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Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage Trilogy) Paperback – April 8, 2014
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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"Promise of Blood is a hugely promising debut. Guns, swords, and magic together? What more could you want? How about tense action, memorable characters, rising stakes, and cool, cool magic? Not only the finest flintlock fantasy I've read, but also the most fun. Brian McClellan is the real thing."―New York Times bestseller Brent Weeks
"This book is just plain awesome. I found myself enjoying every moment of it. Innovative magic, quick-paced plot, interesting world. I had a blast."―New York Times bestselling author, Brandon Sanderson
"Brian McClellan is an explosive powder keg of imagination with an expertly-plotted fuse. The stories he tells are the stories we'll be reading for years to come."―Sam Sykes on Promise of Blood
"The world of the privileged sorcerers and the strange abilities of the powder mages who can manipulate gunpowder are just as well drawn in this captivating universe."―RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)
"McClellan's debut packs some serious heat...A thoroughly satisfying yarn that should keep readers waiting impatiently for further installments."―Kirkus (Starred Review)
"McClellan's debut is a lot of fun --- a historically influenced fantastical romp filled with machismo, intrigue and magic."―SciFi Now (UK)
"McClellan neatly mixes intrigue and action...in a society where new forces like labor unions, gunpowder-armed soldiers, and explosion-causing 'powder mages' clash with traditional magics, more, and beliefs."―Publishers Weekly
"Gunpowder and magic. An explosive combination. Promise of Blood is the best debut I've read in ages."―Peter V. Brett
"I love the world Brian McClellan builds, Powder Mages with flintlock pistols against white-gloved Privileged for the fate of a nation and more. Promise of Blood feels like the start of something amazing."―Django Wexler
"Brings a welcome breath of gunpowder-tinged air to epic fantasy."―Anthony Ryan
About the Author
Brian now lives on the side of a mountain in Utah with his wife, Michele, where he writes books and nurses a crippling video game addiction.
Top customer reviews
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The characters could be a bit more developed, but they're all very likable and I cared for their fate. The writing is decent, simple and the pacing extraordinary. The book, although long, flashes by and many times I just couldn't close the kindle app without reading another chapter.
There are of course some problems. Some plot points require the characters to make somewhat unbelievable errors of judgment. The protagonist, especially, who is supposed to be a tactical genius both in and out of the battlefield is quite frankly, not very smart and spends the whole book getting himself into dangerous situations, being caught off guard or entrapped and making very bad decisions. I still liked “old” Tamas, but good Lord, he could be a bit “wiser”.
The book could also benefit from fleshing out the characters. The author seems too preoccupied with pacing and sometimes relationships evolve almost “outside” the page and I missed some more depth both in the characters and even in the world. The world created here is very promising but once the author established “the powers” of the characters, there's some bits about the antagonists “kingdom” and a lot is only alluded to. But of course this is only the first book so some leeway must be afforded.
I will, no doubt, continue the series and look forward to the next book. Such well written, entertaining adventures are not easy to find and I am completely hooked.
On the positives... for the most part, I think Brian McClellan writes well. His world is interesting and unique, while still having some of the tried and true elements of fantasy that many of us are used to. The magic system is apparent, but not heavy-handed or repeatedly forced down our throats. For the most part, I think he handles it very well, and it is woven into the story without being distracting or tedious.
On the areas for improvement...
Characters: The character development feels a little thin, and I generally don't find myself caring much about any of them. The character I ultimately was the most interested in (Olem), really only had a supporting role. Next to him came Ka-Poel, who by the end has developed into a very interesting character, but much of her is still shrouded in mystery. Next, Taniel, who seems interesting, but we need more. Then Tamas and the rest who seem mostly two-dimensional and largely uninteresting. Their motives are largely plain and clear, their actions lack complexity. They just sort of do what I expect and we keep moving on.
Too many characters: Probably part of the issue in the character development is that there are simply too many named players in this book. I often find myself reading about someone for several paragraphs before realizing, "Oh, this is the person from XXX who did YYY. Wasn't that like 100 pages ago? I totally forgot about them." I understand and appreciate that the story has an epic scope, but every author has to know their limits, and I think this one was overshot.
Pacing/Length: The story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but honestly... barely. I would faithfully return to the book every night, but took each and every chapter marker as an accomplishment, and almost invariably put the book down for the night at each one. It honestly just felt like there was way too much in the book that either didn't move the story, didn't add a whole lot, or didn't move things along fast enough. I expect this is partially due to my not caring too much about any of the characters, but that gets into a bit of a circular discussion.
Interestingly, occasionally Brian McClellan would seriously jump on the throttle. The pacing was fast-paced and exciting, but it was SO fast that I often felt like I had no idea what had just happened and had to back up and re-read it. I quite enjoyed these sections as they were counter to the general plodding feel of the piece, but it was like driving in the fast line at 40MPH for 5 hours and suddenly granny floors it and barrels into whatever car happened to be in front of her.
Addiction in the rule system: The addiction risk in the rule system was very frequently waved in front of us, but I never got any real sense of danger fro this because it never really seemed to happen to anyone... or if it did, I missed it. I think this was an unfortunate missed opportunity in a lot of ways, and ultimately made the mechanic tired and boring.
HOWEVER... all this said... the book eventually got REALLY interesting. (too late, IMO, but it did do it) AND... in now starting his second book (because his ending was enough for me to say "Ok, he CAN do this..."), I find that the next book is interesting, much better paced, more focused and all in all much harder to put down.
It's tough to find good authors these days, particularly if you're critical like I am. That's why I say Brian McClellan's Promise of Blood is a bit of a slog to get through, but ultimately worth the time.
This is BM’s first book and so while very good you could definitely see his potential to grow. There were a few minor issues I had just with understanding some of the motivations of the characters and a few things going to easily or swinging in extremes easily. But again they were only minor and I am sure that it is something he will get better at in future books.
Really you could say that this book is about a father and a son, deep at the heart of it. But it just so happens that the father has just killed the king and taken over an entire kingdom and the son has returned from abroad to help with the aftermath. Tamas is an intriguing character to me. He killed a king and many of the nobility besides, he isn’t an evil man by any means but he is definitely not a good man either. He knows the cost of the choices he is making but he is making those choices anyway. I do like that he isn’t blindly stumbling and knows the cost of all of his decisions. He is a hard man.
*** Tamas took them all in with his gaze. “The people want blood right now, not words. They’ve wanted it for years. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. That’s why we came together to pull Manhouch from his throne. I’m going to give them blood. A lot of it. So much it will sicken them, choke them. Then my soldiers will funnel them toward the Samalian District, where they can loot the nobility’s houses and rape their daughters and kill their younger sons. I intend to let them choke on their madness. ***
Now that he has taken over the city he needs to consolidate his power but that is hard to do when there are many who appose him and someone who is trying to sabotage him.
Taniel has been away for awhile to other lands and has finally returned to his home. He has brought with him Ka-Poel one of the savages from that land. She is mute and seems to have magic of some kind but even Taniel doesn’t understand the extent of it. I did like these two together, they have a nice bond and it was cute to see a small girl acting much like a bodyguard for Taniel
*** She made the shape of a woman with her hands.
“Julene?” She nodded and bared her teeth.
“I don’t like her either. She could have gotten us all killed against that Privileged. Even a Privileged— especially a Privileged— should know you don’t just walk up to one of them and think you’re going to get the drop. She acts like she knows she’s going to win every fight.”
Ka-poel pointed a finger at him. Taniel chuckled. “Me? I do know I’m going to win every fight.” ***
I got caught up in the story, world and magic that was happening. I love the idea of Gods returning to the world and the danger that will bring with it. There was the main arc of this story which was trying to stop the return of god Kresimer but then there was the set up of the greater arcs of differing factions moving pieces on the board with agenda’s of their own. There is even a murder mystery thrown in to boot.
Like with Sanderson books you can expect a magical system of sorts with rules for different classes of mages. There are also religions, cultures and ancient civilizations involved.
I like that while we get a clear resolution to many of the plot lines for this book specifically there is just the foundation for the other arcs that will go through the entire series. At the end of this book I was ready to jump into the next one right away to find out how the people who made it through would fair. I’m pretty sure there are some bloody times coming soon and we are in for some hard deaths to come.
A really well done first book and I look forward to the rest of the series.
Most recent customer reviews
I'll start with the good, which is most of the series.Read more