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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Ice Forged

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Ice Forged

Ice Forged
Ascendant Kingdoms, Book 1

Author: Gail Z. Martin
Pages: 592
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Source: Unsolicited copy from publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
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...

First Sentence: "'This has to end.'"

Ice Forged starts off with a real bang, one that lead me, temporarily, to believe that I might have found a new epic fantasy series to love. What happens is that Blaine's father, a real...honestly, I don't have an epithet strong enough for this guy...rapes his daughter. For Blaine, this is the last straw, and refuses to tolerate anything more from his father who has always been abusive but just upped the ante. Blaine kills him, with no Hamlet-like qualms; he just goes for it. Unfortunately, this scene is the most engaged that I was for the entirety of the nearly 600 page book.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a bad epic fantasy novel, and I would be willing to recommend it to the right sort of reader. As a reader, I prefer character-driven pieces, and this is even more true in a genre like epic fantasy, where I need to stay interested through 500+ pages. Martin's fantasy, however, focuses more on political machinations and world building than on character, so I found myself floundering.

The characters are nice basic foundations, but, without any character development, I couldn't develop more than a surface-level interest in them. They go places and they do things, but the book isn't really about them so much as it is about the fantasy world. If that's your thing, then awesome, but I stay through these journeys for the friendships within the fellowship or for that one romance you know won't bud until the last book but that you can see tendrils of from the beginning. Wonderful world building is crucial, of course, but character comes first with me, because, if I don't care about the main characters, why should I sit through thousands of pages to watch them complete their quest?

The world herein depicted has a lot of merit, especially with the treatment of magic. In this world, people and places have varying amounts of magic, but, basically, it's used to aid in pretty much everything, like growing crops, medicine, fighting, etc. Countries are at war and, no one's sure why, but something breaks the magic. The breaking alone has disastrous consequences, but people may not even be able to survive without all of those little bits of magic they used every day, which seemed so minor at the time but all add up to serious difficulties.

One thing I do not understand is why there are vampires, talishte, running around. Everything else in the world seems pretty standard high fantasy, and then BOOM vampires. They seem a bit out of place, and, honestly, I've had enough vampires at this point that I only want really good ones. For a while, capitalizing off of the most popular trend works, but, after a while, the trend sort of runs its course and readers are going to be pickier about that particular subgenre.

What it comes down to is what you like to get out of your epic fantasy. If you want powerful character arcs, touching interpersonal relationships or for the book to pass the Bechdel test, Ice Forged is not your book. If, however, you like to really delve into the layout of the kingdoms, both physically and politically, then have at it. I will not be reading any more of this series, unless I hear characterization becomes a priority in the next volume.

Rating: 2.5/5

Favorite Quote:
"The red-haired man scowled at Piran. 'You mock the gods?'
     Piran laughed again. 'I can't mock what isn't real.'"

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Blogger Jenni said...

oh wow.. that opening scene... wow. That's a pretty shocking way to start off. Too bad this one didn't hold up for you. I read a review of another fantasy today that was really lacking in character development! That one wasn't epic.. though... and I think there's a difference.. I dunno fantast isn't really my thing. The magic in this sounds cool but the vampires seems like a bit of a sell out from the way you describe it. Gotta sell books, right?


January 8, 2013 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Right? I was like "Yes, I will LOVE this unsolicited book!!!" but then things went down to a plateau of okay but not great. Sigh.

Just One Day DID come out today!

January 8, 2013 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

LOL, I like that the first line is 'This Has To End' like man, this book is taking forever I hope it ends soon. As much as I love politicial intrigue and reading about worlds and such, I don't think I could stomach the opening scene thus I probably won't read this.

January 8, 2013 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

Ugh I can't spell today. POLITICAL.

January 8, 2013 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Bahahaha, that's hilarious! He's actually talking about his dad's reign of terror, I think, but your interpretation fits my feelings pretty well. :-p

It would be great for someone else, but not for me!

January 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

'Vampire dudes, you are in the wrong book' - Vampires and High Fantasy are not a match made in heaven. Without strong characterisation I don't think I'd enjoy this one - I can overlook it in certain books but I think I'd need them here to keep me interested.

January 13, 2013 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Right? Vamps aren't high fantasy to me, even if you call them something else. Doesn't matter. I know a vampire when I read one, okay?

January 14, 2013 at 9:50 AM  

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