Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

There is a fairly funny story as to how I picked up this book. One weekend I locked myself out of the car park where my car was, and my family who had the spare key were several hours away on a boat, whale watching. I picked up the book from one of the city bookstores to give me something to do while I waited for my family to rescue me. As it turns out, this bookstore is the only store in the state which stocks Brian McClellan’s books, and even then they’re often not in stock. Having heard good things about McClellan’s books, I picked up the only copy of Promise of Blood for sale in the state, and went to the nearby park to read.

I found myself a nice warm spot in the sun and started the book. Nearby an orchestra started playing. As it turns out, the music from Pirates of the Caribbean quite suits the fast paced nature of the book. Next I looked up, it was dark, the orchestra had packed up and left, I’d missed 3 phone calls from my family and read half the book. If I had a jacket and some light I wouldn’t have put the book down.

Setting

McClellan’s book sets up an fascinating industrial era world, where we find ancient magicians with awe inspiring powers, and their newer counterparts, the powder mages, whose magic is entirely based around gunpowder. The worldbuilding is quite different to any fantasy I’ve recently read, heavily featuring more modern technology that what I usually see.

Characters

As the name of the series suggests, we spend a lot of time following the powder mages and their stories.

Field Marshal Tamas is the biggest influence on the series. Setup from page 1 as an incredibly skilled powder mage, by page 5 he’s already committed a coup, and taken control of the country from the king, and into the hands of himself and his associates. From there, we get to see him dealing with the fall out of the coup, rebellion and a few other things I won’t spoil for you. He has a fairly bland personality of the typical military officer, but a very interesting backstory that comes to light over the course of the book.

Powder Mage Taniel, the aforementioned field marshal’s son, spends the book following his father’s orders, and trying to put out the fires of the coup. I particularly like Taniel, he has some awesome fight scenes, and some very good character development moments.

Finally, Adamat is the only non powder mage POV character. Instead, Adamat has a Knack. A different, and lesser magic, Adamat has a perfect memory. Giving him the perfect skill as a private investigator, Adamat spends the book working for Tamas, and investigating loose ends from the coup, while also doing his best to keep his family safe.

Plot

By far one of the best things about this book is McClellan’s ability to tell a good story. From page 1 the book draws you into a fast paced gripping tale. Promise of Blood is one of the faster paced fantasy books I’ve read recently, with a few breaks to let the tension ease off, the book easily keeps you turning to the next page. Twists, turns and red herrings keep you guessing as to where the book is heading, and the motivations of different characters.

Fun Facts

I’ve heard the Brian McClellan is a massive foodie, and he incorporates his love of food into the book in a very clever form.

McClellan was also a student of Brandon Sanderson’s writing class prior to writing these books, and you can see some of the similarities in the magic and the way he writes.

 

Conclusion

I really loved this book, I read this book in two or three sittings and quickly found myself back at the bookstore to buy The Crimson Campaign. Unfortunately it won’t be in stock again until next week. Despite the difficulty of actually buying McClellan’s books, I loved every moment of the book. 

Audience

  • People who like dark fantasy
  • People who like guns
  • People who like fast paced action based books
  • People who like lots of magic
  • People who like consequences for magic use
  • People who are fans of authors like Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks (the first chapter of The Black Prism was even in the back of the book) would probably enjoy this book.

 

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