Ice Forged By Gail Z. Martin out January 8, 2013 from Orbit
Ice Forged is the story of what one man from Donderath, Blaine McFadden, will do to save his little sister Mari from harm. He gets sentenced to the penal colony of Velant for his trouble. Years pass and Blaine, now known as Mick has earned his ticket out of the labor camp and has set up homesteading with some friends, one of whom becomes his wife, who shortly passes away from illness. Mick and his friends are doing all right for themselves farming, with a side job fishing in order to have enough food for the long winters.
Six years after being sent to Velant and just as things are starting to look somewhat comfortable (if cold) on their homestead, Mick’s world is turned upside down when the magic of the world suddenly disappears. A refugee ship from Mick’s homeland comes bringing the news that war and the disappearance of magic from the world have destroyed Donderath. Mick and his friends travel back there to try and see if they can get the magic to return, but this is an epic task, and so won’t be completed for several books. In this book, they do reach Donderath and Mick learns some things to help him in his task.
Blaine/Mick is an interesting and well-developed main character. His housemates are interesting as well. Their relationships at the homestead and then they reach Donderath are quite different because Velant does not have the class distinctions which are present in Donderath. These differences are quite well done and it is interesting to see what the commoners thought about those who were noble, but had not identified as such or those who said they trafficked with nobles.
This first volume has more of man-fighting-for survival-in-a-very-cold-place than it does battle scenes, but the few it has are done well with the ex-soldier characters being much more familiar with weapons than those with no experience except in practice. Vampires are introduced in this volume but their origins are not discussed, so we look forward to seeing more about their history in future volumes.
As in her previous works, the author focuses on gray characters, neither good nor bad; how they are perceived depends on the viewers’ perspective. Blaine/Mick is a recovering damaged hero whom you want to succeed and maybe find some happiness along the way. He has some happy moments in this volume, so there is hope that the balance of hardship and happiness which made this volume so enjoyable will continue in future volumes. This book is a good beginning to a new epic fantasy series.
The author can be found on the web at http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/ , on Facebook under Winter Kingdoms and on Twitter (@GailZMartin).
See Gail Z. Martin in the next few weeks at Chattacon Jan 25-27, Shevacon Feb 8-10 and Mysticon Feb 22-24.