Book review: Cold Magic by Kate Elliott

    Cold magic, the first entry in a new science fiction series, the Spiritwalker Trilogy, is a sure winner.  Elliott, with inspiration from her teenaged kids, has created what she labels an "Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency novel with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons." Yes, it's a mashup!  And a truly original and imaginative one.  Cold magic is subtitled "when science and magic collide--it is the innocent who will die." I'm not always crazy about alternate history, but this one has some extra attractions.  For one, Elliott has done her homework.  The elements included are authentic and rich in detail--words incorporated from West Africa's Bambara language are accurately used and spelled, clothing and customs are followed and incorporated in believable ways.
     The main characters are a young woman, Catherine, who has been raised Phoenician by her aunt and uncle in a community in what might have been England in an Ice Age northern Europe--a Europe that looks drastically different from today's continent.  She and her best friend/cousin, Beatrice, are approaching their age of majority when a cold mage arrives late one night to claim the eldest daughter of the house in marriage, according to a contract written decades before.  Both Cat's aunt and uncle rush to affirm Cat as the eldest, and Cat is immediately married to the young mage, Andevai. She is bundled into a carriage and rushed off into the nightmare that is Andevai's life.
     At first, their trip reminded me of The taming of the shrew, but this impression fades rapidly as Andevai flees the city with Cat in tow.  She soon sees that he is an arrogant and powerful young mage, but something else is going on.  Andevai has blown up the celebrated airship that had arrived from  in town from Expedition (aka North America), to great fanfare. The cold mage houses do not approve, and Andevai was given the task of destroying this threat to their power.  Why, then, has this strange marriage been included in his visit?  Read and find out! ~Tessa Eger ~T~~~~       ~~~