By Gail Z. Martin
Reign of Ash is the second book in my Ascendant Kingdoms series. In the first novel, Ice Forged, a war destroys the ability to harness and use magic, devastating the kingdom of Donderath and its neighboring lands. Blaine McFadden just might be the only man who can put things right, but he was sentenced to life imprisonment in an arctic prison colony before the war began.
It’s probably not a big spoiler to say that Blaine does finally agree to try to restore the magic. But doing so is harder and more dangerous than he imagined. So when Reign of Ash opens, the consequences of Donderath’s cataclysmic war are still unfolding. Not only is magic still wild and lethal, but without a king or the nobility, the kingdom has devolved into chaos. Warlords vie for land, resources and dominance. Old hatreds and secrets create new dangers. Not only are the mortals fighting among themselves, but the immortal talishte are riven by internal jealousies and vendettas. And everything Blaine does to try to straighten things out seems to make it worse.
The ideas for Reign of Ash and Ice Forged were floating around in my head for a while before I got the go-ahead to write the series. For me, it always starts with “what if?”
What if….magic was a natural force that could be harnessed, but the bond between people and magic was artificial, a magical construct itself?
And what if… something broke that bond. Could it be restored? If so, would it be the same? If it came back, how would it be different? Would people get back power if they had lost it, or get new powers they didn’t have before? Would people gain or lose power? Would the rules be the same?
And what if…there were powerful forces who liked a world without controlled magic, who thrived on the chaos and had plans of their own, taking advantage of the new imbalance of power? We all think that after a devastating event, everyone wants to get back to normal, but what if some powerful people saw new advantages in the rubble?
When Blaine returns to find a way to restore magic, he’s not only up against the deadly forces of untamed magic. He also discovers that he’s gained powerful enemies who have a vested interest in making sure he fails–and dies. The longer it goes without controlled magic, the more out of kilter things become, and the more danger Blaine faces. Will the alliances he’s built hold? And will his special connection to the magic, something in his very blood, be enough to tame it again? And most importantly, will doing so require his death?
Those were the questions I grappled with as I created Ice Forged and Reign of Ash. I’ve turned in the manuscript for book 3, War of Shadows, which comes out in 2015. I’ll start the fourth book this summer. Which means that some of the questions will be answered in Reign of Ash, but many of the answers will be questioned again and again, because Blaine has a long way to go before he’s safe…if that day ever comes.