Field Marshal Tamas has just led a coup against the crown, murdering the royal cabal and beheading the unfortunate king. What he didn’t count on was a member of the cabal, a ‘Privileged’ – a magician – warning him that Kressimer’s Promise could not be broken. Tamas isn’t too worried. As a Powder Mage (a magic user with the ability to bend gunpowder to his will) he is vital to a battle and is renowned for his talents and skill. He sends private investigator Adamat to research Kressimer’s Promise and what it might mean for the world. Meanwhile, Tamas’ son, Taniel ‘Two-Shot’, who is a Powder Mage almost as skilled as his father, travels with the savage but mysterious Ka-Poel, who has some unnamed magical ability of her own. They are out of the bustling and lively city of Adro and are chasing the last surviving Privileged of the royal cabal, a deadly opponent that leads them to discover she is working for an invading army. Tamas doesn’t realise what he’s unleashed onto the world until it is too late and he is betrayed. What follows is a race for information and close-quarter fighting in the streets, royalists setting up barricades akin to the fights during the French Revolution.
A foray in flintlock fantasy
Promise of Blood has a unique premise: a mixture of action, guns and magic. It’s a mature, complicated idea that works surprisingly well, making for a fascinating magic system unlike anything I’ve read. I could easily visualise this new world, even with magic that was slightly hazy at first. Brian McClellan uses wonderful descriptions of both the bustling city landscape and the characters. Think Les Miserables with narrow streets and magical, gun-wielding gentlemen.
It seems as if every single point of view character has a side kick, and this is in no way a bad thing, as they balance out the wonderful main characters. Adamat’s hired the boxer SouSmith, Tamas has a snarky and brilliant bodyguard and Taniel has my favourite character, Ka-Poel. She is a foreigner and is often shunned for being a ‘savage’ but her character is continually surprising. She is a mute and she has superb and devastating powers that no-one can comprehend. She cares deeply for Taniel and for some reasons finds him special: I’m sure we’ll find out more about who she is later on in the series and I can’t wait to see more of her. I think it’s inevitable a romantic relationship will bubble up between up between them and it’s going to be interesting to see how it will be executed and how they communicate. McClellan’s characters really hold their own and I think it’s brilliant that he has such a diverse cast.
Worth a read?
Despite a slow start Brian McClellan has created a convincing and believable world that successfully absorbs the reader. Between moments of political treachery and magical fights the plot thickens, and it seems that Tamas has opened a deadly Pandora’s Box upon the world. Of course there’s an exciting battle at the end and it sets up for more thrills in the next book in the trilogy, The Crimson Campaign, which I am very excited about. This is a fantastic book that’s exciting and unique – a perfect introduction to the fascinating world of flintlock fantasy. I can’t wait to catch up with the characters and see how the world – and magic – fares under the wrath of the gods. This is a genre I’m definitely looking forward to exploring more. The autho0r owns a copy of this book that can be purchased from any good bookshop.