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Reign of Ash (The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga)

Reign of Ash - Gail Z. Martin The second in the series, directly following the cliffhanger ending of 'Ice Forged.' I'd recommend beginning with the first one.

Here, Blaine McFadden, the last living Lord of the Blood, has accepted that he is likely the only man who has a chance to restore the magic than his civilization depends on. Therefore, gathering his friends around him, he embarks on a quest to find the thirteen disks that were held by the original thirteen Lords of the Blood when the magic was harnessed to men's will.
Assisting him are cryptic clues inserted into his companion Connor's mind by the enigmatic mage Vigus Quintrel.
Opposing him is the vicious bastard lord Pollard and his ally, the vampire Reese.
Luckily, McFadden's also got a powerful vampire (and his followers) on his side: Penhallow.

The plot progression felt very much like watching someone play a videogame: collect these tokens, figure out this clue, defeat these monsters. On to the next level... Collect another token, get past this obstacle, have another clue revealed. Time for a battle...

If you're into this kind of thing, your mileage may vary. The first book was firmly within the familiar tropes of the fantasy genre, but this one, I found even more predictable. For me, it got tedious well before I got to the end (and it's quite long - over 650 pages.) I also found myself annoyed that the only female main character in the story, Kestel, who was the coolest part of the first book, here gets relegated to the position of love interest - and thus lost my interest.

I wanted more - the drama between Blaine and his family members at their unexpected reunion is interesting, but not fully explored. I wanted more about the villains' motivations. I wished all the characters were more rounded; not just "I'm a thief! Whenever I see a lock, I'm just itching to pick it!" or "I'm a beautiful gypsy! I will constantly hint darkly about the visions that come to me in dreams!" (etc.)

There's another book in the series coming, but I was glad to find that this installment ends on a much more satisfactory conclusive note than the previous book did.

Advance copy provided by NetGalley in return for an honest review.