Ice Forged by Gail Z Martin

Ice ForgedA review by Nalini Haynes
  • ISBN: 9781841499154
  • Publisher: Orbit (Hachette)
  • Page count: 592

Blaine McFadden, heir to a title and lands, murders his father for raping his sister. King Merrell is lenient; instead of sentencing Blaine to death, he sentences Blaine to deportation to a land not unlike Greenland in this fantasy world.

Six years later, now called ‘Mick’, McFadden has forged a life for himself in Edgeland – then it all goes wrong when magic is destroyed, unleashing storms the like of which only vampires have seen before.

Mutiny in the convict settlement frees McFadden and friends. Fishing for food after the northern ‘long night’ sets in secures them an abandoned ship whose crew went insane after eating poisoned grain. To save the settlement from starvation and in the hopes of restoring magic, McFadden, his friends, and a ship-full of former convicts sail for their homeland.

The first 500 pages were engaging epic fantasy but in the last 65 pages I felt the characters seemed to be repeating the same discussion about whether to go somewhere; this was probably intended to increase tension. The last 10 pages seemed very rushed: X happens, get up, do Y in spite of Z making Y very dangerous, etcetera. The end would have been better if the characters were left at X, CLIFFHANGER, dun, dun DUUNNNN. I must disclose, however, that my (very old) copy is an ARC so there may have been changes before the retail version was released.

If it wasn’t for the name on the cover, you’d think Ice Forged was written by a man. The point of view characters are generally men; Blaine’s initial motivation was the stereotypical avenging a female loved one and only one of Blaine’s adopted family is a woman: Kestrel. Kestrel is the femme fatale who seduces and kills without hesitation. If Ice Forged was a movie, it’d fail the Bechdel Test.

On the other hand, here’s a woman author lauded by the menz in the SFF community. Gail Z Martin’s name is up there among the authors to watch (and read, of course). Ice Forged is epic fantasy in an imagined world with magic gone awry, vampires fighting each other, murder and mayhem at court and all that is familiar destroyed; here is a world that needs to be rebuilt.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars