Call of Fire (Blood of Earth)
by Beth Cato
Cover Artist: Gene Mollica
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Harper Voyager Trade Paperback / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062422118
Date: 15 August 2017 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ingrid Carmichael survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake which was possible because of the death of the San Francisco geomancers who drew power from the tension of the fault lines. The plot to destabilize the fault was led by part of the United Pacific (UP) mysterious council. The alliance between the United States and Japan dominates the Pacific Rim. There are cracks in the alliance which are beginning to show.
Fleeing North to seek help from Teddy Roosevelt; Ingrid, Cy, Lee, and Fenris will come up against another plot. In Seattle, there are tensions between the city and the Chinese population. The timely discovery of gold sets off a gold rush destabilizing the area as people try to get to the fields. This allows for the UP to kill Chinese and kidnap geomancer trainees in the area. The ultimate goal seems to be genocide. The depopulation of the Chinese mainland will greatly advantage the Japanese as they settle the depopulated areas.
There are also signs that the Japanese are planning to break the alliance with the United States once the rest of the world is pacified. A look at the societal structure of the West Coast of the United States shows how the Japanese are dominating the culture. This does not sit well with some in the U.S. such as Roosevelt. But the power imbalance between the two countries is starting to show. The stirring of the Ancients puts much at risk, but also may be the key to Ingrid's survival.
This is the second novel in the Blood of Earth trilogy. Readers should plan to start with Breath of Earth, as the character development and world building are such that the motivations and actions are not easily understood without reading the first novel. The elemental magic in this series allows magic users to draw and store the power caused by geomantic tension and movement. By drawing on the forces, geomancers can prevent the major eruptions and earthquakes which plague the world.
Ingrid continues to learn about her past and her powers. She meets new allies and has to help and be helped by them. Her knowledge of the past is critical to her outreach. But the very old and powerful Kitsune who Ingrid is against has had centuries to develop power and plan for events.
The story revolves around allies, power, and trust. When you lose one, instability and collapse follow. Ingrid needs to carefully maintain her balance. If she uses too much power it weakens her and if she draws too much it will kill her. She needs to learn to allow others to help her.
Another part of the story is Ingrid's history. She is slowly piecing it together, but there is much more to learn about her father, his actions, and the family beyond it. Her family's power is very different from typical magic users. It is both more powerful, but also more dangerous with the potential to cause great destruction by accident.
I enjoyed this novel. Author Cato's poetry background can be seen in the flow of her words. I look forward to the conclusion of this series.