Series: The Powder Mage #1
Published by Orbit on 4/16/2013
Reviewed by: Chris
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.
It's up to a few...
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...
I'll readily admit that my expectations for PROMISE OF BLOOD were set fairly high. The idea of introducing flintlocks and gunpowder to a fantasy setting sounds like it could be a fantastic take on magic. On this, PROMISE OF BLOOD both delivers and… doesn't.
Brian McClellan's story shows an incredible amount of promise - and the magic of the Powder Mages is very cool - yet it falls a little flat because of the other the other magic systems in play in the world. You've got the Privileged. They've got gloves that allow them to manipulate the elements. Then you've also got Predeii which are kinda like the Privileged, but way, way more powerful. These somewhat standard magic systems overshadow the Powder Mages and their gunpowder magic and doesn't really let them shine. I was really, really excited for the gunpowder magic so that made me go all sad face.
The book is told from several points of view. First up is Field Marshal Thomas who just lead a successful coup against the king. Then there's Adamat. He's my favorite character in the book and is a gambling addict former investigator. He's tasked by Thomas to investigate "Kresimir’s Broken Promise". Those were the final words of the royal mages that were killed during the uprising. Taniel is the last of the major characters. He's Thomas' son and he's charged with hunting down a royal mage that escaped during the initial fighting.
All of the characters are entertaining and I'm looking forward to seeing them fleshed out in further books. My only complaint is that I was hoping for more of a focus on Thomas. After the beginning of the book he becomes more of a secondary character. I wanted more of the politics involved in taking over the kingdoms and sadly didn't get it. Hopefully we'll see more of that in later volumes.
While my rating for this book is only three bats, it really is worth reading. The story holds a ton of promise (of blood. Dun dun!) and if the next books stray off the well-trod path of standard fantasy tropes then this is going to be a truly excellent series.
- Promise of Blood
- The Crimson Campaign
Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P Beaulieu
The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik