Review : Ice Forged – Gail Z. Martin
Author Gail Z. Martin
Number of pages 592
Publication date 08 January 2013
Condemned as a murderer for killing the man who dishonored his sister, Blaine McFadden has been banished for years to a penal colony in the frigid northern wastelands of Edgeland. Military discipline and the oppressive magic of the governor’s mages keep a fragile peace, as colonists struggle to survive in the harshest of conditions. But now the supply ships have stopped coming, and this bodes ill for the kingdom that banished the colonists… McFadden and the other exiles must decide their fate. They can remain in their icy prison, or they can return to the ruins of the kingdom that they once called home. Either way, destruction lies ahead…
Ice Forged is Martin’s seventh novel and the first book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. It tells the tales of Blaine McFadden and Bevin Connor, two guys whose lives become intertwined when magic goes terribly wrong and disappears, but not after it alters their world into a post-apocalyptic place. When both men each end up with an ancient map, they set out to restore the magic to the world, much to the displeasure of some very powerful adversaries.
Ice Forged starts out as an intimate tale of two men who are each living in very different circumstances, are happy with their lives, but do have their secrets and regrets. While Blaine’s part is a little more interesting than Connor’s, it is the wonderfully written sense of impending doom that flows through Connor’s tale that makes the first part of Ice Forged very interesting.
There’s no all-powerful evil adversary in the beginning, and when that impending doom I talked about erupts in a disaster of apocalyptic dimensions, shows Ice Forged us that mankind is perfectly capable to f*#! things up on their own.
From that point on takes the story a darker and more epic feel and we get a classic party of protagonists on a quest to restore things before their world descends in a dark and futureless place. Ice Forged’s party of protagonists consists of classic RPG characters, like a few fighters, a thief, a tinkerer and an assassin/spy. Martin puts these characters to the pages with a superb flair for storytelling and so are these protagonists becoming quite original and definitely no standard fantasy characters.
Gail Martin’s writing style is very good and she knows how to put a truly entertaining story on the pages. One of the most remarkable features of her style in Ice Forged is her clever use of foresight. Small tidbits of information, that at first seem to have nothing to do with the plot, will become important later on in the book. A perfect example of this is Blaine’s wet cloak (if you read this book, you’ll know what I mean).
The most interesting part of this story is the fact that Blaine and Connor do have a choice about what to do. There isn’t a prophecy or some ancient text that says that they should save the world, although does Blaine, because of his bloodline, have fewer options than Connor. Martin gives her characters the opportunity to, by their own choice, do what is morally right or step aside and let things take care of their own. Of course do they choose to try to bring back the magic and restore peace. Otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story, right? But my point is that it is interesting to see that the main characters do have a choice and the way Martin describes their doubts and decisions is very well written.
The world of Donderath and the other three great kingdoms is well developed, but left me a little bit unsatisfied. I wouldn’t have mind to read a bit more about the pre-apocalyptic world. Especially Edgeland is a very interesting place and I wish we could have spent more time there. I would love to read a prequel about Blaine’s first years in the mines and the colony. I loved being in Edgeland (probably wouldn’t say that if I was there for real, but you know what I mean) and found it very enjoyable chapters.
The world after the Great Fire, as the apocalyptic event is known, is very different. It is a barbaric wasteland where bandits and highwaymen are roaming the countryside and big cities are in ruin and isn’t that original. Throughout the story we see glimpses of how the world looked like before the catastrophe, but I still think that the worldbuilding isn’t of the same high level as the characterbuilding. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great world, but I like to see some more details in the next book. But for a first book and a first glimpse of a new world, it will do for now.
Ice Forged is a very interesting start of a new series with interesting characters and a world with potential. The storyline isn’t, like most fantasy nowadays, a rollercoaster experience, but a slowly developing tale about two guys who are doing everything in their power to make things right. The best part of this tale is the feeling that Martin gave me. A feeling that there’s something big coming up and she puts that feeling on the pages with a flair that makes me really look forward to Reign of Ash, the second book in this series.
Ice Forged is a great first book in a series that could easily grow into one of the better fantasy series of the next decade. It definitely makes me want to check out Martin’s other books and I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you if you like fantasy books with great characterbuilding.
So, despite some issues I’ve had with the worldbuilding in the second part of the book, it’s still one of the better fantasy books I’ve read in 2013.
Posted on 03/01/2014, in Books, Review and tagged Ascendant Kingdoms, Blaine McFadden, character driven tale, Classic fantasy, classical fantasy tropes, Epic Fantasy, Gail Z Martin, Ice, Ice Forged, post apocalyptic, Reign of Ash. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.