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There is an alternate cover edition here. Daja and Frostpine expect to have a peaceful winter's visit with old friends in Kugisko, a port in the vast empire of Namon. But there is no peace when mysterious fires begin to blaze across the vulnerable city. Daja assists Bennat Ladradun, a local firefighter with a tragic past, to fight the flames. The two become fast friends-unt There is an alternate cover edition here. Daja and Frostpine expect to have a peaceful winter's visit with old friends in Kugisko, a port in the vast empire of Namon. But there is no peace when mysterious fires begin to blaze across the vulnerable city. Daja assists Bennat Ladradun, a local firefighter with a tragic past, to fight the flames. The two become fast friends-until they realize the fires have been deliberately set, and their relationship is deeply tested. Daja's magic helps her track down the firestarter, but no magic can protect her or Ben from the effects of madness and betrayal.

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30 review for Cold Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Dudes. This book is MESSED UP. I kind of can’t even believe how disturbing it is. I mean, I’m positive that I’ve read books where more objectively disturbing things have happened, but there’s something about the combination of what happens in this book mixed in with the fact that it takes place in a book aimed at pre-teens, and also, just the way she structures it so that it completely messes with your head . . . Cold Fire is the third book in the second series set in Tamora Pierce’s Emelan world, Dudes. This book is MESSED UP. I kind of can’t even believe how disturbing it is. I mean, I’m positive that I’ve read books where more objectively disturbing things have happened, but there’s something about the combination of what happens in this book mixed in with the fact that it takes place in a book aimed at pre-teens, and also, just the way she structures it so that it completely messes with your head . . . Cold Fire is the third book in the second series set in Tamora Pierce’s Emelan world, featuring ambient mages Sandry, Briar, Tris and Daja. Each book in this series has followed one of the youngins as they travel the world with their mentors and each come across a new student to mentor, and a danger they must overcome. They are sort of formulaic, which is something I’ve struggled with. But at the same time, the last book was so well written, and this one was, too, and the fact it’s NIGHTMARE FUEL sort of sets it apart despite that formula existing. This book belongs to Daja. She and Frostpine are chilling up in the north with his childhood friends, while Daja learns new things and such. It’s their twin daughters she ends up tutoring, but they are barely a focus. Daja strikes up a friendship with local widower Bennat Ladradun that is really the center of the book. He trained with a famous fire mage, and even though he has no magical powers, has made it his mission to practice and teach fire safety to all the villages in the area. He’s seen as something of a local hero, especially since his wife and child died in a fire years before. Their stories intertwine as a series of fires begin devastating the area, which is mostly made up wooden buildings. SPOILERS AHOY: Please turn back now and don’t read the next paragraph if you don’t want to be entirely spoiled while I work out my feelings about this book. (view spoiler)[Daja and Ben hit it off right away when they meet. Daja helps Ben contain a fire and saves some people in the process. He is somewhat in awe of her, and she views him as a hero, and a good man. But almost immediately, Pierce starts slipping warning signs in there about the way Ben’s head works. Things that you could write off as sort of weird, but what are you going to? But then there are just more and more of them, and you can’t deny how creepy the guys is, particularly since we spend time in his head. And then we learn that Ben is the one that’s been setting the fires, ostensibly to give his firefighters something to practice fighting. But really, he’s a burgeoning arsonist/psychopath, and he’s just in denial about his own motives. The reason this is so creepy is that we’re in his head the whole time, and we and he are the ONLY ones who really know what’s going on. Daja and the others have no clue and continue to treat Ben like he’s the first man to ever Hero. It’s entirely devastating when she finally learns the truth. (hide spoiler)] OKAY, SPOILERS GONE. You are safe, chickens. This is a standout book in this series just because it does some things I’ve never seen before in children’s fiction. And maybe it shouldn’t? Nah. Anyway, so creepy. But interesting and engaging. The first book in this series was so ‘meh,’ but books two and three have made up for it. Hopefully Shatterglass (Tris’s book) isn’t as creepy as this one, but just as good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    K

    I love Daja, and I was hoping I'd love this book, but it was almost like Pierce just couldn't be bothered to write something engaging. This book is more about Ben than it is about Daja -- she's strangely absent from her own story, despite the fact that we spend so much time with her. The strong point about Street Magic was the relationship between Briar and Evvy; similarly, the weak point of this book was the lack of relationship between Daja and Jory, or Daja and Nia. None of the ancillary char I love Daja, and I was hoping I'd love this book, but it was almost like Pierce just couldn't be bothered to write something engaging. This book is more about Ben than it is about Daja -- she's strangely absent from her own story, despite the fact that we spend so much time with her. The strong point about Street Magic was the relationship between Briar and Evvy; similarly, the weak point of this book was the lack of relationship between Daja and Jory, or Daja and Nia. None of the ancillary characters in Cold Fire really felt like people. Jory and Nia were thin veneers of personality over cardboard cutouts, and though Olennika and Heluda had the chance to be awesome, they really weren't in the book often enough to be interesting. The plot itself was plodding -- this is the longest of the series thus far (though as I understand Shatterglass is longer) though it's hard to understand why. Right before the very climax of the book we have like, five pages of Daja just traveling and thinking, which totally ruins the pace of the action. I also would love to see Daja get stories that focus more on, you know, smithing, rather than fire. I think part of the strength of Briar and Sandry is their affinity for their crafts. Unfortunately, Daja's storylines always involve her fighting against fires which leaves a lot less room for her actual character to unfold and grow. Overall, Cold Fire really reads like Tamora Pierce just didn't care. The book was awful, and torture to read. Daja's a great character, and she deserves better.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Juushika

    Daja and Frostpine are working in the snowy city of Kugisko when a rash of devastating fires breaks out. The structure of this quartet remains formulaic, but this installment is surprisingly good. The setting, fire against snow in a well-defined woodworked city, is evocative; the plot is simplistic but the characters are not--gracelessly in the antagonist's case, but the supporting cast is strong. The nostalgia is toned down and the themes of maturation are less clear-cut, which gives Daja room Daja and Frostpine are working in the snowy city of Kugisko when a rash of devastating fires breaks out. The structure of this quartet remains formulaic, but this installment is surprisingly good. The setting, fire against snow in a well-defined woodworked city, is evocative; the plot is simplistic but the characters are not--gracelessly in the antagonist's case, but the supporting cast is strong. The nostalgia is toned down and the themes of maturation are less clear-cut, which gives Daja room to shine instead of slotting her into the series's formula. I still don't love this quartet, but this is one of its better installments.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Freya

    review to come :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Davie

    Third in The Circle Opens fantasy series for middle-grade readers and seventh in the Emelan Universe revolving around four magically gifted children. The focus in Cold Fire is on Daja as she travels with Frostpine through the empire of Namorn. They are currently staying in Kugisko on Kadsaep Island. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Emelan books on my website. My Take It begins with a metaphor: Daja learning to skate. A skill that's new to her just as learning meditation Third in The Circle Opens fantasy series for middle-grade readers and seventh in the Emelan Universe revolving around four magically gifted children. The focus in Cold Fire is on Daja as she travels with Frostpine through the empire of Namorn. They are currently staying in Kugisko on Kadsaep Island. If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the Emelan books on my website. My Take It begins with a metaphor: Daja learning to skate. A skill that's new to her just as learning meditation and magic will be new to Nia and Jory. I do enjoy Pierce's writing — I haven't yet read a book of hers that I didn't like. Parents will appreciate the moral lessons that Pierce imparts with a very light hand. Kids will appreciate the fun, fantasy, and adventures. Parents of twins may also find this useful as Nia and Jory may look alike but their temperaments and skills are completely different. Cold Fire involves heroic bad guys as well as good guys and girls. The host family is a treat with Mom and Dad strict yet giving parents. They insist on the children learning, but they are flexible enough to adjust to the potential of their girls. One of the many positives is Daja's wanting to create something new. A firesuit that will help Ben battle the fires that crop up around town and allow him to more easily save people. There is one particular incident with Frostpine that will crack up the kids with its absurdity. Poor Frostpine is so cold in Kugisko, that one day he takes off all his clothes and sits in the fire to warm up. Good thing he's a fire mage!! On the negative side, it can be a hard story with the deaths the arsonist causes, and the death that awaits the guilty party at the end. It doesn't take long to come to the conflict in the story. It is horrible. A firebug who wants praise and goes after it in the most reprehensible way. Glorying in the power of death over life. And Ben's mother is a NIGHTMARE! I reckon even story parents should be licensed before being able to have babies! Her son goes mute and wooden when she's around. The servants wear dull garb, get little to eat, and are whipped much too often. She counts out each grain of food and each splinter of wood. She is a master of insulting through supposed compliments. Cold Fire is a lesson in control, of letting go, of being respectful to others, of acceptance. "That's what Traders do — we find roads, and we follow them. Trader and Bookkeeper keep your balances high and your debts low." The Story Ladradun is a true hero in Daja's eyes. Brave enough to run into a burning building with no ability other than courage. It's this intrepid act that inspires Daja to create fire gauntlets and think deep about a firesuit. That's the fun part of their stay. The not-so fun is when Daja discovers two young mages and learns she must teach them how to handle their abilities! It's the price she must pay for being taught her own magic. The bad is a string of fires that plague Kugisko. Someone is setting bigger and bigger fires, and people are dying. The Characters Daja Kisubo is traveling with her mentor, the firemage Frostpine, to learn new techniques — and to take her mind off her friends who are also traveling. Kolborn, a merchant, and Matazi Bancanor, his wife and a former seamstress, are the family who are hosting Daja and Frostpine. Kol is the head of the Kugisko Goldsmiths' Guild which controls the city's banks and one of Frostpine's friends from school. Niamara and Jorality "Jory" are their twelve-year-old twins who have been told they have no magic. Peigi is the eight-year-old. Eidart is a son. Anyussa is the Bancanor cook. Serg is the footman. Bennat Ladradun, a non-mage, is one of the island merchants, of House Ladradun. He learned about fire at Godsforge's knee and, thankfully, has brought firefighting techniques home to the wooden city of Kigusko. Yulanny is one of the Ladradun maids. Kofrinna is the wife who died along with their children. Ravvi Morrachane Ladradun is Ben's mother and a right bitch. Cheap, mean, and nasty whose mere presence causes those around her to become wooden. The Alakut Island brigade does a terrible job. The Mages' Society Heluda Salt is the magistrate's mage. Master Northice is the head of the society and thinks all women are beautiful. Camoc Oakborn is a wood- and carpentry-mage with a prosperous woodworking shop. He's one of those who accepts Daja as a proper mage. Arnen is a senior-mage student. Other carpentry-mages include Ashstaff and Beechbranch. Olennika Potcracker in Blackfly Bog is the best cook-mage (she was once the Empress' personal cook!) and runs a hospital kitchen — Yogiry's Hospital — for the poor. Domanus Moykep is the head of a ship-building family. His youngest son's boys need wives. It's their stable that burns down. Gruzha is a blind girl trapped in a burning boardinghouse. Teraud Voskajo may be an ugly man, but he is also the kindest and the leader of the smith's guild. Nushenya is his wife. Eoban is a very rude guest at a party. Olaksan Jossaryk's house also goes up in flames. Lisl is one of the many children there. Olaksan's wife, Chiora, is Romachko Skuretty's mistress. Romachko Skuretty is the head of the council who turned down a request for funds. Pawel Godsforge is a renowned fire-mage. Ambient magic is a magic that is already in things. Viymese is a Namornese term for a female mage. The First Dedicate of the Fire temple in Winding Circle was once a general named Skyfire. It's his form of meditation that Daja adopts for Jory. Yogiry is a goddess in Namorn; Griantein is a god of warmth and light. Vrohain the Judge is a god of justice. Qunoc is the mother of the earth and its seed while Baion is the god of killing ice. Eilig is the goddess of spring and freedom. The Cover and Title The cover is coolly warm as Daja skates across the gray frozen ice, a fireball in her hand while a fire claims a distant house that night. The title is a blend of the Namornese winter, Daja's gift, and the string of arson fires that beset Kugisko that winter in its Cold Fire.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)

    I used my study hall to finish this rather than my math homework because I have my priorities straight. Those priorities are Daja Kisubo. I think I'm just really enjoying the grounded, sensible magic of this universe being explored as the characters journey out into the world away from their familiar home! Magic Steps wasn't as big of a change because Sandry was close enough to Winding Circle to visit, but Street Magic and Cold Fire both showed us entirely different places and main characters who I used my study hall to finish this rather than my math homework because I have my priorities straight. Those priorities are Daja Kisubo. I think I'm just really enjoying the grounded, sensible magic of this universe being explored as the characters journey out into the world away from their familiar home! Magic Steps wasn't as big of a change because Sandry was close enough to Winding Circle to visit, but Street Magic and Cold Fire both showed us entirely different places and main characters who have to work at adapting to these places. It's interesting, it shows off a lot of untypical fantasy settings, and it makes the series as a whole more varied and fun. And for Cold Fire in particular? I don't know, this was just a great experience. Unlike listening to the others in this series on audiobook over the course of a few weeks, I read this on paper and blew through it. It's full of such great contrasts between warm and cold — both literally, as Daja battles fires in the middle of an icy winter city, and figuratively, as the story bounces between the warm, loving comfort of Daja's host family and her mentor and then to the antagonist's icy lack of compassion (although it's more complicated than that). It goes quick and flows well. Through it all, Daja remains a great protagonist. Sensible, proud, but still a kid, she learns a lesson about trust and where to place it at the same time that she teaches two very different young mages. It's enjoyable seeing the teaching styles each of the circle kids choose as they find their students, and Daja's is particularly fun since she has two. My only regret is that we don't get to see much of the young mages' magics the way we got to see Evy's magic so much in Street Magic. The Emelan universe truly is great.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Hell. Yes. Daja's book in the original Circle books was probably my favorite of the series, and her book in the second series is equally excellent. Just to give you some idea: I started this book when I got on the elliptical, and didn't get off until I was finished. Even for me, reading an entire novel takes awhile, but I was too wrapt to notice the time going by. That's how enthralling this book is. Daja Kisubu and her teacher Frostpine have come to a series of islands to learn more metal magic. Hell. Yes. Daja's book in the original Circle books was probably my favorite of the series, and her book in the second series is equally excellent. Just to give you some idea: I started this book when I got on the elliptical, and didn't get off until I was finished. Even for me, reading an entire novel takes awhile, but I was too wrapt to notice the time going by. That's how enthralling this book is. Daja Kisubu and her teacher Frostpine have come to a series of islands to learn more metal magic. The islands are frozen most of the year, and Frostpine spends most of the book kvetching about the cold (even going so far as to meditate naked in the kitchen hearth fire, much to the kitchen staffs' amazement). Amusingly, it seems he chose his name without realizing quite how cold it gets where frostpines live. Daja is having the time of her life learning to iceskate and make metal filigree. Like the other members of the Circle, she stumbles upon an undiscovered ambient mage--and her equally magical twin sister. Unlike her friends, she manages to find teachers for their cooking and carpentry magic, but still takes on teaching them meditation. Unfortunately, what works for one twin is precisely the wrong method for the other, and vice versa. But Daja grits her teeth and bends to the task--even though it takes her away from her other interest, creating protective metal gloves for the city's head fire-fighter. Her work is particularly important, because an escalating series of fires has begun to strike the islands, and the firefighters and she are called upon to increasing heroics. And wow, but Daja is a heroine for the ages. review tbc

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    UUUGGGHHH SO GOOD!! Warning for ~spoilers~ Despite their being somewhat one-dimensional, having two unapologetic lady villains in the previous two stories was refreshing. BUT it was really amazing for this story to complicate everything with a villain that started pretty morally grey and then descended into scary town, and all from his own POV. It was a good plot choice to let the reader know Ben's motives and processes before Daja did, my heart wrenched for her during every interaction. I also h UUUGGGHHH SO GOOD!! Warning for ~spoilers~ Despite their being somewhat one-dimensional, having two unapologetic lady villains in the previous two stories was refreshing. BUT it was really amazing for this story to complicate everything with a villain that started pretty morally grey and then descended into scary town, and all from his own POV. It was a good plot choice to let the reader know Ben's motives and processes before Daja did, my heart wrenched for her during every interaction. I also have really delighted in the choices made for each of the kids handling their respective antagonists. I was worried that this series was set up for the all the kids to "kill or be killed", but the scenarios have been more complex than that and each one handled deftly in respect to character and situation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Edwards

    We find Daja in Namon - a place so cold that the primary form of travel is ice skating for much of the year. Daja is completely caught up in helping the twins, whose magic she just discovered, to harness and control their powers when house fires begin to mysteriously become more and more frequent. She begins to work closely with local firefighting expert, Bennat Ladradun, to find the fire bug responsible for these heinous acts but will her search lead Daja to something she is not prepared to fac We find Daja in Namon - a place so cold that the primary form of travel is ice skating for much of the year. Daja is completely caught up in helping the twins, whose magic she just discovered, to harness and control their powers when house fires begin to mysteriously become more and more frequent. She begins to work closely with local firefighting expert, Bennat Ladradun, to find the fire bug responsible for these heinous acts but will her search lead Daja to something she is not prepared to face? I have honestly lost count of how many times I've read and reread this series. I keep trying to remember but it's just not happening. I won't lie to you - this one tore me up pretty bad. I hurt so much for Daja every time I read this one and it never gets any better. Wonderfully done, wonderfully heartbreaking. Definitely recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wolf (Alpha)

    I really enjoyed this book. I like how Daja was receiving training on how to ice skate. I thought that is was funny how she would go crashing into the snowbank, and then melt all the snow with her body heat. I like how she realized that Jory and Nia had magic as well. I like how she was able to help the little village with their fire problems. I am glad that in the end they discovered who was setting the fires and that Daja was able to save them. I would rate this book 5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ALEXA

    I adore this series! You can see my series review on the blog.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    You know that Tumblr silliness about someone being a precious cinnamon roll, too good and pure for this world? That's Daja. Oh, Daja, you are wonderful.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bookbuyer

    I hate it when characters you like turn out to be evil. Poor Daja. Ben was her friend! :(

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    In this book we got to see some of Daja's and Frostpine's adventures in a land that seems to be perpetually covered in ice and snow (...and learn that Frostpine really does NOT like the cold, which is rather counter-intuitive to his name. Who knew?) where it's Daja's turn to get a student... or two students rather ;D I really love how in this series we're getting to see so many different types of intuitive magic, and getting to learn about the unique teaching styles of each of our original four In this book we got to see some of Daja's and Frostpine's adventures in a land that seems to be perpetually covered in ice and snow (...and learn that Frostpine really does NOT like the cold, which is rather counter-intuitive to his name. Who knew?) where it's Daja's turn to get a student... or two students rather ;D I really love how in this series we're getting to see so many different types of intuitive magic, and getting to learn about the unique teaching styles of each of our original four (and honestly, being able to be a successful teacher at the age of 14? CONGRATS :|) I felt so sorry for Daja in this book though, with all the fires happening here and her not being able to do much more than react as they were happening, (view spoiler)[while all the while her new friend Ben was the one behind it the entire time and Daja, thinking he was a hero that was out to save people (and not the asshole setting the fires himself), making him "fire-proof" gloves that helped him to carry out his two biggest arson attacks in the entire novel with a rather severe escalation all of a sudden (hide spoiler)] . It would've been nice to be able to learn more about the backgrounds about her new friend and his family, as I did feel there was a bit missing (view spoiler)[it also would've been nice - if probably horrific - to learn exactly how Ben killed his mother because they never explicitly stated and I am very morbidly curious, especially considering most of the other deaths in this novel weren't shied away from... including innocent children/babies being killed when a flaming roof of a HOSPITAL caved in after Ben's final attack (hide spoiler)] . I thought that the defeat of the killer, and their subsequent (view spoiler)[execution (hide spoiler)] was both well thought out and rather perfect for the situation. I was definitely horrified to think that (view spoiler)[firstly, Ben had died before they were able to bring him justice (hide spoiler)] and then find that (view spoiler)[nope, still alive, and he can be tried and then executed through being burned to death on the stake - but in such a way that he would actually be BURNT to death and not die of smoke inhalation like many of his victims did... he would feel ALL the pain... (hide spoiler)] and to have that end with (view spoiler)[Daja in particular making the flames suddenly super strong and hot so that he would essentially be instantly vaporised rather than die a slow death (hide spoiler)] felt very right. They were showing that even at the end they still felt for this guy, and that they were better than he was - even though he probably deserved it, they weren't going to make him go through ALL the pain and suffering he put his victims through. All in all... really SOLID novel and I genuinely really enjoyed it. 4.5 / 5 c:

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lizette Escalante

    i thought "Cold Fire" was excellent of describing the story line and showing the character's personality. The only thing that kind of annoyed me was how much suspense or silence for a period of time.Overall,the book was fantastic.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Daja is the light of my life ok

  17. 5 out of 5

    V

    2.5. This book is not nearly as strong as the first two of the series. I really liked the world presented, and thought a lot of things had potential, but... But I really disliked Pierce's choice to narrate the story from just two perspectives: Daja's and--well, you'll find out--leaving out narration from the young mages Daja discovers. While we've had narration from the "bad guys" before, they were always secondary to the narration of Sandry and Pasco, then Briar and Evvy. In Cold Fire we don't g 2.5. This book is not nearly as strong as the first two of the series. I really liked the world presented, and thought a lot of things had potential, but... But I really disliked Pierce's choice to narrate the story from just two perspectives: Daja's and--well, you'll find out--leaving out narration from the young mages Daja discovers. While we've had narration from the "bad guys" before, they were always secondary to the narration of Sandry and Pasco, then Briar and Evvy. In Cold Fire we don't get narration from the students, Jory and Nia, and the book struggled because of it. Really, the absence of Jory and Nia's narration is symptomatic of a larger problem, which is that Jory and Nia's involvement in the larger plot is minimal, at best. The big plot issue is tracking down an arsonist. Unlike in the other books of the series, Jory and Nia are completely unimportant when it comes to solving the crime. (view spoiler)[Jory's endangerment at the end of the book is thrown in simply to make a connection, however tenuous, between the student storyline and the arsonist storyline. (hide spoiler)] More spoilers... (view spoiler)[Additionally, Frostpine's little story with the fake gold coins seems included just to give him something to do for the whole book as well. (hide spoiler)] The long and short of it is that it's an interesting city Daja and Frostpine find themselves in, but the plot itself is weakly constructed. Too many disparate elements that have nothing to do with each other. I miss the togetherness of the previous books.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leah Markum

    Quick GR Review Cold Fire reads on the slow side. The first half is more character driven, and the plot keeps a low profile until the second half. The second half is great. Daja is a sturdy, considerate character, but is too "normal" for my taste. At least she has her magic and willingness to dive into flames going for her. Some of those scenes are epic. But in between the story lags. The setting is like a winter romance, complete with scenes with hearths, ice skating, and horse sleighs. The char Quick GR Review Cold Fire reads on the slow side. The first half is more character driven, and the plot keeps a low profile until the second half. The second half is great. Daja is a sturdy, considerate character, but is too "normal" for my taste. At least she has her magic and willingness to dive into flames going for her. Some of those scenes are epic. But in between the story lags. The setting is like a winter romance, complete with scenes with hearths, ice skating, and horse sleighs. The characters build a tight-nit community and Christmas-y warmth in their homes. I wish Frostpine, Daja's mentor, was more prominent. Daja and Frostpine stay at the home of one of Frostpine's old friends. Two of the daughters are twins and not much younger than Daja, so they hang out. Daja catches one of them using magic and must teach her meditation to control her magic. Naturally, the twin has magic too, so Daja has two students. In addition to meditation she must find them teachers with the same type of magic. In between this work she designs a pair of fire-proof gloves for a fire-fighting friend. But Kugisko doesn't stay peaceful. An arson is one the loose, and Daja's fire magic is ideal for saving people caught in buildings, for discerning how the fire got started, and who did it. Full Review In Kugisko, people ride sleighs and skate to get around the port of the city's islands. Daja is a fire mage, and stays in Kugisko during a winter riddled with arson. Many characters behave convincingly opposite of who they really are. As befitting a world and plot of oxymorons, Tamora Pierce dubbed this novel "Cold Fire." Early in the winter, Daja and her mentor, Frostpine, take residence with the family of one of Frostpine's old friends. The family has four children, but the oldest twice girls teach Daja how to skate. Before long Daja notices they have magic, and it's her job to teach them meditation and find them instructors with the same kinds of magic. Like the other books in this series, the main character's mentor becomes unavailable. In Frostpine's case, he chases a coin counterfeiter. Before long, Pierce introduces fire. All of the city's buildings are made of wood, besides those belonging to the wealthiest and most politically important. Fire happens. Fire happens less often thanks to a man that trains the city's servants how to fight the flames. Despite their efforts, fire becomes a major problem this winter. Daja seeks to help by crafting fire-resistant gloves for a firefighting friend, and sometimes by getting directly involved herself. My library doesn't have the first three of The Magic Circle series, including Daja's Book, so this was my first look at Daja's character. Quickly I drew connections between her, her mentor Frostpine, and their dynamic to that of Keladry and Raoul from the author's Protector of the Small series. Incidentally, the Protector of the Small was published snugly in the years between the first book Daja appeared in--Sandry's Book--and Cold Fire. It would seem Tamora Pierce took a liking to the steadfast personality type. Also, compared to the other mentors in The Circle Opens series, Frostpine actually gets involved with the plot. Perhaps Pierce can't get enough of him. I don't mind. Cold Fire reads more like book one of the series than books two and four. The story progresses slowly, and dare I say Sandry and Daja are more ordinary in temperament than Briar and Tris. Sandry and Daja also partake in stories that have the mentorship of newly found students and the actual plot on two mostly separate lines. Briar and Tris had students that were more directly involved with the plot, and certainly this showed early on. Maybe it's merely the difference between character-leaning drive versus plot-leaning drive, but I prefer the Briar and Tris books more. The involvement made the stories more intimate and emotionally intense. Daja is dutiful. She does all the practical and honorable things others expect of her and she expects of herself. Usually I like these kinds of characters. Maybe it's because the plot was drawn out and the first half or so was more daily activities--even placing mage students with mages seemed as mundane as taking a real life student to talk to teachers--but Daja seemed boring. At least Keladry, from my comparison to another series, has lofty goals, awkward humor, and had a knack for disrupting routines and perceptions of other. I think Daja was meant to exemplify the ordinary: Trader, works with hammers (what's more ordinary than smithing?), complies with social norms, almost always keeps quiet about her mage license. She dislikes how others treat her due to her age, but her tone sounds cool--not as heated as other Pierce characters. Daja does meet the goal of portraying an ordinary person, just caught in a magical story. What I love about Daja though is, as a firefighter put it, she "firewalks." Often. She gets really confident with it during the course of the story. Somehow Pierce makes every firewalk incredible and not seeming like, "Oh, this type of scene again." There's no monotony. This is a major reason why the second half of the book picks up. That, and midway is when the characters become aware random events are a part of a plot. Essentially, the first half is the character drive and world building, and the second half is the plot. A lot of popular authors do this. I don't particularly care that method--I prefer to meld it all smoothly together--but certainly others love it, or the first Harry Potter wouldn't have done well, or Kristen Britain's fourth and fifth books wouldn't have sold, or, let's face it, the Hunger Games of The Hunger Games didn't start until half way. Given these examples, I'd say stories that need good world building often spend the first half with immersion and diluted plot elements. Overall enjoyable. Kigusko is a unique creation--one, I assume, has a lot of fresh water leave the river into the port and sea, is extremely north, or has brutally cold air and ocean currents to create the reliably frozen canals. Something about winter scenes, Nordic house styles, families by the hearth, and ice skating is homely and peaceful to read about. Daja is like an older sister teaching her younger sisters meditation and helps the neighbors (from fire). Frostpine is like a quirky uncle who favors the oldest sister. The story flows slowly, but has a distinct feel that kept me interested enough to read to the end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Okay. Whoa. This whole series is a lot darker and grittier than the Magic Circle series, but this book takes the cake so far. It's also the first one I've read instead of listening to in a long time, so my interpretation might be somewhat colored by that. It's unusual in fiction, much less J/YA fiction, to be given a character you build trust in only to find that they're monstrous. Pierce doesn't stop there, though - the villain in this book offers point-of-view reflection, and the reader is giv Okay. Whoa. This whole series is a lot darker and grittier than the Magic Circle series, but this book takes the cake so far. It's also the first one I've read instead of listening to in a long time, so my interpretation might be somewhat colored by that. It's unusual in fiction, much less J/YA fiction, to be given a character you build trust in only to find that they're monstrous. Pierce doesn't stop there, though - the villain in this book offers point-of-view reflection, and the reader is given full access to his emotions and motivations. He's made a sympathetic character, even in the unquestionably horrible things he does, in that you understand why (not that you actually support him). Even as an adult reader, I feel weirdly betrayed and unsettled by this; it really is masterful. There are also some great moments in the book - Daja is one of my favorites, and Frostpine is overall amazing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Another wonderful installment in Emelan from Tamora Pierce. It's difficult to say much about this book without going into full spoiler territory, but here she created a villain that made my skin absolutely crawl (this is a compliment! Good villaining!), a world that was thriving with life and coming off the page, wonderful new characters, and managed to keep what is part of the formula of these books ("one of the original kids finds a new person with ambient magic and must train them") feeling e Another wonderful installment in Emelan from Tamora Pierce. It's difficult to say much about this book without going into full spoiler territory, but here she created a villain that made my skin absolutely crawl (this is a compliment! Good villaining!), a world that was thriving with life and coming off the page, wonderful new characters, and managed to keep what is part of the formula of these books ("one of the original kids finds a new person with ambient magic and must train them") feeling entirely fresh. I gave it 4 stars rather than 5 because I didn't really much care for the ending. I mean. It wasn't bad by any stretch, just didn't feel as good as the rest of the book! Anyway, it was great to be back with Daja and Frostpine and the story here is extremely engaging and unexpected. I often did not want to put it down. Great job, once more, to Tamora Pierce. Can't wait to start SHATTERGLASS on Friday! =D

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

    This was my favorite of The Circle Opens series, but it broke out of the mold of the other books a bit. Unlike the others, Daja wasn’t the direct teacher of the girls she discovers, but still practices meditation with them. It was interesting to see how Daja interacted with Bennat and how she had to adapt and decide how she would act in the future. Daja’s challenges are more of the main focus of the book and what her magic. It’s also wonderful to get a little more background Frostpine’s backgrou This was my favorite of The Circle Opens series, but it broke out of the mold of the other books a bit. Unlike the others, Daja wasn’t the direct teacher of the girls she discovers, but still practices meditation with them. It was interesting to see how Daja interacted with Bennat and how she had to adapt and decide how she would act in the future. Daja’s challenges are more of the main focus of the book and what her magic. It’s also wonderful to get a little more background Frostpine’s background. He’s one of my favorite characters as he has great sense of the humor in the world. Warning: Contains some violence. Who should read it? Those looking for a fun magical journey, but it’ll make much more sense if you read The Circle of Magic series first. See all my reviews and more at www.ReadingToDistraction.com or @Read2Distract

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Gallagher

    Another excellent novel by Tamora Pierce! Daja and Frostpine have been travelling around so that Daja can learn from other forges. While in the far north, Daja discovers twins with magic. One has cooking magic while the other has carpentry magic. Though it was a good novel, I didn't like this one as much as I did the first two in the series. The twins kind of blended together and after reading this novel, I have no clue which twin is which. Daja's relationship with Ben was also kind of weird. All Another excellent novel by Tamora Pierce! Daja and Frostpine have been travelling around so that Daja can learn from other forges. While in the far north, Daja discovers twins with magic. One has cooking magic while the other has carpentry magic. Though it was a good novel, I didn't like this one as much as I did the first two in the series. The twins kind of blended together and after reading this novel, I have no clue which twin is which. Daja's relationship with Ben was also kind of weird. All of the facts were there, yet she couldn't see the obvious. My favorite part had to be Frostpine sitting on the fire and freaking everyone out. That entire scene was hilarious.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ☽ ellie ♔ bear ☾

    Interesting culture/world building and concepts, the 'big bad' was very multi-dimensional, especially for a children's book, and super realistic and creepy. The formulaic plot style grates on me by this third book, and sometimes things are just downright repetitive almost down to the exact phrase or sentence appearing copy-pasted. There was too much about the roadways and skating as opposed to actually interesting plot points and character building. Maybe it was just Daja's character I wasn't in Interesting culture/world building and concepts, the 'big bad' was very multi-dimensional, especially for a children's book, and super realistic and creepy. The formulaic plot style grates on me by this third book, and sometimes things are just downright repetitive almost down to the exact phrase or sentence appearing copy-pasted. There was too much about the roadways and skating as opposed to actually interesting plot points and character building. Maybe it was just Daja's character I wasn't interested in, but yeah not as about this one comparatively. Still a strong liberal-leaning fantasy series and very original.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Genevieve

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really liked the worldbuilding of the city (ice-skating on the frozen canals!) and the moral complexity of the story. And I love Daja, in general. I did not like the general skeeviness of Ben's relationship with Daja and the way that that wasn't really dealt with (not sure if that counts as a spoiler, but hiding anyway). I also wanted more development of the twins as characters––it felt like that part of the plot was kind of perfunctory, just thrown in because the framing of the series require I really liked the worldbuilding of the city (ice-skating on the frozen canals!) and the moral complexity of the story. And I love Daja, in general. I did not like the general skeeviness of Ben's relationship with Daja and the way that that wasn't really dealt with (not sure if that counts as a spoiler, but hiding anyway). I also wanted more development of the twins as characters––it felt like that part of the plot was kind of perfunctory, just thrown in because the framing of the series required Daja to have a student.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    I love how dark The Circle Opens is compared to Circle of Magic, and this one has been the best so far. Daja is still my favourite narrator, and I like the worldbuilding Pierce put into the city of Kugisko. It's well thought out and very different from anything we've seen so far in either of Pierce's worlds.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Delaney

    This was a slight change of pace from the previous two mage/student books by Pierce. I liked the deviation, and the villain was really twisted in this one, which was a new change, too. I am looking forward to seeing if all the students stay with their teachers in the later books in the series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    CatBookMom

    Daja does a lot of growing up and becoming much more open to people in this book. It's not hard to spot the bad guy early on, but this is still a very good mystery. Pretty heavy badness for YA.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yve

    The "Circle" books are like the Minor Arcana. More than bold flashy magic, they focus on the magic of everyday life. Ambient mages' power is, in large part, something you can see working in real life! Yeah, there are people walking through giant fires, but she also emphasizes the importance of discipline, craftsmanship, and meditation. That's fantastic for a kids' book because it's something they can practice themselves. As far as kids' books... they're written in an easy-to-understand style, bu The "Circle" books are like the Minor Arcana. More than bold flashy magic, they focus on the magic of everyday life. Ambient mages' power is, in large part, something you can see working in real life! Yeah, there are people walking through giant fires, but she also emphasizes the importance of discipline, craftsmanship, and meditation. That's fantastic for a kids' book because it's something they can practice themselves. As far as kids' books... they're written in an easy-to-understand style, but they're pretty sophisticated and not at all patronizing. They have strong values - the heroes are the people who create and take care of things - but they're not Disney-fied. This second quartet is more mature than the first, and in this one I thought Daja and Ben's relationship was really well-done. Take away the firefighting and this is a problem that every t(w)eenaged girl encounters - the potential misunderstandings about friendship with men, wanting to assume the best of people but also recognizing reality. With this particular quartet Pierce also does a great job of showing the culture in different regions. This one is based strongly on St. Petersburg. I like how straightforward her presentation of these different places is, because it really avoids exoticism in favor of showing how people can live in different parts of a (made-up) world. I am not at all picky about writing style (if it falls on the simple side, that is) and despite the target age group all the essentials are here - the story and the concepts. I'm really enjoying reading these as an adult. Tamora Pierce is a super cool lady.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    There is nothing more terrifying than an arsonist – at least, for someone who is from rural Australia. In Cold Fire, Pierce explores the motivations and the true destruction that such a horrible motivation can wreak upon a small community. Daja’s love of fire is also seriously challenged by the ways in which the destruction of life and property can come about. Actually, her whole outlook on life and the adventures of travel are seriously tested. Add to this the fact that she is forced to take on There is nothing more terrifying than an arsonist – at least, for someone who is from rural Australia. In Cold Fire, Pierce explores the motivations and the true destruction that such a horrible motivation can wreak upon a small community. Daja’s love of fire is also seriously challenged by the ways in which the destruction of life and property can come about. Actually, her whole outlook on life and the adventures of travel are seriously tested. Add to this the fact that she is forced to take on not one, but two fledgling mages. Add to this great storyline the beautiful Namornese setting, and this is a great story that is impossible to put down. Cold Fire is one of the darker stories of Pierce’s collection. Yes, the entire Circle Opens Quartet is a little darker and investigates a seedier side of life, but I find that the betrayal, death and arson of this novel far more intoxicatingly terrifying. Mostly though, it’s the unexpected identity of the bad guy that really hits home. After all, many serial murderers tend to blend in beautifully with the surrounding communities… Nia and Jory’s hidden powers are some of my favourites – after all, the ambient magic of trades are something that I can relate to, and cooking and carpentry are two of my all-time favourite past times. Well, cooking is, but the smell of wood and carpentry is a great way in which to remind me of my childhood…

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carly DaSilva

    Hello, Daja’s book! Some things that stood out to me about this one. 1) Pierce is really great at bringing attention to light/white skin. Oftentimes there’s this absence of skin color that occurs for white characters, which then creates a bizarre contrast when black characters are introduced and their skin is immediately mentioned as a key descriptor. It falls into the whole “default whiteness” issue that arises a LOT in media. That problem doesn’t exist here—Pierce indiscriminately references sk Hello, Daja’s book! Some things that stood out to me about this one. 1) Pierce is really great at bringing attention to light/white skin. Oftentimes there’s this absence of skin color that occurs for white characters, which then creates a bizarre contrast when black characters are introduced and their skin is immediately mentioned as a key descriptor. It falls into the whole “default whiteness” issue that arises a LOT in media. That problem doesn’t exist here—Pierce indiscriminately references skin color, so we clearly see our dark- and light-skinned characters, no default assumed. It’s refreshing! 2) I am again reminded of how dark (yet sanitized?) these books manage to be. The villain of this one is truly terrifying. 3) Sandry’s book really pales in comparison to Briar’s and Daja’s. I’m wondering if Tris’s will top the rest. I do, however, kind of agree with other reviewers concerning the balance between Daja’s story and those of her students. Unlike the other books, in which the student would be something of a secondary protagonist, this book doesn’t focus on the perspectives of Daja’s students at all. They are purely tertiary to her other pursuits. Namorn is a great setting—the concept of the frozen canals connecting all of the islands and serving as highways when frozen is such a treat to imagine. It’s fitting that I’m freezing in the bus’s intense air conditioning as I’m writing this. Like Frostpine, I’m looking forward to a warmer locale.

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