Kate Elliott – The Spiritwalker Trilogy

Wiebe returns with a short review of the entire Spiritwalker trilogy, which if I had to summarise it is basically: “Mieneke, why haven’t you read this already?”

My wife, the lovely Fantastical Librarian, recommended this series to me after I read The Potion Diaries and a discussion of alternative history and romance in fantasy. Based on that discussion, she posited that The Spiritwalker Trilogy by one of her favourite authors, Kate Elliot, would be right up my alley. The titles of the trilogy are Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel. Picking up these three chihuahua killers of the shelf, I was wondering what in the heck would you need three trade paperbacks and more than 2000 pages for, to write some romance? 

The story started kind of slow, followed by a forced marriage out of nowhere. Here I thought ugh, not this trope. But soon I found out that this was set in a rich historical fantasy world and that the story was set on an epic fantasy scale in this universe, with this romance at its core.

Now the series protagonist through whom the entire story is told, is Cat, a woman far ahead of her time. She is educated, strong-willed and out of place in a patriarchal world. Needless to say this forced marriage business does not go over well with her. And so, not to change herself for the sake of the world, she will just have to change the world to fit her.

Who would have thought that I would be able to draw parallels to 1800s historical events? That the book would give me topics to discuss with my wife, once she has read it [Ed. note: Dude, you have SEEN my to-read-cases. I WANT to read these books, I’m just lagging behind.], such as feminism, patriarchy, colonialism, revolution and more? How do you transition from a victory on the battlefield against autocracy and not end up autocrats yourself? Were we just lucky in the real world? This is just one example and, in my humble opinion, the strength of this series. It can do that and tell a compelling, ostensibly trope-heavy romance. All it requires is a few extra pages. I can highly recommend this series if you are at all interested in history, fantasy, socio-political commentary, feminism or romance. Just watch out if you own small pets.