The Dread

I often approach the final book in a series with some trepidation.  Will it live up to the rest of the series, will the author be able to create enough impact for a finale but also finish it in a way that leaves you satisfied? I’d really enjoyed the five previous books that were set in the Winter Kingdoms, so I had both high hopes and mild anxiety when I picked up this final book.

I was in tears by page five so that put my fears to a sad rest!

Martin has managed to create a book utterly in keeping with the rest of the series, with the same engaging writing style.  The characters I love so much are present and pressed at every turn.  With the characters so scattered in different countries, it could have easily become confusing as what was happening and where but the author managed to keep it very clear and progression between segments felt very natural and smooth.

A very mild complaint I had from The Sworn was that Kiara was kept out of most of the story due to pregnancy and this time it was Carina’s turn.  I felt the loss of her input but in the end it felt more real, that a heavily pregnant woman couldn’t take part in a brutal war.  I’m glad that little snippets of her were included as it would just not have been the same without her.

The story doesn’t let up in intensity or pace, with Martin driving my emotions as a reader as hard as she does her characters.  It’s full of the things that are guaranteed to tug at my heart strings; fighting against the odds, heroic sacrifice, honour, duty, love and grief.  Many authors use them, only a few get it so right I end up holding my breath at crucial points, crying with joy or heartbreak.  It’s a gift and one that Gail Z. Martin has in abundance.

While The Dread marks the end of the two amazing series and these characters for now, I’m glad to say we aren’t yet done with the Winter Kingdoms!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

The Sworn

While plague sweeps across the Winter Kingdoms, some nations barely survived because of famine and loss from the war.  A dark power rises across the northern sea, looking to use their weakened state to wage his own battle.  That dark power that seeks to free an ancient enemy and only The Sworn can see what is coming.

It was good to see the major characters from the last series again, even if not much time had passed in the world from the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen.  They are just as consistently written and as likeable as before and it was a bit like greeting old friends.

The book started quite slowly as the scene for this new series was set.  Meeting and getting to know the new characters took a little time but was worth it.  As with the others, Martin writes her new heroes in such a way that you can’t help but like them. The pace did pick up eventually and was well matched with the story as events unfolded.

The plot was a little confusing at first with the new characters, and the focus jumped around a bit between them all.  I did feel  though, as if it was almost a reflection of what the characters were going through and their own confusion.  In my imagination it’s like a huge circle with everyone far apart on the edges but as you read on, the circle gets smaller and smaller until people meet up, join forces and as knowledge and experiences get shared, they start working out what was really going on.

And I have to say… what seems to be going on is huge!  By the end of the book I was desperate to know what happens next!

There are some very sad and poignant moments in The Sworn, and in a subtle way you get prepared for them, but it doesn’t lessen the overall impact.

I still love the way magic works in these books, the variety of forms, plus the religious aspects still intrigue me and Tris’ unique power is always fascinating as he continues to learn who and what he is.

I was disappointed that Kiara and Carina didn’t really play a huge part, other than supporters, due to pregnancy.   While it is a natural and expected thing, it almost felt like it was a deliberate ploy to keep more characters out of the mix.  Having said that, I get the feeling Tris and Kiara’s firstborn is going to play an important role in the rest of the series, and the reasoning for Kiara getting pregnant again so quickly was sound.  Kiara is going to have to play a part in the next book, pregnant or not, so maybe in the end it’s a question of setting the stage.

Can’t wait for the next book in this exciting fantasy series!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Dark Lady’s Chosen

It seems nothing comes easy to King Martris and Queen Kiara of Margolan.  Reclaiming the throne seems to have only brought more problems, along with the poverty and famine the country is experiencing after Jared’s abuses.  Tris has to go to war against the man who would put Jared’s bastard on the throne, leaving Kiara pregnant and vulnerable at Shekerishet.  Jonmarc and Carina are facing their own problems in Principality and as Lord of Dark Haven, Jonmarc has to deal with the Blood Council of the Vayash Mor, not all of who want a mortal as the Lord of a sanctuary for non humans.  With the Legacy Arantola left with the shredding of the Flow, it seems everything is against them.  Yet they must succeed or everything is lost.

Dark Lady’s Chosen is the final book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer, and is a wonderful  conclusion to this series.  All the plot threads that had been woven throughout the three previous books, come together with enough flair and drama to make a
great end to the story.

By this stage I loved all the ‘good’ characters, both major and minor and cared a great deal about what happened to them.  The progression that Tris, Kiara, Jonmarc and Carina went through made it feel like I’d grown along with them.  Even though they were all in different places, with several major events happening to them, it didn’t feel disjointed or awkward.  Each part flowed naturally from one to the next while the tension increased each time.. The pace was well calculated and I didn’t feel it dragged at all, even during the quieter moments.  The action scenes were both imaginative and visceral, and I liked that the characters were not spared from injury.  Almost the opposite in fact, which made it believeable, and at times had me wincing.

I think it’s a testament to Martin’s writing that I couldn’t predict how it would turn out, I just hoped.  The ending though was excellent and I put the book down with a good and satisfied feeling of having enjoyed a good story.

I’m extremely happy that Gail Z. Martin is not yet done with this world and that I will meet up with some of the beloved characters again, in the first book of the next series – The Sworn.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Dark Haven

The war might have been won but the fighting is far from over.  King Martris Drayke, having secured the throne of Margolan, now welcomes Kiara to Shekerishet to be his Queen.  What should be a happy time for them is shadowed by plot, threat and intrigue and it seems some of Jared’s former supporters would see Tris’ rule end before it truly began.  Jonmarc Vahanian takes his place as Lord of Dark Haven, and as a place of both refuge and home to humans, Vayash Moru and Vyrkin, life is seldom going to be boring. Overjoyed that Carina is going to join him, but with matters within the blood council tense and fragile, he fears he won’t be able to keep her safe. A faction of ‘those who walk the night’ would see Dark Haven with an immortal lord and would go to great lengths to see that realised.

Dark Haven is the third book of the Chronicles of the Necromancer and follows directly on from The Blood King.  I did wonder how Martin would write this novel, having everyone splitting off from the central group they started as, but I have to say it was well done.  It didn’t feel at all disjointed when the story changed to another character’s and each time the progression felt natural.

It was good to see each of the characters I’ve grown to love, rather than the story focussing on one pair of them; the title of this book did make me wonder if that would be the case.  Happily it was not, and Tris and Kiara play as much a part in this book as Carina and Vahanian.  Carroway, Soterius, Harrtuck, Gabriel and Mikhail are of course along for the ride too.

The plot was exciting with so much intrigue coming at them from all corners I wonder how much more they can take and still be true to themselves.  The problems with the flow of magic is an interesting facet and is another ticking bomb along with the rest of the plotlines, and I thought it was good that the characters who are sensitive to it, know there is a problem and the danger it inherently presents but are too hard pressed by mortal threat to be able to figure out what to do about it.  As I read through the book it felt like everything the characters endured, was slowly pressing them together in a vice and somewhere along the line there is going to be one hell of an explosion.

The writing was again smooth and easy to read, the story gripping and with enough tension to keep me turning the pages, needing to know what happens next.  I have to say the end of the book had me gasping and as I have the final book in the series waiting on my desk, I’ve had to force myself to not pick it up until this review was done!

Excellent and enjoyable epic fantasy from Gail Z. Martin.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)