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  1. #1
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    Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

    "The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

    It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
    Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.
    It's up to a few...
    Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

    But when gods are involved...
    Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should.."



    Promise of Blood is an excellent debut that mixes and matches stuff - magic and technology, intrigue and action, individual fights and battles, worker unions and ancient nobility, gods, sorcerers, magicians, well sketched world building with promise of expansion, memorable characters - most notable Tamas who is the main driver of the action - but the rest too, all in a fast moving, occasionally over the top package that one cannot put down.

    While not quite yet at Brent Weeks level of "compelling" the novel has some similarities in "feel", but it has much more magic overall.

    Starting with the actual coup of Tamas against the king and nobility, the action continues fast and furious on a few fronts. Tamas has to consolidate his and his 6 very disparate but powerful allies rule, while dealing with an unexpected royalist counter-attack, grasping neighbors that covet Adro's wealth and potential as well as with powerful magicians with varied interests; not to speak of a famous curse/prophecy that has the god Kresimir who created the Nine Kingdoms some 1400 yeas ago return and smite anyone who would overthrow one of the kings.

    As the people of Adro actually did that (overthrowing the king) since most follow Tamas as they show in the famous "elections" day - what the "elections" mean I will let you discover - this means that the angry Kresimir - if he exists of course - will destroy the whole country. Of course it then helps to have a god of your own, even though he may be quite mad.

    In the other two main strands, Inspector Adamat investigates stuff for Tamas, this essentially being a vehicle to show life in Adro and its capital as well as the various factions and power players, from another "street" angle as well as delve into the world building from a historical point of view, while Taniel "Two Shot", Tamas' son and second most powerful "powder mage" after the marshal himself, has to contend with the sorcerous threats to his father's rule, while dealing with personal problems, un-trustful allies and the like.

    A great ending at a good stopping point though of course the story just gets started.

    Overall a winning debut who will make my top 25 and a series I expect will get only better as it progresses

  2. #2
    Creator of Worlds sullivan_riyria's Avatar
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    I'm glad you liked it - and thought you would. I thought it an interesting concept well executed - I think it will do well.

  3. #3
    I'm glad to hear good stuff about this one. It's been on my radar for a while, but I don't usually like to mix my fantasy with gunpowder (or tech in general). This one is compelling me to make an exception though.

  4. #4
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    I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  5. #5
    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    I would love a copy for review, but have so much on my plate right now. Not sure how soon I could get to it. Sounds really good though as we tend to have similar tastes.


    Just received a review copy. Hoping to get to this one soon. Want to read Grim Company too. Decisions, decisions.
    Last edited by DurzoBlint; March 15th, 2013 at 12:18 PM.

  6. #6
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    A mixed review by Stefan Raets @ Far Beyond Reality and TOR.com -

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/04/gun...rian-mcclellan

    In terms of structure and pace, Promise of Blood is uneven. After the initial coup and subsequent civil war, the novel takes off in a different direction. At that point, it feels like the story stops, reboots, and then lurches off again, but despite the heightened stakes it often lacks the tension of the initial section. The perspective changes frequently: coup leader Tamas, his son Taniel, investigator Adamat, a young laundress. Some of the threads feel unnecessarily drawn out, while others are rushed. Some sections simply lack any kind of tension. Promise of Blood frequently feels a bit directionless.
    Less promising: when Adamat is sending his family to safety, he thinks: “Damned woman. What he’d give for an obedient wife.” When Tamas is dealing with the aftermath of the coup, part of his battle plan includes this: “Then my soldiers will funnel them towards the Samalian district, where they can loot the nobility’s houses and rape their daughters[...]”

    Taniel’s former fiancee Vlora is one of the only female powder mages in the novel, but spends most of the novel silently off-camera. I expect this may change in the next book in the trilogy. Still: strong, positive female characters are few and far between in Promise of Blood.
    I’m not entirely sure yet whether I’m interested in reading further into this trilogy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers feel differently and make this a highly successful debut.
    I have lowered my expectations after this review
    Last edited by Symbolic; April 8th, 2013 at 08:04 PM.

  7. #7
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    Another review by Nick Sharps @ SFSIGNAL -

    http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/201...ian-mcclellan/

  8. #8
    Jack Bauer Bastard's Avatar
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    Finished it last night, and really enjoyed it.

  9. #9
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    And just in case you haven't seen it, Rob's review for SFFWorld is here: http://www.sffworld.com/brevoff/940.html
    Mark

  10. #10
    I have about 60 pages to go.

    And after a strong start filled with lots of potential, as the story progresses the plot loses a lot of its initial appeal and I'm not sure what I think of this book as we speak. Hopefully the finale will raise the bar to what it was at the beginning of Promise of Blood. . .

    Patrick

  11. #11
    Jack Bauer Bastard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pat5150 View Post
    I have about 60 pages to go.

    And after a strong start filled with lots of potential, as the story progresses the plot loses a lot of its initial appeal and I'm not sure what I think of this book as we speak. Hopefully the finale will raise the bar to what it was at the beginning of Promise of Blood. . .

    Patrick
    Yep, I agree with that sentiment. But I'm overlooking a lot of those issues at the moment, I feel it's a great start nonetheless, and love the characters and the magic.

  12. #12
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    Promise of Blood is a series that could very well knock George R. R. Martin off his throne
    Yes,this reviewer is actually being serious when he says this.

    http://speculativebookreview.blogspo...-by-brian.html


    Anyway,i finished this today.Overall,it was a flawed debut.Could not really connect with any of the main characters except Taniel and Ka-poel.The rest of the cast needed to be fleshed out more.

    The single female POV was unmemorable and a bit unnecessary,so much so that for the life of me i can't even recall her name right now.I felt her story arc added nothing to the book.

    I also found the magic system to be not as complex as some others.

    Overall,i'm not very eager to read the 2nd book,though if i do read it,it shall be only because i want to find out about the fates of Taniel and Ka-poel.

    I give this 6.5/10
    Last edited by Symbolic; April 19th, 2013 at 10:23 AM.

  13. #13
    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Symbolic View Post
    Yes,this reviewer is actually being serious when he says this.

    http://speculativebookreview.blogspo...-by-brian.html

    Wonder who that reviewer could be?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Symbolic View Post
    Yes,this reviewer is actually being serious when he says this.

    http://speculativebookreview.blogspo...-by-brian.html


    Anyway,i finished this today.Overall,it was a flawed debut.Could not really connect with any of the main characters except Taniel and Ka-poel.The rest of the cast needed to be fleshed out more.

    The single female POV was unmemorable and a bit unnecessary,so much so that for the life of me i can't even recall her name right now.I felt her story arc added nothing to the book.

    I also found the magic system to be not as complex as some others.

    Overall,i'm not very eager to read the 2nd book,though if i do read it,it shall be only because i want to find out about the fates of Taniel and Ka-poel.

    I give this 6.5/10
    Have to agree with your assessment. . . :/

    Patrick

  15. #15
    Jack Bauer Bastard's Avatar
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    Well, personally I loved the novel. Most of the complaints described above are very minor to me and easy to overcome. I really loved all the characters, except Nila who just about everyone agrees was a bit of a waste. But overall I found it to be a very strong debut, with a cool magic system, some cool action, great pace and some very good dialogue.

    And come on, Olem was awesome too.

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