Anywho...Cold Steel is the final installment in Kate Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy, and it's a solid conclusion to the story. I think Elliott did a great job with making the three books feel like one continuous story. Sometimes with trilogies, one or two of the books really stand out from the rest, but all three of these felt pretty seamless to me.
So, SPOILERS AHEAD: a lot happens in these books...a LOT. Especially this last one. We go from Expedition (where Vai has been stolen and Cat is being accused of murder) into the Spirit World, out of the Spirit World, on the run, back into the Spirit World where Cat goes to rescue Vai. There's a lot of running for your life, hiding out, spying...oh yeah, and Bee becomes a leader of the Revolution in Europa. There's a war going on, because Camjiata makes his way back to Europa, and there's a good measure of divided loyalty and learning to communicate. This book is about Bee and Cat...Cat and Vai...Cat and her past...and about being free. There are dragons and angry mages (of both fire and ice varieties) and Amazons and creepy blood sucking spirit creatures and a skull that can talk to you under the right circumstances. I know this is all kind of vague, but seriouisly...a LOT happens in this book. The plot is lightning fast, and a few times I got whiplash as one part ended and we were on the move again. My only tiny quibble is the occasional choppiness of the writing. Elliott has some beautiul descriptions and turns of phrase, and sometimes Cat makes some very thoughtful, poetic, almost philisophical observations....just sometimes they don't flow well.
That said, there are several things I loved about this trilogy (and this book):
1. The worldbuilding. Unique, interesting, and well-thought out
2. The characters. I love them!
3. The relationships. Each relationship evolves and grows over the course of the three books -- Vai and Cat (swoon!), Cat and Bee, Bee and Vai, Rory and Cat, Rory and Vai, Cat and the mansa.
4. The humor and sassiness (which is the best word I could come up with today). There's this sarcastic humor that peeks through in this book that I just love. It especially comes in through the interactions between characters, and it lends another dose of reality. The characters tease each other, but also love each other. The enemies trade witty barbs, and it's all just done very nicely.
Bottom line: thanks for recommending this auhor to me, Heather!