Field Marshal Tamas throws over the King of Adro in order to bring justice and a better world for the people. Despite his success in overthrowing the king, the leader of the powder mages has his work cut out for him. There are traitors all around him, an overly powerful sorcerer escaped his clutches, and a war with the nation Kez looms on the horizon. If there were not enough, the gods will return to an age of modern civilization and gundpowder mages. Tamas is going to need every one of his powder mages, including his estranged son Taniel, to get through this.
This debut by Brian McClellan had intrigued me as soon I’d heard about it. Gunpowder mages? Coup-de-tat? Sign me up, I said and kept an eye on the library’s catalog, waiting for it to become available. Once I got my little paws on it, Promise of Blood didn’t disappoint. As someone who’s a huge fan of blended fantastical concepts and history, the mix of more traditional sorcery with modern weapons resulted in an engaging setting where a most exciting plot played out. McClellan did a great job of balancing out the different magical abilities, while still making things difficult for the protagonists. As a result, the book was fast-paced and held my attention. When I had to do other things, I was thinking about the book and couldn’t wait to get back to reading.
Another strength of this book is the characters. All of the main narrators–Tamas, the investigator Admat, and Taniel, are extremely well-rounded. McClellan makes all of these characters sympathetic, yet he does not make them flawless, and those aspects adds an element of greyness to the story that further heightened my enjoyment. Every character has agency, and it’s extremely interesting to see how these characters’ decisions affect the plot. My one complaint is that McClellan sometimes over-elaborated the characters’ emotions and thought processes, and that occasionally threw me out of the story. Fortunately, this did not happen very often.
Overall, the combination of the setting and characterization resulted in a great book, and I’m looking forward to the sequel. I recommend this especially if you like historical or epic fantasy or are looking for something while you wait for the next installment of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle or the next Song of Ice and Fire.