Mount Readmore Book Review, 2017 34/100
Sins of Empire By Brian McClellan
Audiobook Edition, Narrator: Christian Rodska
Finished on 4/2/2017
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Military Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Colonialism, Political Chicanery
Grab Your Hrush Rifles and Get Ready for War! Secrets Uncounted Swirl in the Colonial Land of Fatrasta, and 1 POW, 1 Mercenary General, and 1 Member of the Secret Police Must Puzzle Them All Out Before the Danger Overwhelms them out of 5
The Gods are dead- and the race is on to make a new one. The Godstone is found and now the Empires of Fratrasta and Dynise covet it. This is the first book of a new trilogy set in the same setting as the Powder Mage Trilogy. ‘Sins of Empire’ has a slow start but quickly becomes enthralling.
Fratrasta is a colony which has long since freed itself from the colonizing nation of Kez, and now functions on its own. Think something like Brazil after it was released/freed from Portugal. This book takes place in Landfall, the capital city of Fratrasta. While Landfall is an interesting city, it didn’t really live and breathe like some fantasy cities I’ve read. If I were to give constructive criticism, Landfall didn’t carry its weight. (I think physical settings are one of McClellan’s weaknesses, because I had the same complaints about Adro and Kez.) I want to know what the local plantlife is like! The local foods! The architecture! But McClellan provides none of that beyond one or two details.
Fratrasta is enmeshed in constant civil wars due to a rebellious native population and the cruel dictator. The restive locals are pitted against the Black Hat secret police who are pitted against the Dynise invaders, and no one knows who is loyal to whom. Backstabbing and betrayal ensues. The political chicanery was fun to read and speculate about, and there were several unexpected twists which I enjoyed.
The Characterization was pretty good, but not excellent. We get Vlora as a holdover from the last book, and she’s become a hard old mercenary General in the decade since. That’s great! But she had no real character development during this book and she made a stupid decision when she let Landfall’s dictator go free which is out of character for her. That’s not great. Ben Styke is a fun new character but he too doesn’t change in the course of this book. Also he unrealistically is able to get up and walk away from almost any form of damage, which bugged me. Michel is the final main character, and he does experience character development through the course of the novel, so consequently he was my favorite character.
Net total, this book was a fun ride with a sequel hook ending. I can’t say in good faith that this was as good as any one book in The Powder Mage trilogy. I liked the plot more in this book than the others because I like political chicanery, but the characterization and setting here was worse than the previous three books by a fair margin. If you are a fan of the series, please give this book a whirl. You’ll love it. But I don’t think this is as good a book as Promise of Blood. So if you want to start the series, start there.
Audiobook notes: Rodska did an excellent job.