Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan

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Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: War, magic, shape shifters, a few haunting pasts, swords, muskets and a cook… err… chef… who thinks he's a reincarnated god. Not just another epic fantasy but the McClellan debut fantasy and the first of a trilogy. Ripping!!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 560 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0356501994

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Adamat, investigator and ex-police inspector, is summoned to the Skyline Palace for, he assumes, an audience with the king. However, when he arrives, the grounds are in darkness and a greater darkness lurks within. The King's Hielman bodyguard are all dead and the royal family won't be around for much longer as Field Marshal Tamas of the home-grown Adros Military has led a coup. Tamas wants to hire Adamat for his investigating prowess but neither Adamat, Tamas nor the mages and sorcerers under Tamas' command realise what will be unleashed as a result… or perhaps Tamas does. Meanwhile a servant girl starts the fight for the survival of herself and a small but very important child.

2013 is turning out to be a good year for fantasy debuts in 2013. Where the' debut is concerned, Luke Scull is definitely in the running and American writer Brian McClellan has just joined the field at level pegging or maybe even a little ahead as this is downright excellent. It's been described by some as 'the French Revolution with magic' and, while I can see what they mean, there's a lot more to it than that.

McClellan's world is well-crafted as duelling pistols and carriages mingle with magic wards and supernatural gifts. It's accompanied by a whole hierarchy of sorcery, from the powder mages who are literally wizards at manipulating (and being powered by) gunpowder (as in the case of Tamas and his son Taniel), the Knacked (no, no letters missing) who each have a precise individual gift (e.g. insomnia in a good way) and the Privileged who are way up there in the special skills department.

There is also a rich history both on a worldly level revolving around missing creator gods and the roots of conflict and, indeed, on a more personal note. Take Taniel for instance. The powder is starting to control him as much as vice versa and as for his love life… When we first meet him he's returned from an expedition separately from his well-chosen well-respected fiancée. Instead he has a very young female savage in tow known to him as 'Pole'. Daddy is not well pleased. Mihali the delusional chef, is a classic character in the making, as is Julene but we'll sidle gently away from her.

Everyone is introduced to us at an absorbable rate as the tsunami-like crescendo that will sweep us along to the next book starts to build, tying up some ends but leaving us curious with intriguing peeks at the past that will fit in the puzzle as the instalments progress. Indeed, the action isn't at all impeded by the introduction of characters; very unusual for that first 'set up' book of a series.

The language and action ensures this novel's success as an adult book that young adults can enjoy without parental fear. Apart from one use of the 'sh' word, the swear words are light or fictional ('pit' being a favourite) and, although the action contains blood and dismemberment, it's not described graphically or dwelt on. Definitely not as brutal or as graphically referencing gore and adult themes as Messrs Scull, Abercrombie and Brent Weeks giving us an alternative to stark fantasy realism. (Having said that, being genteel and middle-aged, I will happily soak up both categories like a sponge!)

In short, Brian McClellan is a veritable word mage and I shall remain on the edge of my seat with anticipation, excitement and, knowing me, impatience until Book 2, The Crimson Campaign comes out in February 2014.

We also have a review of McClellan's Sins of Empire.

If you enjoyed this and would like some more fantasy high adventure, then you'll also enjoy Theft of Swords by Michael J Sullivan.

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Buy Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan at

Booklists.jpg Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan is in the Top Ten Fantasy Books of 2013.


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