Book Review – Reign of Ash by Gail Z. Martin

Ascendent Kingdoms #2
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 619
Characters: Blaine, Connor, Kestel, Verran, Piran, Dawe, Penhallow, Geir
POV: 3rd
Genre: High Fantasy, Series

Survival is just the beginning.

Blaine McFadden endured six long years in the brutal Velant prison colony, exiled for murder. War devastated his homeland of Donderath and destroyed the magic on which the Ascendant Kingdoms relied. Now Blaine and a small group of fellow exiles have returned to a lawless wasteland, where unrestrained magic storms wreak havoc and monsters roam free.

Yet, amidst the chaos, rumors persist of a new magic that could restore the kingdoms. But the key lies with a dangerous, ancient ritual and a group of vanished survivors. Now McFadden’s only hope is a small, desperate, quickly rallied army. Together they must make one last stand knowing that if they fail, the civilization of the Ascendant Kingdoms dies with them.

Buy Link


Although this is a long book, it didn’t feel like a long read as I found myself turning pages to find out what happened next. I enjoyed reading more about the characters and world introduced in the first book. The world building is fabulous, and I particularly enjoyed the magic system, and reading about how a world that has magic intrinsic in everyday life copes when that magic is gone.

I liked that the characters made mistakes and that their quest wasn’t straightforward. I also liked the addition of the new characters introduced in this story and very happy that some of them are staying to help Blaine and his friends. Connor is one of my favourite characters. I enjoyed reading his character arc and growth, and the introduction of the Wraith Lord and his connection to Connor.

I also liked that characters have their own motivations that aren’t always what they first appear to be, and the surprises in store within that group of vanished survivors. I’m looking forward to learning more about the Knights of Esthrane.

I’m very happy that there is more of this series to read, including a prequel.

I’d recommend Reign of Ash to readers who enjoy high fantasy with fabulous world building, interesting characters who make mistakes, and a plot that spans a series. 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
This entry was posted in book review. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.