As part of my Guest blog series for authors and fellow bloggers I am proud to present another guest blog spot. Beth Cato the author of Breath of Earth has been kind enough to write a guest blog post for MightyThorJRS today. I am very excited and I would like to thank Beth and Harper Voyager for the opportunity to host this Guest Blog. 

 Breath of Earth by Beth Cato is Out TODAY! August 23, 2016

So go get your copy!

Geomancy in Breath of Earth

by Beth Cato

My previous series, The Clockwork Dagger, is known for its emphasis on healing magic. When I set out to create a new steampunk series based on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, I realized that geomancy should be my new focus. I can’t hide the fact that a major earthquake happens in the book, but WHY it happens is very different from our history.

In the world of Breath of Earth, the United States and Japan are allied as the Unified Pacific and angling for world domination as they take over China. One of their major assets is technology: they combine the steampunk-inspired mechanical brilliance of Japan with the mineral and labor resources of America.

I created a new kind of crystal, kermanite, that acts like a battery when it’s filled with earth energy. This is what powers airships, tanks, and even mundane items like flashlights.

Geomancers fill those rocks by acting as conduits during earthquakes. They not only feel the movement of the earth, but they take in the released magical energy like a fever. During a major earthquake, this can sicken or kill a geomancer within minutes. However, if they are in contact with kermanite, the energy will flow through their bodies and into the rock instead. The power will be trapped there until tapped by machinery.

I decided this would be a rare ability, one that manifests in boys about the time baby teeth start to loosen. Yes, boys are–supposedly–the only ones who inherit this power. These children are sent to Earth Warden auxiliaries to be schooled in academics and magic.

I break the “No Girls Allowed” rule of my world on the very first page of the book. My heroine, Ingrid Carmichael, is a woman geomancer stifled in her role as a secretary for the wardens. Not only can she take in earth energy, but she can do so with sensitivity and fortitude beyond any male geomancer.

That’s the great joy of world-building like this: I make the rules, then I shatter them.

In Ingrid’s case, a lot of shattering is bound to happen, too. An attack on the Earth Wardens auxiliary eliminates the buffer that holds back earthquakes in San Francisco. The city is in terrible danger, and tensions rise between the United States, Japan, and Chinese refugees. Ingrid’s geomancy could be San Francisco’s salvation–or the cause of its annihilation.


Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE. Her newest novel is BREATH OF EARTH. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (August 23, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 0062422065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062422064

In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose Earth’s powers to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming the city into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off. . . .

Forced on the run, Ingrid makes some shocking discoveries about herself. Her powerful magic has grown even more fearsome . . . and she may be the fulcrum on which the balance of world power rests.

“The acclaimed Cato creates an alternate early 20th-century San Francisco of stunning detail. Drawing on the power struggles of the refugees and women’s work, this vivid reality will keep readers intrigued to the very end.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Cato, author of the Clockwork Dagger books, begins a new steampunk fantasy series with supernatural creatures, action-packed adventure, mystery, humor, a touch of romance, and more to come.” (Booklist (starred review))

“BREATH OF EARTH is that rare gem, a thought-provoking, imaginative adventure of the highest order, chock full of wonder as well as heart-wrenching what ifs. It’s reminiscent of Jules Verne at his best, with brilliant characters who linger in the mind and heart. Bravo!” (Julie E. Czerneda, author of The Clan Chronicles on BREATH OF EARTH)

“Beth Cato gives steampunk a magical, global twist in an action-packed adventure that keeps the pages turning in anticipation. And if you don’t fall in love with Ingrid Carmichael after reading this, you have no soul.” (Michael J. Martinez, author of MJ-12: Inception and The Daedalus Incident on BREATH OF EARTH)

“Cato cleverly brings her colorful Barbary Coast-era San Francisco to life, highlighting the neglected perspectives of the outsiders and the dispossessed who made up the majority of its populace.” (Publishers Weekly)