The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman

I have been eagerly awaiting the released of The Cold Eye, by Laura Anne Gilman, since I read the book that opened the series. This novel opens soon after the end of Silver on the Road, with Isobel and Gabriel traveling north across the Territory to find new wrongs to put right. Isobel is still learning the limits of her powers and jurisdiction as the Devil’s Left Hand and The Cold Eye very much focuses on the ruthlessness of frontier justice.

The Cold Eye takes some time to gain traction. To be honest, there were some repetitive passages that I skipped. I know that series are tricky, especially if they’re set in something other than our reality, because readers may have forgotten details from earlier entries. The first half of The Cold Eye is full of reiterations of Isobel’s original oath and titles that were unnecessary. These bogged down the plot while Isobel and Gabriel investigate a curious absence of magic in the northern Territory that seems to be causing earthquakes and depopulation.

Once Isobel and Gabriel figure out what’s going on—dangerous, hubristic magical doings that may be the opening salvo in a land grab by the neighboring United States—The Cold Eye finally starts to pick up. New characters step on to the page and we start to learn more about this strange reality in which the middle part of the North American continent is claimed by the Devil and where people who want to be left to their own devices call home.

What I found most interesting in this novel came in the second half of the book, when Isobel is forced to work in the space between established justice and magical justice. What happens in this book is beyond what anyone has ever had to deal with. There’s a chance that guilty people will escape to cause further harm to the Territory. Because there is no law against what they did, should they be allowed to go free? Can Isobel become an executioner in addition to her usual job of putting the land right? Answering these questions is a vital part of Isobel’s journey; it’s a pity that it took so long to get to them.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 10 January 2017.

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