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Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Promise of Blood" by Brian McClellan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Official Brian McClellan Website
Order Promise of Blood HERE

"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..."

Promise of Blood is an excellent debut that mixes and matches stuff - magic and technology, intrigue and action, individual fights and battles, worker unions and ancient nobility, gods, sorcerers, magicians, well sketched world building with promise of expansion, memorable characters - most notable Tamas who is the main driver of the action - but the rest too, all in a fast moving, occasionally over the top package that one cannot put down.

Starting with the actual coup of Tamas against the king and nobility that is described in the blurb, the action continues fast and furious on a few fronts. Tamas has to consolidate his and his six very disparate but powerful allies' rule, while dealing with an unexpected royalist counter-attack, grasping neighbors that covet Adro's wealth and potential as well as powerful magicians with varied interests.

And not to speak of a famous curse/prophecy that has the god Kresimir who created the Nine Kingdoms, come and smite anyone who would overthrow one of the kings - as in a way the people of Adro do that since most choose to follow Tamas as they show in the famous "elections" day - what the "elections" mean will let you discover. This means that the angry Kresimir - if he exists of course - will destroy the whole country. It then definitely helps to have a god of your own, even though he may be quite mad...

In the other two main strands, Inspector Adamat investigates stuff for Tamas, this thread essentially being a vehicle to show life in Adro and its capital as well as the various factions and power players, from the "street" angle as well as delve into the world building from a historical point of view, while Taniel "Two Shot", Tamas' son and second most powerful "powder mage" after the marshal himself, has to contend with the sorcerous threats to his father's rule, while dealing with personal problems, un-trustful allies and the like...

Promise of Blood has a great ending at a good stopping point though of course the story just gets started and I expect it will be quite a hit for anyone who loves exuberant, fast moving epic fantasies with a rich background that is mostly hinted at in the beginning, but which is later expanded quite a lot. So larger than life characters, breathless action on multiple fronts, but also quieter personal moments and overall excellent fun the way this epic fantasy sub-genre should always be.

Promise of Blood is a winning debut and a top 25 for the year, while The Powder Mage is a series I expect will get only better as it progresses and will take its place in the first rank of ongoing fantasy series alongside say The Lightbringer tetralogy...


Anonymous said...

Oh, I want this book like oxygen! I keep hearing so many wonderful things about it in reviews, the plot sounds really interesting, and I can't help but think that it's been a while since I've been so excited about a book. Can't wait for the release date so that I can get my hands on a copy!

Liviu said...

well, Tuesday it should be out (at least US) - I actually looked yesterday in my local B&N and did not see it which was a little strange as usually Orbit titles get released much earlier than the official date - saw some even a month earlier....

maybe they think they have a big seller so they push for the first week numbers by keeping it under wraps until Tuesday...

Elliementalist said...

This sounds really great, sounds like my kind of book. :)


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