Book Review – Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin

Ascendant Kingdoms #1
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 563
Characters: Blaine, Connor, Kestel, Verran, Piran, Dawe, Penhallow, Geir
POV: 3rd
Genre: High Fantasy, Series

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…

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I loved the first in this series. The world building is fabulous and rich in history, and despite it being a long book, it was a fairly quick read as I got pulled into the story, and didn’t want to put it down. I liked the impact of the loss of magic impacted the land, with so many used to using it even for the little things, and the thought that went into all of it.

The characters are flawed, which I love, and not your average heroes. The sense of made family is something I enjoy in stories, and I liked how they’d managed to make a life together and have each other’s backs. Each of them brings something to their group with their different personalities and skill sets. Connor provides a good contrast as the outsider coming into the group, with his different background, and experiences. I like the way they all fit together.

I’ve always had a weakness for stories that feature vampires and I’m already a fan of Penhallow and Geir.

On the flip side, the bad guys are a real threat, and come across very well as nasty pieces of work.

The story kept me turning pages, and as soon as I’d finished I had to get hold of book 2, despite my already large TBR pile.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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