Promise of Blood (The Powder Mage, #1) by Brian McClellan
Hits the Sweet Spot
Some epic fantasies try too hard to be fantastical. Too many characters, too many weird names, too much rambling detail.
Others don’t try hard enough to be awesome. They settle for using the same old types and tropes that we are all comfortable with. They are content to be average.
Unfortunately for them, average is the enemy of excellence.
Promise of Blood, the first book in the Powder Mage trilogy, hits the sweet spot in between.
It’s a long book that is epic in scope, with lots of characters living in a big, made up world. This author manages to keep the details interesting without ruining the adventure with unnecessary fluff.
It did take a hundred pages or so to really feel fluent with the characters. It helped that I stopped reading Promise of Blood to read the six prequel novellas, which I recommend to anyone who reads Promise of Blood. They give the back stories for all the main characters , and introduce you to some minor characters as well. For me, they turned the characters of the story in to people I cared to read about.
The story is awesome. A world with multiple unique magic systems, set in a civilization just breaking into the industrial age. Think the civil war combined with Sanderson-esc magic. Black powder muskets and bayonets, God’s and armies, kings and revolutions.
As great as the story is, the people are even better. For a while it’s hard to be sure who are the good guys and who are the bad guys…often it’s hard to tell the difference. All these characters are flawed–and that makes them perfect.
That’s the sweet spot. Nothing average here.