Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 78/200
Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
Finished on 5/20/2018
The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.
Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.
Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.
Genres: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Military Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, High Fantasy, Powder Mage, Gods of Blood and Powder
A Kick-ass followup to a fantastic new series
I loved this!
To be honest I didn’t really like ‘Sins of Empire,’ so I wasn’t really looking forward to this. Where ‘Sins’ had a slow start, this book is fast paced from first to last. ‘Wrath’ starts right on the heels of the first book, with Mikel, Ben and Vlora frantically chasing the remaining two Godstones and trying to keep them out of the hands of the Dynese.
The most marked improvement in this book compared with the first was it’s characterization. In terms of characterization, I think Ben had the best characterization. He must come to terms with the hypocrisy of his previous bloodthirsty life and his new status as an adoptive father.
None of the characters were boring to read about, which is key. However I would have liked more emotional development from all the characters. McClellan is more of a plot-oriented writer instead of a characterization writer, but while this book wasn’t as good as I would have liked it was better than a lot of his previous novels. In future novels I would like to see McClellan slow down a bit and have a few contemplative scenes where his characters can breathe and *not* advance the plot, and instead just be people.
The plot is by far this novel’s strongest point. We have three different plots going on simultaneously. Mikel is trying to destroy the Fatrastrans and the Dynese simultaneously. Ben is trying to help recover one of the godstones, and is racing against the Fatrastrans to get it. Vlora is trying to recover the other godstone and is racing against the Dynese to get it. I think Mikel had the best plot. Mikel must become a double(triple?) agent against the Dynese government, trying to extract a secret agent from within the Dynese government.
The Pacing was always flying at light speed. With regular battles to spice up events, the story never lulled. My one complaint is that it was too fast. Sometimes you need to slow things down and let the characters breathe. The biggest problem was the iffy-climax. It just didn’t work for me.
Constructive Criticism: Okay, to start off with I need to admit that I’m not a big fan of McGuffin Plots, and by definition the Godstones are gigantic McGuffins. A McGuffin is defined as an object crucial to the plot which none of the characters (or the audience) cares about. For example the Maltise Falcon is a McGuffin because it’s just an expensive statue. The One Ring is not a McGuffin because Frodo and Bilbo are emotionally invested in taking care of it.
The Godstones in this book are gigantic rocks. None of the characters in this book are emotionally invested in the godstones, and neither am I. They’re rocks. magic rocks to be sure, but rocks.
Highly recommended, if you read ‘Sins of Empire.’ This fits into a similar brain-space as Brandon Sanderson’s work for me- except I think McClellan has better plotting while Sanderson has better characterization.