My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ever think about the good press the Romans STILL get, even today? That was the offhand comment that so luckily got me a chance to read an advanced copy of Kate Elliott's fantastic new novel, Cold Magic.
It's 1837 England in an ice-locked world where the Romans were battled to a standstill by the Phoenicians, and over time Europe had dissolved into small principalities. The real power resides in the Cold Mages, the magically gifted descendants of West African refugees and Celtic druids. But the Industrial Revolution is at hand, emphasis on "Revolution."
Catherine and Beatrice, or Cat and Bee, as they call each other, are devoted and inseparable cousins. They are genteel, if somewhat impoverished, young Phoenician ladies attending academy lectures on aerostatics on the all-girls balcony while teasing each other about the cute guy in the main hall. They keep secrets, but never from each other, and they can face anything together. Until Cat is suddenly taken away and finds herself first a prisoner, then a fugitive, in a terrible race to save herself and Bee from factions that are using them as battle pieces in an ugly conflict about to spark.
I love this book. It's about magic, romance, friendship, family, and loyalty, and history turned on it's head. It's about "Lies The Romans Told" and the Napoleon that might have been. I stayed up until 1 am to find out what happens, and now I am going back over alt-history details and looking them up on the web. And checking the map on the front against modern maps thinking "why is it named that ... oh, clever!" It's a great story set in a rich, fascinating world and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it when it hits the bookstore shelves in September.
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