Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday #Review - Call of Fire by Beth Cato #Historical #Steampunk @BethCato @HarperVoyagerUS @carolineperny

Series: Blood of Earth # 2
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Genre: Fantasy / Historical

A resourceful young heroine must protect the world from her enemies—and her own power—in this thrilling sequel to the acclaimed Breath of Earth, an imaginative blend of alternative history, fantasy, science, magic, and adventure
When an earthquake devastates San Francisco in an alternate 1906, the influx of geomantic energy nearly consumes Ingrid Carmichael. Bruised but alive, the young geomancer flees the city with her friends, Cy, Lee, and Fenris. She is desperate to escape Ambassador Blum, the cunning and dangerous bureaucrat who wants to use Ingrid’s formidable powers to help the Unified Pacific—the confederation of the United States and Japan—achieve world domination. To stop them, Ingrid must learn more about the god-like magic she inherited from her estranged father—the man who set off the quake that obliterated San Francisco.
When Lee and Fenris are kidnapped in Portland, Ingrid and Cy are forced to ally themselves with another Ambassador from the Unified Pacific: the powerful and mysterious Theodore Roosevelt. But even TR’s influence may not be enough to save them when they reach Seattle, where the magnificent peak of Mount Rainier looms. Discovering more about herself and her abilities, Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to light the long-dormant volcano . . . and a war that will sweep the world.

Call of Fire is the second installment in author Beth Cato's Blood of Earth series. Call of Fire picks up where Breath of Earth left off.  It has been an awful week for protagonist Ingrid Carmichael. As the world's only female Geomancer, she has watched her city of San Francisco be destroyed by a major earthquake. A group of geomancer's she knew well was murdered, and her mentor Sakaguchi was hurt badly and has disappeared. The plus has been that she's found herself on a quest alongside an eclectic and diverse group of friends from Cy Jennings, Fenris Braun, to Lee Fong who is more than who he appears to be.

The story takes place during the week of April 19-26, 1906. After surviving an encounter with her estranged father and escaping San Francisco alive, Ingrid and her friends have chosen to take The Palmetto Bug to what is being called Cascadian America. The area which we now call Portland to Seattle. Ingrid is a curious character who has the ability to pull energy out of the earth to mitigate earthquakes, but she is so much more powerful than other Geomancer's. She can also recognize fantastics, which are beings like sylph's, fairies, and Qilin. The qilin or kirin is a mythical hooved chimerical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures who seems to have an affinity with Lee.

Because of her mixed race features, Ingrid isn't given the same respect as someone who is white. People actually believe that Ingrid is an immigrant who is likely illiterate since only white people have the brains and skills to be a Geomancer. Cato doesn't hesitate to use sexism and racism to tell her story. Something that is actually a breath of fresh air and accurate for this era, especially towards the Chinese and women. Ingrid is trying to remain one step ahead of Ambassador Blum who has her eyes on using Ingrid for her own nefarious goals. 

With help from Cy, a brilliant inventor, and Fenris, a MacGyver like character who can fix nearly anything, the adventure is anything but boring. The twist is that this series is set in an alternative history, steampunk world where the United States and Japan have formed an alliance called United Pacific. Cato has created a world where Japanese airships and technology helped the North win the Civil War. It is a world where Japan is the senior partner in the alliance with the US and has no hesitation in destroying China while showing its muscle.

This is a series that twists historical figures and events with fictional ones. In this story, readers get to finally meet Theodore Roosevelt who is one of the 12 ambassadors of the Unified Pacific. TR is an honest to goodness larger than life character who takes over the story from the moment he arrives. Kind of like the way he lived. He is also one that seems not to want to control Ingrid's every movement even though he clearly understands the power she has at her finger tips. Power that is not something to mess around with.

Just as in her Clockwork series, Cato's characters are a diverse group. Ingrid is a mixed-race young woman who was born on an Indian Reservation, and brought up in a predominately Japanese household. One could say that the author is a social injustice warrior who takes on this countries worse instances of prejudices and brings them to the light of day so that they won't be removed from our history books. The Blood of Earth series has appeals to both historical fiction and alternative history fans. It has a coming of age element that readers of authors like Gail Carriger, Cherie Priest, and Scott Westerfeld seem to enjoy. 

As a 411, Cato is the author of the duology called The Clockwork Dagger, which was nominated for Best First Novel by Locus, and The Clockwork Crown, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Finalist. Her Clockwork Dagger-set novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone was nominated for the Nebula Award. 

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