an author on fire. From her  On the Verge  romance series to modern Latinx wit...
30 likes · 11 comments
“I will either find a way, or make one.” 27 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.” 17 likes
More quotes…