Book Review: Ice Forged

Amazon Cover - Ice Forged

Book Cover from Amazon

Below is my the second Apocalypse Fantasy novel book review this year. (Click here to see the other: Shattering the Ley). I guess the end-of-the-world no longer applies to just the Young Adult (YA) sci-fi and horror genres.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin


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. Harsh military discipline and the oppressive magic 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, as the world’s magic runs wild, McFadden and the people of Velant must fight to survive and decide their fate …

From Gail Z. Martin, author of the beloved series THE CHRONICLES OF THE NECROMANCER and THE FALLEN KINGS CYCLE, comes a new fantasy adventure for the ages.
Welcome to the end of the world.
Welcome to the beginning of THE ASCENDANT KINGDOMS SAGA.


Brought during a Kindle sale to kickstart the advance copies of Gail Martin’s next book of the series.

I normally don’t buy High Fantasy, disliking the formulaic approach of the quest – gather the friends – travel the lands – etc. Somehow an author writing High Fantasy never quite makes the world or situation real to me, but the world-building aspects of a magical planet suddenly have magic no longer working the way it should intrigued me. I’ve met Ms. Martin at conventions and the price was right so I decided to go for it.

The first book of The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga focuses on the death of magic and the immediate consequence following. The magic system is just unique enough and is tied to why magic can go from tame and usable in every day life (better tasting beer, a tweak to keep pests out of crops, major magic to use in wars) to a feral, dangerous force roaming the countryside, more ferocious and hungry than any monster.

I liked the Siberian-style prison colony, but wished the continental magic countries and their politics were a little less generic. The world-building fell just a breath below the intriguing I was hoping for. On the other hand, this was the first book of a series. The author needed to define the world, the characters AND the situation. I look forward to book two to see if world becomes uniquely its own as the medieval magical apocalypse continues.

As for the story itself, again just shy of being really good. It just didn’t pull me in all the way, but then I am not a fan of High Fantasy so I am not the best judge success or failure in this genre. Some bits are repetitive, but just enough so that if you need to put down this 600-page tome for a day or two (such as for going to work), you can slip into the story again without flipping back.

The ending is anti-climatic. Some other reviewers thought this was a down-point. I, for one, was happy not to see a big final battle that needed to get bigger and badder with each continuing book of the series. This book is about failure: moral good being punished for doing the right thing the wrong way, a good kingdom falling to a bad kingdom because it obeyed the rules of right, a prison at the end of the world overturned by its convicts – and the convicts discovering they still needed to do everything their keepers made them do, coming home in triumph and discovering there is no home left, and finding all the clues they need but still unable to pull things off. Of course the final scene will close in failure; but it sets up the possibility of success for the next book.

A book I look forward to.