Cold Magic Rothdas book review RSS
2.0 Stars

Get you a guy who looks at you like Andevai does, with arrogance and contempt. Wait, no, don't do that. Jesus that is a terrible idea. Why would you ever do that?

The book starts off reasonably enough. The setting is an alt-history Europe, where one of the key break points is that the Carthaginians defeat the Romans at the battle of Zama leading to an enduring Carthaginian presence on the continent. Later on, other disasters befall the Carthaginians, causing them to become nomads, explorers, sea traders, trusted couriers, investigators, spies, and mercenaries. So far so good! The setting is helped by the author's obvious enthusiasm for her world building. There are numerous and often inelegant info-dumps, but as long as you fundamentally like the setting you can survive a little awkwardness in the story telling. Besides the alt-history, the author also pours in several fantasy elements such as a magic/fairy plane that lies congruent to our own, magic users of elemental and shamanic stripes, a zombie/ghoul plague that led to an African diaspora, and sentient and highly intelligent parrots found living in the Americas. It's a tad too many elements, but again the author is really enthusiastic and so I can roll with this.

Or that at least is what I am thinking for the first 200, 300 pages. There's an adventure about a Carthaginian spy in training, kidnapped from her home/university to marry into one of the powerful and cruel houses of Cold Mages. It's exciting, interesting, and you like the main character and are worried for her. Gradually though, over the course of this story it dawns on me that this isn't so much an adventure as it is a Romance. A terrible, terrible romance. And there's this trope in Romance where at first the two love interests don't get along, there's rivalry, competition, sparks fly, etc. This book though stretches that trope to absurd lengths, and makes the male lead just the worst person in the world. She didn't absolutely have to, but it would have been a perfectly reasonable course of action for the protagonist to kill the male love interest, his family, and the entire organization he worked for. Instead though the book increasingly tries to make the two of them into an item, eventually causing me to lose interest and put the book down at the 80% mark. The author's ideas are bad and she should feel bad for providing models like this for people.