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The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman
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The Cold Eye

by Laura Anne Gilman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Devil's West (2)

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763241,449 (3.95)9
"In the anticipated sequel to Silver on the Road, Isobel is riding circuit through the Territory as the Devil's Left Hand. But when she responds to a natural disaster, she learns the limits of her power and the growing danger of something mysterious that is threatening not just her life, but the whole Territory. Isobel is the left hand of the old man of the Territory, the Boss--better known as the Devil. Along with her mentor, Gabriel, she is traveling circuit through Flood to represent the power of the Devil and uphold the agreement he made with the people to protect them. Here in the Territory, magic exists--sometimes wild and perilous. But there is a growing danger in the bones of the land that is killing livestock, threatening souls, and weakening the power of magic. In the next installment of the Devil's West series, Isobel and Gabriel are in over their heads as they find what's happening and try to stop the people behind it before it unravels the Territory"--… (more)

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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
subtle evolution of revelation leaves us increasingly confident that we know more about how this world works but unsure what it is that we know, or what it means. It is to some degree because we learn as the principal learns, but there is some withholding by the author as well. On the whole that keeps the interest in what would otherwise be somewhat dry places. ( )
  jason9292 | Sep 30, 2018 |
(Originally reviewed at thelibraryladies.com.)

After reading and loving “Silver on the Road,” I was excited to pick up this prequel. In the first book we were introduced to the unique, re-imagined West that is ruled by the enigmatic Devil who has sent out 16-year-old Isobel to travel the territory as his own brand of magical justice. In many ways, this book simply doubled-down on the same elements readers were presented with in the first novel, in some ways to its benefit and in others, less so. But ultimately, the “freshness” of the story/world/characters pulled through, leaving me with favorable impression of this second book in the series.

As before, the atmospheric world of the West was one of the biggest appeals with this book. The story starts out with Isobel traveling alone, and through her eyes we once again get to experience this strange, untamed landscape that effortlessly blends the ruthlessness of nature (with some added teeth from the magical elements) alongside the stark beauty of the rolling plains. Of course, there would be no story if something wasn’t amiss, and Isobel’s “sixth sense” leads her down a path of darkness and mystery.

While I enjoyed Isobel’s independent moments in the story, I was also very happy when she was reunited with Gabriel, as their friendship/mentorship was one of my favorite parts of the first book. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book also continued down these relationship paths without any addition of romance. Each respects and admires the other, but, if anything, they read as siblings on the page. It is refreshing to read a story about a 16-year-old female protagonist that proves you can draw an interesting tale and create viable and intriguing relationships without the need to insert romance into the equation. Believe it or not, teenage girls are capable of forming other types of relationships with those around them.

I did have a few frustrations with the story, however. And, like the pros to the tale which all built upon elements I loved from the first book, the negative aspects came from the same quibbles I had with the first as well. Namely, the pacing and the magical system. While the slow and meandering travels allow readers to fully immerse themselves in the world that has been built, it can also deflate the story from the brief action sequences that can be found, leaving readers wondering just how many descriptions of dusty saddles are really necessary. The last third of the book involves some high stakes and challenging moral considerations (of the kind that really make you wonder about the Devil’s thinking in sending out an untrained, teenage girl to deal with the forces at work in the Territory), but it takes a long time to get to this point, and I wish there had been a way to tighten up some of the storytelling of the first two-thirds.

And lastly, the magical system. I love the uniqueness of the magic that is set up in this book, especially that which is connected to the animals (the buffalo’s herd magic, and the speaking snakes). But as far as Isobel’s own particular brand of power, it is just as frustrating as it was in the first book. She does things, but never knows how she is doing what she is doing. And more often than not just lead into an action by an undefined “feeling.” I understand that she is learning what her role is as the Left Hand, but that means she must actually learn. Just discovering that something worked without any explanation or knowledge of how/when/in what circumstance she could hope to repeat the process, at a certain point simply feels like lazy writing. And a bit boring.

But, as I said, at this point in the series, the uniqueness of the world and the appealing nature of Isobel and Gabriel and their friendship is enough to keep me interested. But don’t take my word for it! Check it out for yourself and enter to win a hardcover copy of “The Cold Hand!” ( )
1 vote thelibraryladies | Sep 15, 2017 |
Isobel and her mentor Gideon are traveling the far reaches of the Territory when they come upon a problem that seems too big to solve. Beginning with a buffalo slaughter, then earthquakes, and then an area devoid of animal life, Isobel and Gideon move further and further into the unknown.

Isobel is the Devil's Left Hand. She is responsible for making decisions for the good of the Territory in the areas far from the Devil's home base. It is an awesome responsibility for a girl who is just sixteen and new to the job. What is she to do with an entity raised by magicians and then trapped?

Isobel gets advice, often conflicting advice, from a variety of spirit animals but she is the one who needs to make the final decision. This book is about her struggle to decide what she can do and what she should do. Isobel grows throughout this book as she learns more about herself, her job, and her place in the Territory.

Gideon also learns about himself as he tries to balance his education out in the United States east of the Mississippi and his life as a child of the Territory. Jefferson is president and he has turned his very curious eyes toward the Territory without understanding it at all. Jefferson's efforts, in the person of a Marshall and a scout, are a lot like hitting a hive of angry wasps with a stick.

This is a book about choices, decisions, and trying to do the right thing when you aren't really sure what the right thing is. I loved the setting - the American West - and loved the way Gilman adding the paranormal seamlessly into the rich traditions of the Natives and the settlers.

I can't wait to read more about the Devil's West. ( )
  kmartin802 | Dec 17, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gilman, Laura AnneAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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