by Gail Z. Martin
Ice Forged, the first book in my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, doesn’t end with a cliffhanger. But the task at the heart of the book remains incomplete because the information required to do it successfully is incomplete and because the world has changed in unexpected ways. It’s very much a medieval post-apocalyptic story.
When you look at real history, apocalyptic devastation wasn’t unfamiliar to medieval people. In the real world, many people never traveled more than twenty miles beyond their village or were bound to the land. If that’s the case, then what affects that twenty-mile radius essentially affects your entire world, and during the Middle Ages, that often included plague, flood, draught, war, and invasion–quite apocalyptic, if you’re the one living through it!
In Reign of Ash, the kingdom Blaine has returned to has fallen apart. There is no central or local government, no rule of law, and no nobility or monarchy left. Magic storms beget monsters and alter the landscape, change the climate and cause a virulent form of madness. Bandits, gangs and warlords have arisen in the void left when the monarchy collapsed. The kingdom’s infrastructure is in ruins. Buildings, walls, roads, seawalls, aqueducts, trade routes, farms, granaries, vineyards, homes–all destroyed by the Great Fire and the magic storms.
And with that destruction commerce comes to a halt as no one can produce the goods or has need of the services that were common before the Cataclysm. Without the ability to provide for themselves, with their homes and farms in ruins, refugees set out across the countryside, looking for a way to provide for themselves, leading to mass dislocation.
Knowledge was also destroyed, hidden or lost as the Great Fire hit the noble houses, the universities and the mage libraries. And that knowledge becomes even more precious since with magic gone, there are gaps in what people remember about how to do even simple tasks without a flicker of magic to help them along.
It takes time to piece something together that hasn’t been done in 400 years, which is what Blaine and his friends are trying to do when it comes to restoring the magic. And when you realize that there are factions with conflicting interests and powerful people who stand to benefit from chaos, it becomes clear that such issues won’t be easily solved.
Welcome to the apocalypse.