Wow. What a tense, action-packed, intrigue-filled, story! While not without its (few) flaws, Promise of Blood is an extraordinary debut. So much about it was epic: revolution, religion, magic, world-building, family issues, addiction issues, mystery—and McClellan has managed to blend them all together completely and seamlessly.
This book sets a very high standard for *epic* flintlock fantasy.
And the characters! More wow. They're as far from cookie-cutter as you can get. McClellan brings them to life with unique perspectives on what is happening around them. Those that matter are completely fleshed-out and fascinatingly multilayered. Never do the multiple points of view confuse the reader or stop being interesting. (Though I wanted to knock a few of them upside the head now and then…)
The magic system receives an injection of originality and interest, though I might have liked to see better how and why a powder mages “works.” (Snorting or ingesting gun powder isn’t really a logical course of action to my way of thinking!)
The vivid story-telling wonderfully supports a fast-paced plot that gradually increases in tension and intrigue—and just plain human interest. I don’t often give five star ratings, but I find McClellan’s style and talent satisfying in ways that most authors never achieve.
The third and fourth books in the series are equally gripping, but lost a star each to both some slow sections and to increasing gore. Yes, I realize it’s hard to pull off a revolution without blood and guts, but I’m a fan of the technique that leads me up to a critical moment and lets me fill in what appears to be obvious with my own imagination.
Still a great addition to my bookshelf!
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