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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 7 September 2010
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - I just didn't love it quite as much as her previous Crossroads or Crown of Stars books. The heroine was a little too much like Liath in some ways, so not quite a 5 * book for me. However, the world building is excellent and fascinating for anyone who enjoys alt history, ice age geography, or the history of place names. I'm from Canterbury which is Cantiacorum here, and it is great fun seeing where other names have been derived from and just which dinosaurs the trolls may have evolved from. The heroines are sparky and carry the story forward, the steam punk elements fit in naturally and Kate's social commentary is thoughtful as always, but not intrusive into the story. Having often wondered if it wouldn't really have been too bad if Napoleon had won at Waterloo, it will be fascinating to see where this story goes. I look forward with interest to the next installment Cold Fire.
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on 21 January 2013
I really tried to like this book despite putting it down a thousand times. I just couldn't get excited enough about the main character, Cat. Her quest seems intriguing but its execution takes too long. In my opinion, Cat is a paper thin heroin and despite worthy challenges placed in her path she shows very little depth in her feelings or thinking. The plot itself is at times confusing and slow paced. This book didn't deliver on my expectations since I expected magic and dragons to play a major part. However, I did enjoy the fantasy world built by Kate Elliot in Cold Magic, especially her focus on cultural complexity of the society.

My preference is for stories with a few key characters as it adds the breath to the tale. I am not going to buy the rest of the Spiritwalker series. Instead, I will reach for a new Gail Z. Martin's book.
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on 14 July 2011
Cold Magic is a gripping, well thought-out fantasy novel with wonderful characters. Certain aspects of the alternative world that the author creates (a 19th century where the ice age never completely ended; the dominant culture is an interesting Afro-Celtic mix; and there are trolls and ghouls and intelligent sabre tooth tigers) made me totally gleeful.

My only minor criticism is that I found the main male character fairly uninteresting, but the POV is not his and there are fairly long sections of the book where he's absent, so I didn't mind that too much.

Can't wait for the next one!
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on 12 June 2011
It took me a few chapters to get completely hooked by this book, but once I did, I LOVED it. It became utterly absorbing, a genuinely addictive read. Even when I wasn't physically reading it, the characters were hanging out in my head, and I was replaying various favorite bits from the sections I'd just read.

It's one of the most unique and well-developed alternate-history fantasy novels I've ever read, with fascinating worldbuilding that's been carefully developed ever since Hannibal won against the Romans (in this version of history). The rhythms of speech and thought are all just a bit different, too, than those I'm used to, with almost the feeling of an epic saga...which perfectly matches the ambiance of the book, which has Celtic bards and trolls and mages all hanging out in this version of 1830s Europe. And I love the way ethnicities have gotten so mingled in this version of history, so that it's completely unremarkable for people of African descent and Greek descent to have intermarried frequently across the generations.

Most of all, though, I really loved the voice of the heroine, Catherine Hassi Barahal, her dynamics within her family, her adventures within the spirit world, and, mmmmm, her romance, which is completely realistic and human and down-to-earth, with a hero who is all too believably flawed, but which ends up with one scene so romantic and perfect, it literally took my breath away as I read. Loved, loved, loved it!

I feel like, objectively, I should give this 4.5 stars because of the fact it took me a couple chapters to get into the novel...but then I loved all the rest of it SO MUCH that it would be absurd not to give this book 5 stars! I cannot wait to read the second book in the trilogy.
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on 1 April 2015
I bought this originally in a budget book shop just for a quick read whilst I was away for the weekend. I am glad I did and now have the Kindle version. It is a twist on steampunk with some intriguing themes and some romance . To me it is very well thought-out and although I found some parts confusing the explanation comes as part of the story rather than in a recap of events by one of the protagonists( as Columbo does to explain how he found the murderer in his films, for example) I also recommend the next two in this series which are Cold Steel and Cold Fire
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on 23 July 2013
This is a badly conceived book, which, nevertheless, is difficult to put down. As the authoress admits in her preface, it is a "mashup" of fantasy cliches. Unfortunately those chosen jar very badly. It was a huge mistake to refer to "the wild hunt" for something which may borrow ideas from the Celtic mythos, but only belongs in a novel set in that mythos. If she had called it something original, it would work MUCH better. Likewise referring to Canaaites and Romans ... no! Just don't do this. If this is supposed to be a parallel world, it isn't going to have those kinds of people in it. Likewise a character named Camjiata ... NO! Sorry, but that says to me "chinese/japanese" name. Everything works best where the naming is (a) original and (b) western fantasy. The swapping between parallel worlds - faerie is plainly intended, but it feels very cardboard - actually does work OK.

The developing romance storyline is OK, but the characterisation is very weak. And the behaviour of other characters makes very little sense, and their motivations switch around madly.

But after all that ... it is still a novel that you will rush through and want more. If only this lady had learned how to construct a believeable world!!
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on 7 October 2011
As an already big fan of Kate Elliott I was delighted by the start to this new series. She has created unusual but believable characters, delivered an unpredictable narrative with enough surprises in it to keep me page-turning, and set both in a world that is both completely different but uncomfortably familiar to our own. What I particularly liked was that this is not a clear cut struggle between good and evil. The "goodies" are not perfect and the "baddies" are not totally corrupt: all shades of grey emerge as the narrative progresses. The reader is left with a desire to find out more. How will the relationships between the characters progress? What cataclysmic events will throw this world into further confusion? Yes, I definitely want to read the next book!
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on 7 April 2016
My type of book exactly! Very well written, and different from the other type of magical fantasy stories I have read before. I am in the middle of the sequel and it is just as captivating as the first. I have since I got the book read it multiple times and it has not yet gotten old. Give it a try, if you enjoyed reading Trudi Canavan Magician's Trilogy.
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on 24 December 2014
Point one, which is the important one that you should attend to: This is an outstanding book - managing to be clever and fun, drawing you into a world of depth and history that is revealed as the story builds up.

We're in a 19th Century Europe where the last ice age persisted, magic works and things are culturally very different. There is radicalism and technological progress in the air, but the ruling princes and cold-mage houses are seeking to maintain the status quo. There is a lot to enjoy about the world-building here, the way that cultures are drawn together to create the setting, the mysterious spirit world that lies in parallel with the mundane one and the dangers and powers of magic.

A great setting would be nothing without interesting characters, and our heroine is both well drawn and credible - she gets herself into trouble and gets out of it, sometimes she gets distracted by handsome men instead of her immediate struggle, in dangerous situations she may be terrified, but she also shows sparks of humour, something that fictional characters in dire straits seldom seem to retain, but real people often do. The characters around her are also intriguing and as a reader our views of them develop as we see more of their actions and understand more of their motivations. By the end certain characters were making me smile just by entering a scene, which is a sure sign that I am entirely engaged with a book

As for the story, it's clever, action-packed and compellingly told, as history and lies are exposed and every question answered raises two more questions that you need to solve even more urgently. Also - and this is important for volumes in a trilogy - it finishes at a satisfying conclusion - there is clearly more story ahead, but this book contained itself well.

So if you like strong stories featuring interesting characters in beautifully realised, culturally diverse and original worlds, this might be the kind of book you enjoy. It's easy to use the term "unputdownable", but this one I read so fast I virtually inhaled it.
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on 24 July 2013
This was the first book I had read by Kate Elliott, and I will certainly be reading more. I like the way the characters developed through the course of the story. The idea was novel, and there was enough description to provide an idea of the world, without having so much it became dull. I really liked the main character and the story was told convincingly from her point of view. There were some interesting unknowns, that hopefully will be tied up in later books.
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