Ice Forged - Gail Z. Martin
After killing his father, Lord Blaine McFadden is stripped of his title and sent to the harsh penal colony of Velant in the far north. Six years later, “Mick” has earned the rights of a colonist and has made a comfortable life for himself. However, war has broken out in the home country of Donderath, and the colony soon finds itself cut off from home, as well as the magic that pervades nearly all aspects of daily life.

Ice Forged has a very rushed and weak start. The prologue is good example of why the old “show, don’t tell” maxim is important. Characters are introduced, each gets an infodump paragraph, and a plot point happens in another couple of paragraphs.

The story gets much better once the main characters are introduced. The country of Donderath is in a war with a rival nation, and the use of magical attacks has been causing widespread disturbances. Connor, the deuteragonist, is sent after a mysterious map that may hold the key to the very nature of magic in this world. Magic is pervasive in the world of Ice Forged, and most people are capable of using some form to enhance natural talents and skills. There are also the more skilled mages, and even vampires, which oddly do work in this setting.

As a protagonist, Blaine is a bit bland and a little too perfect. He’s known for being level-headed and a skilled arbiter, talents which lend him to a council position in Edgeland. Even his crime is justified, as his father is widely regarded as an awful person. Fortunately, none of this sticks out enough to become overly annoying.

This is a solid fantasy novel, and surprisingly quick read for almost 600 pages. The mysteries are intriguing enough to keep you reading, and there are some good characters as well. Skip the clunky prologue and get lost in the story.

A review copy was provided through the first reads program.