Cat must discover the truth about her heritage and her role in the technological revolution that changing the class structure of a world previously dominated by wizards. This story is set in an alternate history where wizards (aka Magisters in the story) are royalty/nobles and have the power to wield cold or fire magic, a power that secures them in positions of power. At the time of the story's setting, a technological revolution threatens this class system. The main character of the story is Cat, who is the orphaned daughter of a famous explorer and an Amazon warrior from Napoleon's army. Cat lives with her Aunt and Uncle who are lesser nobles that deal in the trade of information. The story begins with her and her cousin Bee attending a lecture at a local college where they learn about the physical sciences. Cat has the power to hide and blend in with the surroundings and the quickness and agility of her namesake, a power that she has only told Bee she has.
One day, a stiff and arrogant Magister from Four Moons House which is the ruling Cold Mage House arrives at her Aunt and Uncle's doorstep to collect a promise. Cat unwittingly sacrifices herself for the sake of her cousin Bee and finds herself bound to this Lord in an unbreakable marriage. Before the weight of what has happened sinks in, she is whisked away from her adopted family to the Magister's home. On the way there, the Magister called Andevai accomplishes several missions, one of which is to blow up one of the newest technologies - an airship. This is an unpopular with the locals who suspect Andevai's involvement and try to find him and incarcerate him for his crime all of which make the journey to Andevai's home - Four Moons House - a difficult one. During the journey, Cat is perplexed by her new "husband" and exasperated by his arrogance and pride. During their various altercations with the locals who are after them, Andevai and Cat grow a grudging respect for each other though no love is lost between them.
When Cat arrives at Four Moons House, she undergoes an elaborate ceremony to be accepted as Andevai's wife. The Master of the House, called a Mansa, discovers that Andevai had married the wrong woman (he was supposed to marry Bee). Cat, using her powers, overhears the Mansa ordering Andevai to annul the magically bound marriage by killing Cat. Cat hears that it is of vital importance to Four Moon House that Andevai, the most powerful Cold Mage, marry Bee, who can "walk the dream of dragons", in other words, predict the future. To save her own skin, Cat uses her powers to escape. She gets the help from the Four Moons House Coachman who is a magical being that is connected to the Spirit World - a djeli. The Spirit World is a parallel world where beings with magic exist. They let Cat out through a door in the coach that was previously always locked, and Cat appears in the Spirit World herself where she spends a few heart-racing moments out-running spirit creatures before she emerges back in her own world. Compelled by a calling from their True Master, the djeli are forced to leave Cat in the middle of the woods near the Four Moon House where she must fend for herself.
Cat is picked up by a huntsman, who turns out to be Andevai's brother. The huntsman and his people welcome her into their little village. Cat learns about Andevai's humble origins and how he was made a Lord because the Mansa noticed the potency of his Cold Magic and wanted to control and use him. Andevai has hardly been able to visit his own family since he was "adopted" by the Mansa. Andevai finds Cat here and Cat gets to see a side of Andevai she has never seen before - one that is warm and loving and playful. However, she remembers that Andevai is out to kill her and with the help of Andevai's brother, she escapes her husband again. Her whereabouts, however, are betrayed by Andevai's loyal sister and Andevai soon catches up with Cat. She and Andevai engage in a sword fight in which Andevai, unintentionally, cuts her with his sword. Cat's blood lands at the base of stone which opens up a door to the spiritworld where she falls through.
In the spirit world, Cat is determined to find Bee. She is joined by several large saber-tooth tigers that don't seem to want to do her any harm. Somehow Andevai finds a way to enter the Spirit World and the cats show some strange form of loyalty by attacking him. At the last moment, Cat pleads for them not to kill Andevai. Cat gets away from Andevai and finds a djeli. The two seek refuge on Warded Ground. Warded Ground is ground that is protected from the transformative waves that wrack the Spirit World every time the Dragon turns in its sleep - changing the landscape and the creatures. Andevai soon joins them and he and Cat come to a grudging truce for the moment. After Andevai and Cat sharing a moment of mutual fear and awe at a the tidal waves from the Dragon turning in its sleep, Andevai tells Cat that he will stop chasing her and pretend he couldn't find her. He then goes on his way, leaving Cat with a mixture of feelings for him. Cat finds her way back to her own world and discovers that one of the cats has followed her through and claims he is her brother. Rory turns out to be quite a promiscuous tom cat.
Cat finds herself embroiled in the local politics of the city. The Four Moons House somehow track her down and Andevai, who is pretending to be looking for her, ends up actually finding her again. She is rescued by a Roman Legate that she and Bee knew from the College. Cat and Bee are reunited thanks to this Roman Legate. Bee expresses her profound anger at her parents for betraying the both of them. Cat finds out her Aunt and Uncle have fled. It is revealed that Bee was supposed to be given to the Four Moons House as an exchange to keep the double-dealings/spying of her parents a secret during a time in their world's history when a famous General was warring/leading a revolution against the Princes and Mage Houses.
Bee and Cat find out that the Roman Legate who they thought they could trust is just as willing to use Bee in his own game of politics so Bee and Cat and her brother, Rory, escape. Suddenly all the different parties, the revolutionaries, the Legate and his militia and the Cold Mages are all converging in the very city where Bee and Cat are hiding out. Andevai finds Cat again - he reveals he's able to find her because of their spirit link formed from the marriage ritual. He offers to try to help Cat, but instead he finds himself hunted by the revolutionaries. The three gain help from a bunch of trolls who run a legal office but are radicals operating a more secretive business of information sharing for the revolution. Andevai leaves Bee and Cat, saying he will lead the Mansa on a false trail. Bee and Cat part ways with the trolls as well for fear of putting them in danger. They are eventually hounded by the Mansa again.
The Mansa uses Andevai to relocate Bee and Cat. This time, Andevai must outwardly defy his Master. Andevai and the Mansa engage in a battle of Cold Magic. To save both her cousin and Andevai, Bee courageously and cleverly reveals herself to the Mansa just as the bells toll her birthday and she turns 20, the age where the contract becomes void if unfulfilled. Finding himself in a new situation, the Mansa orders Andevai to bring Bee and Cat back to Four Moons House, instead of killing Cat.
Eventually, Cat and Bee will be reunited with Bee's family and Cat and Andevai will admit that they love each other.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the world-building in this story. It is developed with lots of attention to detail, down to the language, clothing and mannerisms.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is the betrothal ceremony between Andevai and Cat - it is a surreal scene that embodies a major aspect of the world - the joining in both the Spirit World and the "real world".
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Cat was fearless but also not a stereotypical stock warrior-woman type character.