‘Promise of Blood’ by Brian McClellan

Mount Readmore Book Review 2018, 162/200


Audiobook Edition

Finished on 12/1/2018


Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Steampunk, Flintlocke Fantasy, Powder Mage

God is dead, and I have killed him.

Spoiler-ific review

I can Recommend this book to any Fantasy fan.

One of the preeminent fantasy books of recent years, PROMISE OF BLOOD is a Flintlock Fantasy book which is styled after the Napoleonic Revolution in France. This is a re-read for me, after reading it three years ago or so.

This was a good story. After reading it years ago I was left with a good impression, and it led me to read the rest of this series and the next series as well. I decided to have a second go at it. It was about as good as I remembered.

Characters: Taniel is the most vividly depicted of the characters, struggling with a powder addiction, the betrayal of his fiance, the death of his mother as well as his affection for his ‘savage’ witchdoctor friend. The other POV characters are nearly as good: Inspector Adamant is struggling to keep his family alive despite threats from the criminal underworld; Tamas is trying to hold the city of Adipest together in the wake of Tamas executing it’s king and instituting a democratic republic; and Vlora is trying to get back in everyone’s good graces after making a mistake.

Plot: the plot for the first two thirds was very strong. Adamat is trying to solve an arcane riddle in the wake of Tamas’ palace coup, while Taniel is dealing with the last of the late king’s loyal sorcerers. However I felt that the third act twists were all very obvious, and not just obvious because I’ve read the book before. I did like the climax though.

Pacing: The book was never boring.

Constructive criticism time.

As is the case for a lot of the books I read, I don’t like ‘nobles vs. peasants’ plotlines, where the nobles hate everyone else because the rich are xenophobic. I find it trite, and several of the bad guys had this as their sole motivation. The author used this half-baked bit of characterization to make the bad guys easily hateable instead of investing some real work giving them more solid characterization. It made the bad guys seem like Mr. Twirly McMustache.

The plot tapered off in awesomeness in the last third. The plot of the first two thirds of the book were dominated by an enthralling set of mysteries (Who betrayed Tamas? What is Krezimere’s Promise?). The author solved those mysteries too soon, at about the 66-75% mark. Everything after that was just an action set piece of characters fighting. It was good combat, but it was plot light. I wish the author revealed the betrayer later on/didn’t solve it entirely in this book.

The book doesn’t stand on it’s own. It’s very obviously the first book in a series. I would have liked if the first book existed on more solid solo footing.

And that’s it in terms of criticism. The book was good. It was by no means perfect, but I can broadly recommend it to just about anyone. It is not as good as the Gods of Blood and Powder series, but it is nonetheless still enjoyable.



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