(Ascendant Kingdoms, #1)
This was my first book by Gail Z. Martin. From the cover (I’m not really sure why) I was expecting something a bit more military-SF flavored. Nope. This is straight-up fantasy, and I’d recommend it for anyone in the mood for a big, chunky, entertaining but not-too-demanding tale in the genre.
We’re introduced to a Scottish-tinged land, a feudal realm dependent on magic. Blaine McFadden is heir to a manor, but his father’s atrocities finally drive him to kill the man. This action gets him exiled to the northern penal colony of Velant. Fast-forward a few years (this part felt a bit rushed), and Blaine, now calling himself Mick, has made a life for himself in Velant. Life is hard, and the governor has a grudge against him, but he’s become a self-reliant man, and has gathered friends around him. Then – a magical catastrophe strikes. After quite a lot of chaos, dithering about, messing with enigmatic maps and pendants, and meeting with vampires, among other events, it transpires that Blaine may be the very last heir to the Lords of the Blood who, generations ago, tamed magic for the use of the kingdoms. And that means he may be the only one who has a chance of restoring the power that everyone depends on to keep civilization running.
At some points, the book felt a little bit uneven. I had some issues with the beginning, and it felt odd how there were two POV characters, but one was featured far more prominently than the other. Once the story hit its stride, though, I found it very entertaining, even if the Featured Quest wasn’t the most original concept. It’s also a big ol’ cliffhanger, so it’s a good thing I have the next book in the series on my e-reader and ready to go (thanks to NetGalley!).
I’d say this tale might be enjoyed by fans of Janny Wurts and/or Tad Williams.