I was fortunate enough to be at CoKoCon 2018 and had an opportunity to chat with Beth Cato about her writing as well as other things, and she even deemed me worthy to receive an advance copy of her new book “Roar of Sky”. I was humbled and elated. I have been waiting for this book, well since I finished “Call of Fire!” I even burned through virtually everything else she has written, so yes, I was very excited to get this book in my hands, so to speak.
**** Just a word of warning for those who have not read the first two books in the series, this review is filled with spoilers from them. ****
The Breath of Earth series, of which “Roar of Sky” is the third installment, is an alternate historical fiction with a little steampunk and magic thrown in. The first book “Breath of Earth” takes place during the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and takes off from there. Ingrid Carmichael is, to everyone else, a “servant” of the Cordellian Auxiliary of Earth Wardens (geomancers) in San Francisco, but she is also oh so much more, and the Chief Warden of the Auxiliary knows it. Ingrid manifests some incredible powers in an attack on the Auxiliary by protecting herself and Mr. Sakaguchi, the Chief Warden from being crushed to death.
As Mr. Sakaguchi and Ingrid both learn more of what she can do, the Great Earthquake happens, she meets some fascinating folks (Cy, Fenris, Ambassador Blum, Ambassador Teddy Roosevelt to name a few) along the way and even manages to make her way to Seattle aboard an airship powered by kermanite, a mineral that is instrumental to powering (instead of electricity) this world. It also allows Ingrid and those like her to transfer earth power (released by earthquakes and the like), but Ingrid can also draw power from those crystals and use it in magnificent, read magical, ways.
Ingrid, Cy, and Fenris barely escape Seattle with their lives and head for the Vassal State of Hawaii Island in the Palmetto Bug, or Bug for short (their Steampunk airship powered by kermanite), and that is where “Roar of Sky” picks up.
Why Hawaii, you may ask? Well, as it turns out, Ingrid discovers that Pele, the Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes, just might be her grandmother. So she goes to find out if that is true and if she can heal her wounds. Under any other circumstance most every geomancer would have difficulty just being near Hawaii much less walking on the ground. But, Ingrid is a very special kind of geomancer with extraordinary powers due to her relationship with Pele. Obviously there is intrigue and peril on the island, which forces them to leave and go to find Madame Pele at Mauna Loa. Let’s just say they discover something but not what was expected. When they finally do meet Madame Pele Ingrid is a bit disappointed that her legs will never be the same, but she gets some incredible advice from her grandmother that she recalls for the rest of the book. Madame Pele tells her, “Your body will never be as it was, but that does not mean you are not strong.” Those are some words of wisdom for anyone in any situation. (Thank you, Beth)
Ingrid, Cy, and Fenris realize they must stop the Unified Pacific, or rather, Ambassador Blum’s plot to exterminate the Chinese. They head back to the mainland and dock in Los Angeles where they discover that a flu is spreading like wildfire from Atlanta, which just happens to be where the Excalibur, a castle sized airship, was built, launched. and is now headed west. In the meantime, Cy has determined that his sister, who he thought was dead, is alive and was the mastermind behind the Excalibur. Of course, in Los Angeles there is more intrigue and crises (I am trying not to give too many spoilers…). All the while Ingrid is reminded of what Madame Pele said, “Your body will never be as it was, but that does not mean you are not strong.”
Our terrific trio set out for Phoenix, a stop that the Excalibur is making, where they are planning an attempt bring Maggie (Cy’s once dead sister) to their side by appealing to her humanity and then destroy the darned thing.
Again, intrigue and crises in Phoenix, but what’s new? The intrigue and crises really are very compelling and kept me on the edge of my seat, but once again I don’t want to give the story away. They make their way onto Excalibur and discover Ambassador Blum aboard. Oh boy is there intrigue and peril aboard as they go fox hunting. The culmination of these crises is where Ingrid really discovers and accepts what Madame Pele said to her, “Your body will never be as it was, but that does not mean you are not strong.”
As for the end of the book, I will just say that it is a very satisfying end to a whirlwind rollercoaster of a ride these three books have been. I just hope that there are more “side stories” to be written about this fascinating world. I am in love with it, especially with Ingrid in it.
One of the great things about this book and the others in the series is the amount of research Beth has done on every aspect of history, places, and especially the parlance of the time. The use of certain words made you believe in the timeline and as if it were being told from the characters perspective. The bibliography is extensive including personal accounts of visits to some locations. It all adds to why I love this world so much.
I know it may seem like I have given a bunch of spoilers for this book, but if anyone has read the other two books, or any of Beth’s other stories, you know there is oh so much more to experience. This was just a high level overview of the story and if I hadn’t shared some of these things my review would have been, “Ingrid goes on an adventure. The end.”
Go buy this book. Preorder your copy from Amazon via this link
The Poisoned Pen Bookstore
4014 N Goldwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Beth will be at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore on October 21 , 2018 at 2:00 – 3:00 PM for a signing event. If you wish to order a signed copy, you may use this link.
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