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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 visited northern Namorn with her teacher Frostpine. Daja discovered that the two oldest children of the Bancanor family had ambient magic. As the mage discovering their abilities, it was her responsibility to teach them the basics of controlling their power and find appropriate teachers for them. Meanwhile, she helped local firefighter Bennat Ladradun in hunting for an arsonist who threatened the city.

Plot summary

Daja Kisubo and her teacher, the Fire Dedicate Frostpine, were visiting the Bancanors in northern Namorn. While staying with them in Kugisko, Daja also befriended the two older daughters of the family, the twins Niamara and Jorality Bancanor. The younger girls even tried to teach Daja how to ice-skate. But not all is well in Kugisko. Although winter has just begun, there were more fires in the city built of wood than there were all summer, the normal season for fires. Fortunately, the city can rely on Bennat Ladradun, a young man who studied with the famous fire mage Pawel Godsforge to learn efficient ways to battle the fires, even though Bennat himself 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 admired Ben's bravery as he entered the burning buildings himself to rescue children that were trapped inside, especially after she learns that he has no magic. Daja helped Ben by entering a burning building to save the blind Gruzha. She explained that she had a better chance of success because of her power and he graciously stepped aside. In hopes of helping him further, she began a project of creating fire-resistant gloves from her living metal so his hands and arms would be safe as he pushed burning objects out of his way.

Before she could pursue this project, Daja made a discovery: the Bancanor twins had ambient magic. Daja noticed Jory's cooking magic when she witnessed 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 knew that Nia must have some form of magic as well.

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She sought advice from Frostpine, who had found a project of his own in investigating false coins that had been found in the area. He told her that it was her obligation as their discoverer to either teach the girls or find them teachers with similar magic. As she didn't know which kind of magic Nia has, Daja creates a scrying device. It revealed that Nia's magic is with carpentry/wood.

In the following days, Daja sought out possible teachers for the twins and in the meantime she began lessons in meditation. These lessons didn't go very well at first as Jory was too fidgety for the usual calm meditation, and Nia was too shy for the more demanding staff-fighting meditation technique, which had once helped Daja.

They looked for the possible teachers together the next day. Nia decided after their first visit to the carpentry mage, Camoc Oakborn, that she wanted to study in his woodshop. There, she would learn from one of his journeymen, Arnen. Jory rejected all of the cook mages they visited throughout the day. At last she decided to study with Olennika Potcracker, who once cooked for the Empress and now provided the sick of the poor district hospital with food. Although she was said to take no students, the cook mage decided to take Jory as a probation student. Even though both girls had found teachers, they either didnn't have the time or place to teach them meditation and Daja was left with this obligation. After some consideration, she decided on holding two separate meditation lessons each day, one for each girl.

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

As Daja settled 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 became more obvious that the fires were being set with every new incident. Shortly after Daja presented Ben with the finished gloves, a bathhouse burned down. Afterward Heluda Salt called on Daja and mentioned that traces of Daja's magic had been found at the site. A piece of metal from one of the fire sights showed Daja its memories, from which she gathered that Ben was the “fire-bug”. Heluda left 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 got home early and suspicious of the notes, decided to leave Kugisko. Demented, he set fire to his own home while his mother was inside. Then he set fire to the hospital where Jory and her teacher, Olennika worked. He was a hero for one last time when he helped to evacuate the nursery and supposedly died when the ceiling caved in. Meanwhile, Daja and Nia tried to save Morrachane and discovered that they were too late and she was already dead. As they returned home to Bancanor house, Nia sensed that her twin was in trouble. Daja saw the burning hospital in her scrying mirror and immediately left to find Ben. She learned of the caved-in nursery but wasn't fooled. Her bond to the gloves she created with her magic led her to Ben, who tried to escape through a tunnel. She captured him and handed him over to the city's magistrates.

Ben was sentenced to burn at the stake. It was 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 was carried out in the ruins of the bathhouse. Daja vowed to witnesses it but she couldn't bear seeing his slow death, and she called on her power to make the fire consume him quickly. Frostpine and Potcracker joined their powers with hers to burn Ben quickly.

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 Daja saved from a fire
  • Yulanny - servant in Ladradun household
  • Master Northice - head of Mage's Society
  • Eoban - mage student

Mentioned characters

External links

See also