Series: Spiritwalker #3
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Published by Orbit on June 25, 2013
Reviewed by: Julia
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.
If prior books established this intricate, fascinating world, COLD STEEL is all about Cat and Vai living in it. Revolution convulses the land and the politics of their world is as much of a concern as the magic swirling around them. Cat continues to explore her heritage, Vai struggles to find a future, and together they work through obstacles and compromises that may offer hope of happiness.
Even through their struggles, I couldn't help but find my own happiness. Happiness to be back with characters I've grown to love, happiness with Elliott's blend of realism and magic, and happiness with the way all of the carefully constructed pieces of this trilogy come together in a satisfying whole. Elliott doesn't trade in the apocalyptic panacea of the usual Happily Ever Afters, but rather, she creates strong individuals, loyal companions, and a flawed world that offers happy opportunities for both. Cat doesn't bloat with invincible magical powers to find her way in the world, but instead, gets better and better at navigating turbulent waters with the abilities she has. Her relationship with Vai is lovely to watch, a young couple finding their way after the fairytale moment of their marriage. Even better, this is not a relationship growing in a vacuum. Cat watches as Vai relates to her brother, to Bee. Vai starts to understand how he and Cat will fit into a world no longer defined by war or class struggle... as the passion he admires in Cat during their adventures won't fizzle down to a socially correct polish once trouble is past.
One of my favorite aspects of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the way Tolkein seduced me into loving his characters, feeling as if I knew them as my own friends. Until COLD STEEL, I didn't realize Elliott had piece by piece built the same kind of affection and connection. I was gripped to the last page, drinking in every conversation and glance, and the end scene left me with a happy glow that I know my mind's eye can return to again and again. Despite a slow start with the trilogy, and a bit of a slow start to this installment, COLD STEEL is a glorious story in the best tradition of fantasy and adventure. Treat yourself to this immersive, encompassing trilogy.