Magic with a Boom


I mentioned I read Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan last week, and I loved it.  This explanation may sound strange but bear with me.  With many fantasy novels I read and love, I have a feeling of “oh wow, this is so cool!”  With this novel, I felt more “Crap!  That’s bad!  What will happen next?”  It was a different, but good experience.

The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved…
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

The magic system in this novel is varied and interesting, with the main focus on a group identified as powder mages.  This is where the series gets its title.  As the description above suggests, they can control and draw power from gunpowder.   There are others who are sorcerers and even more with some magic talents, making for a unique set of magic users working for and against each other.

I really appreciated the characters in this novel, as most of them have something wrong with them.  None of them are perfect knights in shining armor, but they’re doing the best they can with what they have, and I wanted them to win.

There was also a diversity of opinion regarding the various god(s) and religion, which proved important as the story developed.  Why prepare for the gods’ involvement if you think they don’t exist?  But what if your enemies believe they do, and that motivates them to do evil?

The book has a sense of completion at the end, while also clearly setting up more books.  I like it when a book finishes the main plot up, as otherwise, it feels like I just did a lot of reading for nothing.  This one solves one set of problems while leaving us prepared to take on larger issues, and I’m excited to keep reading.

Have you read this series?  He’s also written a sequel to the series – what did you think of it?  Do you have any other books you’d recommend?

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