Review: Promise of Blood

Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage, #1)Title: Promise of Blood
Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
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.
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 a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan. 

Most fantasy books are either set in some medieval-ish time period or the modern day. When there are so many awesome time periods to base your period fantasy on, why stick to the medieval? Brian McClellan takes on a French Revolution-esque fantasy world where there are both traditional elemental magic users and Powder Mages who use gunpowder to fuel their magic. And it is AWESOME!

The French Revolution was a very lively and bloody time period in our history, and fittingly, this book opens with a bloodbath. What's really cool is that we see many different perspectives and points of view throughout the book, but we still don't always have all the pieces to the puzzle. This book is definitely a fantasy novel, but it's also a political thriller and a bit of a mystery: all things I love. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns, as well as getting to know characters who are on multiple sides of the same conflict.

The characters in this book are certainly flawed; they all have something broken inside because of some trauma in their past. No one is quite good, but you still root for them. I didn't like Taniel so much in this book, because he seemed like a selfish, whiny brat (life sucks. My fiancee cheated on me. I'm going to pretend feelings don't exist and snort gunpowder!), but there were enough other characters that I really did like. Adamat's devotion to his family was adorable, and it was fun seeing his investigation progress. Tamas is a little extreme in his quest for revenge, but you still want to root for him because he's been through so much and really believes he's doing the right thing. I thought Ka-Poel was really cool, and I can't wait to see more of what makes her special enough to send Julene running. Julene was epic and terrifying, but the cook whose name I'm blanking out on at the moment (M-something...) was THE BEST. Food makes everything better.


I read this book and the next in almost one sitting at the airport, and I couldn't wait for more. This is an entertaining and quite unique series and I definitely recommend it!

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