Title: Iced Forged
Author: Gail Z. Martin
Series: Ascendant Kingdoms, book 1
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
"Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine "Mick" McFadden has spent the last six years in Velant, a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor's mages keep a fragile peace as colonists struggle against a hostile environment. But the supply ships from Dondareth have stopped coming, boding ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists.
Now, McFadden and the people of Velant decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, removed from the devastation of the outside world, but facing a subsistence-level existence, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead.”
Blaine "Mick" McFadden has silently taken his father’s abuse for years; but when his father abuses his younger sister he knows he has to stop the man once and for all.
After killing his father Blaine is stripped from his titles and lands in Dondareth and sent to the penal colony of Velant, in the frozen wastelands of Edgeland. In Velant he leaves his identity behind and assumes the name of Mick.
After years in Velant Blaine (Mick) has earned the right to live as a colonist and with the help of other convicts/colonist he is making a comfortable life in Edgeland; but things start to change slowly in Edgeland. The supply ships from Dondareth stop coming and the magic that helps control the inmates starts to fluctuate.
Dondareth war with another kingdom ends with very serious consequences. Magic is gone and the kingdom of Dondareth is in ruins.
Magic was used for small things like healing, to help grow crops, to give better taste to foods and drinks, to help sail and even to keep buildings standing. People took magic for granted and didn’t know how an important part it played in their daily lives. Now that it’s gone they need to learn to live without magic or do whatever is needed to bring magic back into the world.
A ship with refuges from Dondareth capsizes close to the coast of Edgeland, the only few survivors bring news of the devastation of Dondareth. One of the survivors is Bevir Connor. Connor has important information that could help reinstate the magic, for that he needs Blaine (Mick). Blaine (Mick) is the last surviving heir of The Lords of Blood, a group of men that centuries back brought the magic to the kingdoms. To bring the magic back Blaine (Mick) needs to return to Dondareth.
Blaine (Mick) won’t be alone in his quest; his friends from Edgeland, Connor and some unexpected allies will be with him along the way.
Ice Forged is told by Blaine (Mick) and Connor’s points of view. With Blaine (Mick) we see his life in the Edgeland and some flashes of what he suffered in Velant, including the abuse by mages. We also see he’s a born leader, people trust him because he’s known for his honesty and impartiality. He cares for his friends who he considers to be part of his newfound family.
Through Connor’s eyes we see the situation in Dondareth and the consequences of the war. He’s also the link to strong powers that will help them in their quest to reinstate the magic.
There is an array of secondary characters, all very different but very complementary of each other. They form a strong group forged in hardships and shared experiences.
Ice Forged is a very character driven story with an interesting plot and a generally good pace (with the exception of the last pages where it slows a bit). There are some surprises in the plot and subplots and some unexpected twists. The end is not a proper cliffhanger, but it’s a bit sudden. It left me wanting to see what else Mrs. Martin has in store for Blaine and friends.
Despite its length Ice Forged is a quick read. I attribute this to the engaging characters and highly engrossing story.
Ice Forged was a really nice surprise. I really liked the setting and the originality of the story. It was easy to compare magic to electricity and to think of the consequences if one day it’ll be extinct and let me tell you, it’s a quite scary thought.
Ice Forged was my first book by Gail Z. Martin, but it won’t be my last. I’m looking forward to second book in the series, Reign of Ash, to be release on April 1st.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
Other books in the series
Reign of Ash (April 1st)
Other reviews Goodreads