REVIEW SUMMARY: McCellan’s second Powder Mage novel expands the canvas of the story in a welcome and engaging manner.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: The repercussions of Promise of Blood echo forward, as Tamas strikes into Kez even as political events back in Adopest (and an angry god) threaten to overwhelm the promise of his revolution.
PROS: Engaging story of the main protagonist; excellent set pieces; tight writing.
CONS: Some choices in POV characters remain something of a lost opportunity.
BOTTOM LINE: A solid follow-up to The Crimson Campaign that keeps the momentum of the series.
Brian McClellan, author of The Crimson Campaign, joins John Anealio and Patrick Hester this week on The Functional Nerds Podcast.
Listen below, or at The Functional Nerds, or subscribe to The Functional Nerds Podcast through iTunes.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the country of Adro, overthrowing a corrupt King is only the beginning of the problems facing powder mage Field Marshal Tamas.
PROS: Interesting magic systems; good exploration of underused tech and social level; Muskets and Magic!
CONS: Significant problems with female characters.
BOTTOM LINE: An intriguing if imperfect debut novel.
The King is dead. A corrupt, incompetent and venal King, a tottering monarchy that bleeds its people dry. Field Marshal Tamas has, in a bold stroke, decapitated the monarchy, intending on setting up a more oligarchic form of government. However, there are plenty of royalists to worry about, including a significant fraction of the true mages, quite unlike the powder mage that Tamas is. A prophecy suggests that regicide may be a curse worse than the disease, and a neighboring country looks to take advantage of Adro’s weakness. And there are stranger things afoot. Field Marshal Tamas is going to learn that killing the King was the *easy* part.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A missed chance for something greater.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: For Field Marshal Tamas, overthrowing his corrupt and out-of-touch King was the easy part. Now Tamas must hold the country together with a traitor in his midst and a foreign army at the doorstep. Still a greater threat looms near, ready to engulf the entire world.
PROS: Makes good use of the inclusion of gunpowder; updates fantasy themes; some decent action.
CONS: Lack of strong female characters; weak magic system; failure to capitalize on new ground.
BOTTOM LINE: There’s an opportunity for McClellan to tread the road less traveled but Promise of Blood remains a rather traditional fantasy.
I’ve been sitting on this review for a week now. I can’t really start a new book until I expel the last one from my system in the cathartic act of the review. Usually I finish a book and have my impressions written down by the next day at the latest. It took that long to figure out what I wanted to say about Promise of Blood. It’s not even that Brian McClellan’s debut novel is bad – that review would be easier to write. The problem is that there are some great ideas that aren’t fully realized. The bones of a different breed of fantasy are in place, but Promise of Blood opts out for the safe approach.
Writer Brian McClellan began writing Wheel of Time roleplaying fiction in his teens, and has been writing every since. Living in Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and bees. Lots of bees. Promise of Blood, out from Orbit in April 2013, is his first novel and the first in The Powder Mage Trilogy.
Brian kindly sat down to answer some questions about his work.
Paul Weimer: Who is Brian McClellan?
Brian McClellan: Brian McClellan is a lot of things.
I’m a husband; I’ve been married a little over five years to the love of my life. I’m a geek; I read science fiction and fantasy, play far too many computer games like Civilization and Skyrim, and host a small tabletop gaming group every few weeks. I’m a beekeeper; I started my first honey bee hive last spring and harvested ninety pounds of honey last fall.
I’m also an author. My debut epic fantasy, Promise of Blood, is being released internationally by Orbit Books in April. I’ve been writing since high school (probably about ten years now) and have told myself since freshman year of college that I’d someday make my living writing fantasy novels.