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Reign of Ash (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga) by Gail Z. Martin
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Orbit Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316093637
Date: 01 April 2014 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

When the magic went away, the world became more dangerous. Blaine McFadden was trapped in a prison colony in the Far North. He returned to his homeland with his friends and companions to find chaos. Now he struggles to return the magic.

This would be enough of a challenge by itself, but there are some that don't want magic returned. Reese, a powerful talishte, wants to use his natural undead advantages to rule while others are limited. Fortunately, Penhallow, a rival of Reese, is helping Blaine and his friends.

To return the magic, Blaine must find a missing magician and a hidden order. The Knights of Esthrane were broken by a king. Some died while others fled. Blaine must find them in their hidden sanctuaries to have any chance of returning the magic. There is a ritual that needs to be performed, one that may kill him if it isn't successful.

Blaine has been unlucky in love. He loved Carensa, but was exiled for murder. He found love in the north, but lost her to an illness. He found balance with Kestrel, but that is put in jeopardy when someone from his past returns.

Bevin Connor was a nonentity at court before the magic failed. He is part of the quest to return the magic, but his abilities make him essential. But to survive he has to give up a part of himself. Although a main perspective, he still seems a little bit less important to the action most of the time.

Reign of Ash is a direct sequel to Ice Forged. This makes it not the best entry point to the series. Both novels are worth reading and the pages seem to fly by quickly. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Reign of Ash is an epic fantasy. The main perspectives follow Blaine and Connor, but there are other perspectives that track the action of other important people or windows into important events. The story is mostly an action adventure tale set in a world where magic has failed. There are also magical creatures and undead. There's interesting interplay between the vampire-like talishte and their wards. The addition of the undead allows for the knowledge of the past to be shared and accessed by Blaine and his companions.

There are still several issues that still need to be addressed in the next book in the series War of Shadows.

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