First of a new fantasy series from the author of The Dread (2012, etc.), brewed from standard ingredients.
Condemned as a murderer for killing his brute of a father, Blaine McFadden is shown mercy by King Merrill of Donderath; instead of execution, he’s exiled to Velant, a bleak penal colony in the arctic Edgeland. Despite the brutality of the colony’s swaggering governor, Prokief, and his cruel mages, Blaine—calling himself simply “Mick” to conceal his aristocratic background—survives and, in a limited way, prospers, acquiring a “family” of fellow exiles. But when the supply ships from Donderath stop arriving, the colonists face a harsh winter that many will not survive. Back in Donderath, meanwhile, young Connor serves as a go-between, reporting the news from King Merrill’s councils (neighboring Meroven has invaded, and the news is grim) to vampire Lord Penhallow. Finally, Meroven’s mages prepare a mighty blast of magic; Merrill counters but dies in the attempt—and the magic itself is extinguished. In Edgeland, Prokief’s evil mages find themselves suddenly powerless and no match for the vengeful colonists. Luckily, at this point, an abandoned but seaworthy ship sails itself into harbor, so Blaine/Mick and chums prepare to sail back to Donderath to find out what’s going on. There’s plenty of action and plot embroidery, and the pages turn easily enough—although, after nearly 600 of them, Martin still can’t provide even a token resolution.
Better than average, but be prepared to settle in for the long haul.