Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

So this book starts straight into the action, there’s no messing about. We meet our main protagonist, Tamas, a general, as he’s overthrown the monarchy in a French style revolution. He plans to guillotine the King, the Queen and most of the nobility, for the ‘good of the people’. Believe me I’m not giving anything away here, this is all in the first couple of pages. The rest of the book deals with the protagonists dealing with the consequences of the revolution.

We have three primary POV’s, the aforementioned Tamas, his son Taniel, and Adamat, a private investigator. We also have a few POV chapters from Nila, a nanny for a noble house.

There’s a lot of magic in these books. Both Tamas and Taniel are powdermages, who have the ability to snort gunpowder like cocaine which gives them ability over bullets and also heightened senses and stamina. There are also privileges who are more your typical magicians who have control over the elements and are extremely powerful. There are also knacks, people who have a specific trait, like not needing to sleep.

While I enjoyed the magic systems and how they were used, I had an issue with the basic premise of powdermages. Like how are there people who have these abilities which are linked to a man made substance? Were there thousands of people throughout history who had this ability but couldn’t use because gunpowder hadn’t been invented yet? Obviously you have to take all magic systems with a grain of salt but this seemed a bit out there. It’s like the author had this cool concept (and it is pretty cool) and then tried to make it work. Maybe there will be a good in world explanation for it, I really hope so.

The plot is extremely fast paced. You kind of feel like this was a sequel series and not the start of the brand new series, there were so many references to past events. This is not actually a bad thing as it adds some depth to the characters. The characterisation wasn’t too bad, it could have been better if the story had slowed down at any point but since it didn’t we only get a fairly superficial idea of who each of our POV’s are. 

There are a lot of positives to this as well. As mentioned the pace never lets up and it is interesting. We have almost a mini detective novel in the Adamat chapters, we get war and army novels from Tamas and Taniel as well as a more old fashioned adventure story with Taniel as well. Nila gives a small view in what it all means to the ordinary person. There is a lot of history in play as well with ancient characters and gods, it’s pretty epic. The book ends well and I am eager to get into the rest of the series.

4 stars out of 5

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