Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Book Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Review copy from Amazon Vine
Promise of Blood
Book 1 of The Powder Mage Trilogy
by Brian McClellan
Orbit Books
4 Stars


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...


In my time, I have read a lot of fantasy and I have to say this is one of the most original, most unique form of magic in a fantasy setting that I've ever seen! There are a few different types of magic users in this world: the Privileged - who are what you would expect of a sorcerer in a fantasy book, then you have the Knacked - who have one particular skill only, such as knowing when someone is lying or the ability to read minds. Then there are the Powder Mages who wield magic through gunpowder - they can make the gunpowder in an enemy's gun explode from a distance, for example, or they can ingest gun powder to induce a trance like state where they can see further etc.

The book has three main POV characters, Field Marshal Tamas, his estranged son Taniel and the ex-police inspector Adamat. After the king and nobles are overthrown and executed, Tamas sends Adamat to investigate the mysterious dying words spoken by every one of the royal cabal of Privileged: "Kresimir's Promise must not be broken".

The author uniquely blends elements of magic, mystery and political intrigue to give a very interesting plot. Some parts were a little bit bloody for my taste, but you couldn't really have the story without them - the book opens on a bloodbath in the royal palace as part of the military coup to take over the country.

It was an interesting read and I think I will be picking up the rest of the series once it's out.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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