1,908 Pages

Cold Fire
ColdFire us hc
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 in the second quartet set in the Emelanese Universe, The Circle Opens. The novel centers around Daja Kisubo, who visits northern Namorn with her teacher Frostpine. There they stay with friends of his and 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. Simultaneously 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 and smith-mage Frostpine, are visiting old friends of Frostpine's in northern Namorn, the Bancanors. While staying with them in Kugisko Daja also befriends the two older daughters of the family, the 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 it's winter there are more fires in the city built of wood than were in the whole 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 and thus knows efficient ways to battle the fires, even though he doesn't possess any magical ability. After his return from Godsforge he convinded the city's council to let him train the inhabitants in fighting fires and organizing a fire brigade.

Ben doesn't even hesitate to go into a burning building himself to carry children out, who were trapped inside when the fire started, especially after she learns that he has no magic. She once even enters a burning building herself to save the blind Gruzha and to prevent Ben from doing this, because she knows that she has better changes at getting the girl and surviving the attempt. Still Daja is highly impressed by Ben and has the idea that she might make him gloves from her living metal so his hands and arms at least would be save from being burned when he has to move burning things out of his way. Before she can pursue this plans, however, Daja makes a discovery which keeps her busy for the next days: the Bancanor twins have ambient magic. Daja first notices this when she witnesses Jory de-clumping a soup magically after the Bancanor's cook, Anyussa, scolded her for not paying attention. As normally both twins have magic, she knows that Nia, too, must have it.

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When she seeks advice with Frostpine, who is busy himself with investigating false coins which have been found and worry the local magistrate's mages, he tells her that she has to teach the girls until teachers with their kinds of magic are found. As she doesn't know which kind of magic Nia has Daja creates a scrying device. It has the form of a silver mirror and reveals that Nia's magic is with carpentry. The following days Daja seeks out possible teachers for the twins—working from a list their parents provided for Daja—and begins lessons in meditation with them. However, these lessons don't go very well in the beginning, as Jory is too fidgety for the usual calm meditation and Nia is too shy for the more demanding meditation via using a special technique of staff-fighting, which Daja once learned from Dedicate Skyfire. So Daja is glad that she can pass the twins' lessons over to their teachers once they each have chosen one.

Thus they seek the possible teachers out together the next day. Nia already decides after their visit to the first carpentry mage, Camoc Oakborn, that she wants to study in his woodshop, where she will learn from one of his journeymen, Arnen. For once the usually calmer twin is stubborn about it and won't even consider looking at the other possible teachers. That gives Daja and Jory more time to find a teacher for the more demanding girl. When they didn't meet a cook mage that satisfied Jory at the end of the day she suggests that they see Olennika Potcracker, who once cooked for the Empress and now provides the hospital in the poor district of the city with food. She is said to take no students, but as Daja is desperate to find a teacher for Jory she agrees to go and see Olennika. The cook mage actually decides to take Jory as a student, although she has a probation first. But although both girls have teacher by the end of the day none of them can do the needed meditation lessons in their workshops as it is too noisy and there is no place where one could work without disruption. Thus Daja is still left with this obligation and after some consideration she decides upon holding two separate meditation lessons each day, one for each girl.

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While trying to find teachers for the girls she also finds time to visit Ben Ladradun occasionally to talk to him about the gloves that would protect him from fire and later takes his measurements for them. On these occasions she also meets his less amiable mother, Morrachane Ladradun. Daja even finds time to actually make the gloves after the twins are settled with their teachers, although making the gloves takes more time and effort than Daja would have thought. Ben and Daja also suspect that at least one the fires, which have been haunting Kugisko that winter, was set on purpose. The first of the fires was even on Ladradun property, an old warehouse.

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 and perhaps even a whole suit made of living metal—more and more fires start. It gets more obvious that the fires are set with every new incident. After Daja gives Ben the finished gloves a bathhouse burns down. Shortly 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”, which Heluda had already suspected. Heluda leaves messages for Ben, who had announced to be out of town for two weeks to get the last delivery of fur for the year from a near city, at his home and the gate through which he was bound to come back into Kugisko and asks for a work with him upon his return.

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He gets home early and is suspicious of the notes. Thus he decides to leave Kugisko. He sets fire to his own home and kills his mother. Then he commits arson at the hospital where Jory and her teacher work in the kitchen. He shows himself as the hero for one last time, helping to evacuate the nursery and supposedly dying when the ceiling caves in. Meanwhile Daja and Nia try to save Morrachane and discover that they are already to late. Upon their return to Bancanor house Nia senses that her twin is in trouble. Daja sees the burning hospital in the mirror she made to scry for the twin's magics and immediately leaves to find Ben. She learns of the caved in nursery but isn't fooled by Ben. 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. As a custom this should be done on the site of his greatest crime, but the people responsible for the hospital, which is being rebuilt in the same place, wouldn't allow it. Thus his sentence is carried out in the ruins of the bathhouse. Daja also witnesses it. She can't bear seeing his slow death through the flames however. Thus she calls on her power, making the fire consume him quickly. Frostpine and Potcracker used their powers likewise.

Characters in "Cold Fire"

Bancanor household

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Danish edition

Other inhabitants of Kugisko

Mentioned characters

External links

See also

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