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Cold Fire
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A Novel of the Emelan
Protagonist Daja
Antagonist Bennat Ladradun
Setting Kugisko
Author Tamora Pierce
Cover Artist
Publication information
Release Date 2002
UK Release Date
Series The Circle Opens
Preceded by Street Magic
Followed by Shatterglass

Cold Fire is the third installment inThe Circle Opens, the second quartet set in the Emelanese Universe. The novel centers around Daja Kisubo, who visits northern Namorn with her teacher Frostpine. Daja discovers that the two oldest children of the Bancanor family have ambient magic. As the mage discovering their abilities it is her responsibility to teach them the basics and find appropriate teachers for them. Meanwhile she helps local firefighter Bennat Ladradun in hunting for an arsonist who threatens the city.

Plot summary

Daja Kisubo and her teacher, the Fire Dedicate Frostpine, are visiting the Bancanors in northern Namorn. While staying with them in Kugisko Daja also befriends the two older daughters of the family; twins Niamara and Jorality Bancanor. The younger girls even try to teach Daja how to ice-skate. But not all is well in Kugisko. Although winter has just begun there have been more fires in the city built of wood than there were all summer, which is the normal season for fires. Fortunately the city can rely on Bennat Ladradun, a young man who studied with the famous mage Pawel Godsforge to learn efficient ways to battle the fires, even though he doesn't possess any magical ability. After his return from Godsforge he convinced the city's council to let him train the inhabitants in fighting fires and organizing a fire brigade.

Daja admires Ben's bravery as he enters the burning buildings himself to rescue children that were trapped inside, especially after she learns that he has no magic. Daja help Ben by entering the building to save the blind Gruzha. She explains that she has a better chance of success because of her power and he grasously steps aside. In hopes of helping him further she begins a project of creating fire-resistant gloves from her living metal so his hands and arms would be safe as he pushes burning objects out of his way.

Before she can pursue this project Daja makes a discovery: the Bancanor twins have ambient magic. Daja notices Jory's cooking magic when she witnesses the girl de-clumping a soup magically after Anyussa, the Bancanor's cook scolded her for not paying attention. As it is rare for only one twin to have magic, she knows that Nia also must have some form of magic as well.

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She seeks advice from Frostpine, who has found a project of his own in investigating false coins that have been found in the area. He tells her that it is her obligation as there discoverer to ether teach the girls or find them teachers with similar magic. As she doesn't know which kind of magic Nia has Daja possess she creates a scrying device. It reveals that Nia's magic is with carpentry.

The following days Daja seeks out possible teachers for the twins. in the meantime she begins lessons in meditation. These lessons don't go very well at first; Jory is too fidgety for the usual calm meditation and Nia is too shy for the more demanding meditation staff-fighting technique, which had once helped Daja.

They look for the possible teachers together the next day. Nia decides after their first visit to the carpentry mage, Camoc Oakborn, that she wants to study in his woodshop. There she will learn from one of his journeymen, Arnen. Jory regects all of the cook mages they visit throughout the day. At last she dicides to study with Olennika Potcracker, who once cooked for the Empress and now provides the sick of the poor district hospital with food. Although she is said to take no students the cook mage decides to take Jory as a probation student. Even though both girls have teacher they ether don't have the time or place to teach them meditation. Daja is left with this obligation. After some consideration she decides on holding two separate meditation lessons each day, one for each girl.

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between her new obligations Daja visits Ben Ladradun to talk to him about the gloves and to take his measurements. On these occasions she also meets his less amiable mother, Morrachane Ladradun. Daja soon finds time to work on the gloves once the twins were settled with their teachers. The project takes more time and effort than Daja had thought.

As Daja settles into a routine in Kugisko, teaching Jory in the morning and Nia in the afternoon and working on her own project—Ben's gloves or perhaps even a whole suit made of living metal—more and more fires start. It becomes more obvious that the fires are being set with every new incident. Shortly after Daja presents Ben with the finished gloves a bathhouse burns down. Afterward Heluda Salt calls on Daja and mentions that traces of Daja's magic had been found at the site. A piece of metal shows Daja that Ben was the “fire-bug”. Heluda leaves messages for Ben, who was out of town on business for two weeks, at his home and the gate through which he was bound to come back into Kugisko.

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Ben gets home early and is suspicious of the notes, decides to leave Kugisko. Demented, he sets fire to his own home and kills his mother. Then he sets fire to the hospital where Jory and her teacher work. He is a hero for one last time when he helps to evacuate the nursery and supposedly dyes when the ceiling caves in. Meanwhile Daja and Nia try to save Morrachane and discover that they are to late. As they return home to Bancanor house Nia senses that her twin is in trouble. Daja sees the burning hospital in the mirror she made to scry and immediately leaves to find Ben. She learns of the caved in nursery but isn't fooled. Her bond to the gloves she created with her magic lead her to Ben, who ties to escape through a tunnel. She captures him and hands him over to the city's magistrates.

Ben is sentenced to burn at the stake. It is custom for the sentence to be carried out on the site of his greatest crime, but the people responsible for the hospital wouldn't allow it. So his burning is carried out in the ruins of the bathhouse. Daja vows to witnesses it. But she can't bear seeing his slow death and she calls on her power to make the fire consume him quickly. Frostpine and Potcracker used their powers to join her.

Characters in "Cold Fire"

  • Daja - ambient smith-mage, Frostpine's student, former Trader
  • Frostpine - ambient smith-mage, Fire Dedicate from Winding Circle

Bancanor household

Danish edition

  • Kolborn "Kol" Bancanor - old friend of Frostpine's
  • Matazidah "Matazi" Bancanor - Kol's wife; former lover of Frostpine's
  • Niamara Bancanor - Jory's twin; ambient carpentry mage
  • Jorality Bancanor - Nia's twin; ambient cook mage
  • Peigi Bancanor - younger Bancanor-daughter
  • Eidart Bancanor - youngest Bancanor child and only son
  • Anyussa - cook at Bancanor household
  • Serg - servant in Bancanor household; sleighdriver for Daja and the twins
  • Varesha - Bancanor housekeeper

Other inhabitants of Kugisko

  • Teraud Voskajo - iron smith
  • Nushenya Voskajo - Teraud's wife
  • Camoc Oakborn - ambient carpentry mage with big workshop
  • Arnen - journeyman in Oakborn's workshop
  • Olennika Potcracker - ambient cook mage; former cook of the Empress
  • Heluda Salt - magistrate's mage
  • Bennat Ladradun - firefighter and arsonist
  • Morrachane Ladradun - Ben's mother
  • Gruzha - blind girl; saved by Daja from fire
  • Yulanny - servant in Ladradun household
  • Master Northice - head of Mage's Society
  • Eoban - mage student

Mentioned characters

External links

See also

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