Book Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

I guess I’ll start off this review by saying that I’m a filthy savage who still haven’t gotten on board with e-readers. Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy first popped up on my radar at the start of 2014. I fruitlessly attempted to track down a physical copy of the book for a few months. When I finally did manage to pick it up, I got about halfway through before I set it down again for other reads. I’ve finally finished the last half of the first novel in the Powder Mage trilogy.  Based off of this opening paragraph, you might think that I did not care for Promise of Blood.

That would be a huge mistake. First of all, I love the premise of the world. Two out of the four point of view characters are a refreshing change from all the prophesied farm boys saving the world and grumpy anti-heroes. Secondly, the brief hiatus during my read was mostly due to the pacing. McClellan alternates between bouts of tension building and action like an amusement park ride. McClellan just had the bad luck that I had stopped reading for a time on a chapter that was more rising and less action.

The action and the twists that take place in the book are fairly compelling. The two viewpoint characters that I was most invested in were Tamas, the leader of the coup that fells a monarchy, and Adamat, an investigator with an eidetic memory who Tamas contracts to solve something at the beginning of the novel.  By far, my favorite viewpoint character was Adamat. Adamat filled a sort of Columbo or Inspector Poirot type role in the novel, and it felt like his chapters did the most to move the plot towards its real action.

Tamas’s son Taniel is the third main viewpoint character, but unfortunately he felt the most like a generic fantasy type character in contrast with the creative world that McClellan has created for his characters. Despite being a veteran of conflict in a foreign conflict, Taniel Two-Shot, as he’s known, just didn’t do much to grab my attention, and it seems that most of his chapters were the ones that built up toward the climax of the novel. And then there was Nila. I kept waiting for something to culminate from her viewpoints, but mostly it feels like her story line and plot thread are just bridging into the future volumes.

So now for the paragraph that pretty much everyone skips to for any review ever, thus ensuring that the final opinion of a reviewer always appears at the end and never the beginning. Promise of Blood is a fine first entry in a trilogy. It provides a fresh premise, and the final action in the last few chapters kept me turning the pages until the very end. I had been on the fence about grabbing the next book in the series until I got to the final act, now, I’ll just be along for the ride.

-Crouse

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