BOOK REVIEW: ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE BY ROBIN HOBB

Oh gosh, I feel like I haven’t written up an actual book review in so long so don’t judge, I feel a little rough around the edges!

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Assassin’s Apprentice:

  • Title: Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Series: The Farseer Trilogy (Book One) and First trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings series.
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 401

I read Assassin’s Apprentice on my Kindle which is currently only £2.99 on Amazon! I do plan to buy physical copies too!

Synopsis:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. 

AVAILABLE FROM: | WHSMITH | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA | BLACKWELL’S | WATERSTONES

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Review:

As it is with the well established series of the fantasy genre, and even more so ones of this magnitude, there are always tonnes of opinions. What the book did wrong, how it depressed some readers, how it was slow but amazing or any number of other comments. So it is more than likely you will see some similar views within this review but I like talking and reviewing books so I’m still going to write this despite what I have just said 😀

As we can see I’m pretty late to the Robin Hobb party but I don’t think it is a book I could have tackled any earlier. I had this trilogy on my TBR for a while but always veered away from it because I knew it was an older fantasy book and a classic. Though, I can safely say that I am happy I joined the Hobb party no matter how late.

So Assassin’s Apprentice has some fairly long chapters, at one point I was tired and thought ‘Ohhh I’ll just read to the end of the chapter’. Ummmm, no. I quickly looked how long it was and was like ‘nope, I can’t do it. I can’t make it that long’ 😂 

Straight off the bat, I knew I would love Hobb’s writing style. It is soo stunningly written, and being told her other trilogies only get better is amazing and has be insanely excited. 

With writing like Hobbs it often goes hand in hand with immense world building and this book is no exception. Hobb treats you to such detailed and colourful world building, there wasn’t a time I didn’t feel utterly involved in the book, in both larger scale plot events and smaller interactions.

One thing I really loved about this book was the time spent with Fitz as he grew up, I really enjoy these starts to a book and this one kinda reminded me of Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. Now, I know this came out first but I read Blood Song first, so if I say it reminds me of Blood Song just take that as it is, ok? Ok. I loved Blood Song, so as soon as I met a young nameless boy being carted off to somewhere other than what he thought was his home and be thrust into the unknown I was eager! Even more so for this tale to begin the way it did with the snippets of narrator texts (again reminded me of Blood Song) it was already off to an amazing start.

Though, while I mention this and as I said I enjoy these beginnings because we see incredible character developments it does make for a far slower pace. This isn’t really an issue for me, least all in a first book but I know it may be for some people.

Hobb has done a damned fine job at building an incredible collection of characters. I loved the depth of Fitz as a character, he had so much personality and as a reader you genuinely felt a whole range of emotions. What made him even more intriguing was the fact that he never truly showed anyone himself wholly, he always kept something from someone! It provided a lot of options for the book, is he going to slip up with one person, tell the wrong person something they don’t know, show them a side of him he simply cannot? It is brilliantly written.

You do spend a lot of time in Fitz’s head, and this isn’t really a bad thing but i did find myself at times hoping for a character interaction and not getting one. 

This story goes far beyond Fitz alone, you become invested in nearly all the characters and Hobb both gives you the goods and doesn’t. Chivalry for instance, isn’t a character we got more from and I really wanted to see more of him, but where this is the case Hobb seamlessly interweaves the characters relationship to him to satisfy it. We see the way Burrich thinks of him, and the level of loyalty he shows, this alone shows us more into Chivalry’s character. His relationship with his brother and with Patience. It is quite masterfully done, we create a relationship with a character who isn’t even there so imagine the goods you get from those we do come into contact with.

Now, I don’t often mention magic systems in my reviews, I probably should because the are an intrinsic part of the fantasy genre but honestly I don’t feel qualified in magic systems yet having not read some of the leading ones of the genre. That’s not to say I don’t have an opinion on them but you won’t get me talking about hard magic or rule based ones and so forth. Buuuuut, saying all that I am going to say how much I liked the magic in this book. We have Wit and Skill and they are so simple in nature yet the way Hobb weaves them into the plot and the characters development just puts them a step above others I have read. Hobb also teases us with the potential for these magics to play a far greater role in the future books of the trilogy.

Overall, I am so impressed with this book and have already started the next book. I am reading them considerably slower than usual but that is more to do with a busier schedule than anything but I am almost grateful for it as the time I am giving these books when I can is that much more treasured.


Book Review: Morning Star by Pierce Brown

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Morning Star:

  • Title: Morning Star
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Series: Red Rising Saga (Book Three)
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

This is going to be a fairly short review, or at least I think it will be but I can talk for England so you never know. But back to it, what was I saying? Ahh yes, this is going to be shorter review because I am just saying the same bloodydamn things I have said previously.

So, lets get to it ey.

“Drills hot”…

“Helmets up. Let’s burn.”

In Morning Star the journey continues, Pierce Brown forges on, causing me to lose out on much needed sleep, be in a constant state of distress and ignore all other aspects of life.

I have said it before, but I will say it again, I find these types of books really hard to write a review for. They are such a ride, you barely seem to have a minute to comprehend what you have just been a part of.

”Life’s not just a matter of breathing, it’s a matter of being.”

This book has so much, and stays true to its previous themes of loyalty, friendship, family and fighting the oppressive regime that is their life. Pierce Brown continues to show us that he is a brilliant storyteller, with so much emotion and yes heartache. He has managed to continuously raise the stakes with each book, while remaining totally unpredictable and all the while we grow to love the characters even more. 

I did like however that Pierce doesn’t keep all his characters the same. In Morning Star we see them make some questionable decisions and see how they and those around them further develop. Sometimes that development doesn’t go the way you want it to but these are all consequences of the events that have come about. 

”And if we fall, others will take our place, because we are the tide. And we are rising.”

Pierce’s writing continues to bestow upon us his brilliantly provocative, sharp and precise storytelling. It disturbs and it enrages, it is joyous and it is hilarious. He gives us everything.

I am not alone.

I am not his victim.

So let him do his worst.

I am the Reaper. I know how to suffer.

I know the darkness.

This is not how it ends.”

I was totally satisfied with this conclusion. It is hard to explain how epic and amazing this book is without going into spoilers because it, in many cases for me, was the individual events and battles both large and small that really wow’d me. Pierce does justice to all his characters in life and in death. His characters have to work to get their end results and they have to work bloodydamn hard, it is these moments that shine to me!

”Everything is cracked, everything is stained except the fragile moments that hang crystalline in time and make life worth living.”

You will not be disappointed by this series! I know I wasn’t! 

Like I said, short…ish.

Thanks for reading!


Book Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Golden Son:

  • Title: Golden Son
  • Author: Pierce Brown
  • Series: Red Rising Saga (Book Two)
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
  • Pages: 430

Synopsis:

As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within. 

A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people. 

He must live for more. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

”They go with the wind, chasing power. But they don’t realize power doesn’t shift. Power is resolute. It is the mountain, not the wind. To shift so easily is to lose trust. And trust is what has kept me alive. Trust in my friends, and their trust in me.”

My first thought to you. READ THIS TRILOGY.

If you are reading this you may have read Red Rising, or you may not have and you are looking for some potential to seal the deal, nudge you over the edge and get you to pick up Red Rising from your TBR. So, again READ THIS TRILOGY. It is amazing.

Anywho, moving on…

So, I’m writing this review having read the third book already and I can safely say that this is an amazing five star read and my favourite book of the trilogy! It was phenomenal! And because of that I will no doubt really struggle to review this book! It is one of the books that you cannot stop reading, there is no time to stop and breath! You are so utterly caught up in the whirlwind that is the book and its characters that you don’t stop until its complete and even then it’s barely for a minute because you pick up the next book.

“Through the thorns to the stars,”

Pierce. Pierce. Pierce. What a storyteller you are. It is always great to see that a writer is versatile, and truly talented and Pierce is, without a doubt. He continues to wow with his ability to show the beauty of the world while also demonstrating the cut-throat savagery that fills it. However, he also manages to really break you. Golden Son is filled with harsh betrayals, unwanted revelations and gut-wrenching moments. Pierce shows he is not limited to one tone and excels in making us feel so much for past events, new motivations and more twists and turns. 

Hic sunt leones. Here be lions.” 

I felt sorrow, disgust, happiness, shame and so much more. The writing of this trilogy is brilliant.

Golden Son is so different to Red Rising, and in a good way, the plot intensifies and escalates greatly! It is no longer a just a game, or at least it isn’t to some, things are in motion that simply cannot be stopped. One just has to go with it and hope for the best. Darrow faces so much, with the list of those he can trust diminishing and his enemies endlessly increasing this is a fast paced and utterly scintillating follow up to Red Rising. 

Golden Son is filled with epic and bloody battles, amazing revelations and beautiful moments.I enjoyed everything about this book.

“For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down.” 

We also get to see more of the world that Darrow and his friends live in, for better and for worse, and it is fully mesmerising. 

Pierce continues to grow and develop his characters, and I only grew to love them or in some cases hate them even more, though Pierce does not limit you to one end of the spectrum! No. He gives us such a depth to his characters that not all can be loved or hated. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and things they hold dear to them, ideals that guid them in their decisions both in favour of Darrow and against him. 

We also see some new characters in this instalment, and I LOVED them! Ragnar. Oh, Ragnar. What a character. I found myself utterly attached to him, among others. And Sevro continuous in all of his awesomeness!

“I’m Gold, bitch. What’d you expect? Warm milk and cookies just because I’m pocket sized?” 

I really recommend these books, they are appropriate for both readers new to the Sci-Fi genre and those who have loved it fora time. The writing is sharp and exciting, the world is altogether compelling  and the characters are outright incredible.

“Rise so high, in mud you lie.” 

OTHER QUOTES I LOVED…

”We were scrawny, innocent things then. How could such a frail girl as she have such a spirit, such a dream as freedom, when so many strong souls toiled and kept their heads down for fear of looking up?”

“But this is why I was made. To dive into hell.”

”Thoughts like his belong to the age I am trying to destroy.”

”It takes only one truth to bring a kingdom of lies crashing down.”

“He has to play my game!” Sevro says. “Shithead isn’t getting out till he plays nice. I’ll give him a riddle instead. “What do I have in my pocket?”

Friendships take minutes to make, moments to break, years to repair.”

“I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind – how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.” 


Book Review: Ruin by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Ruin:

  • Title: Ruin
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Three)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 768

Synopsis:

The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures. At his back stands the scheming Calidus and a warband of the Kadoshim, dread demons of the Otherworld. They plan to bring Asroth and his host of the Fallen into the world of flesh, but to do so they need the seven treasures. Nathair has been deceived but now he knows the truth. He has choices to make, choices that will determine the fate of the Banished Lands.

Elsewhere the flame of resistance is growing – Queen Edana finds allies in the swamps of Ardan. Maquin is loose in Tenebral, hunted by Lykos and his corsairs. Here he will witness the birth of a rebellion in Nathair’s own realm.

Corban has been swept along by the tide of war. He has suffered, lost loved ones, sought only safety from the darkness. But he will run no more. He has seen the face of evil and he has set his will to fight it. The question is, how? With a disparate band gathered about him – his family, friends, giants, fanatical warriors, an angel and a talking crow he begins the journey to Drassil, the fabled fortress hidden deep in the heart of Forn Forest. For in Drassil lies the spear of Skald, one of the seven treasures, and here it is prophesied that the Bright Star will stand against the Black Sun. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

Well, shit. John Gwynne does not mess around with this instalment.

In relation to the plot of Ruin and its progression, Gwynne does amazing; we see so SOOO much more in this instalment and we see a lot of things from the previous book brought out into the open.

There are so many amazing scenes in this book, I found no complaints about the pace this book sets and it is an incredible continuation to this series again improving upon the other books.

I have actually read Wrath at the time of writing this and still can’t comprehend how to type up a review for it. I couldn’t help but read it seconds after completing Ruin, so for everyone who actually had to wait between books after that ending…I am so sorry.

As a member of my buddy read said, this book is very aptly named.

In Ruin you see more battles and more loss, but with each battle John Gwynne manages to fill it with tension. He so brilliantly raises the stakes each time and no battle seems repetitive. As we know, having read up to this point, John Gwynne does not shy away from killing characters. Now, some may dislike this and love the hero bubble that many authors wrap their characters in, but without this cut throat promise of death you would not feel the level of fear, adrenaline, courage or bravery each individual character goes through. 

As with the other books of this series with each one we see more character POV’s but not one of them is boring, each time you see a change of name you a new wave of excitement comes forth from where this person and their merry band are, what they are doing and who they will meet. 

When you thought you knew the characters and their personalities John Gwynne makes you love them even more. His characters are constantly growing both individually and together. Bonds of friends and paths deepening. Dath and Farell were a constant source of laughter for me with their mutterings in tense moments and insistance in calling the Seren Disglair seven disgraced instead. 

‘It’s not as simple as that,’ Meical said. ‘To be destroyed, the Treasures must all be gathered together.’

‘There’s always a catch with these things,’ Dath muttered. Coralen punched his shoulder.

As well Tahir and his bloody mum 😂 I tell you his mam said a lot, but these are all things that just add to these characters, making them real giving more meaning to their relationships. 

As with the other books of this series with each one we see more character POV’s but not one of them is boring, each time you see a change of name you a new wave of excitement comes forth from where this person and their merry band are, what they are doing and who they will meet. 

I will say it again, I have never cared for characters like the way these books make you before, and I would be surprised if I ever will from anyone other than John Gwynne. He is an absolute master.

“Still, can’t change the truth of things. Have t’bend with it. Better’n breaking.”


Review: Valour by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Valour:

  • Title: Valour
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and the Fallen Series (Book Two)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 669

I read Valour in paperback, but gods do I wish i had this beauty in hardcover!

Synopsis:

The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him. But Rhin is playing her own games and has her eyes on a far greater prize . . .

Left for dead – her kin have fled and her country is overrun with enemies – Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. They have no intention of letting such a prize slip from their grasp. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power. 

Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland with his exiled companions, heading for the only place that may offer them sanctuary. But to get there they must travel through Cambren, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban struggles to become the man that everyone believes him to be – the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands. 

Embroiled in struggles for power and survival, the mortal world is unaware of the greatest threat of all. In the Otherworld, dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all. 

(Goodreads)

Review:

If you were an absolute rockstar and read my review of Malice you will know that I enjoyed it immensely. As with Malice, this is probably going to heavy on the gushing and low on the critique. Ahhhh, who am I kidding? I found no faults with this book. Valour is the second book in The Faithful and the Fallen Series, and it was AMAZING! 

In my Malice review I said this series was likely to be my favourite one, and I can say that I still firmly stand by that statement.

John Gwynne does not disappoint, picking up pretty much straight after the ending of Malice, we plunge back into the world that is The Banished Lands. John Gwynne’s incredible writing style remains true in Valour, as he continues to wow with his intricate weaving of facts and simple but profound writing style.

Having read Malice and understanding the level of sly manoeuvrings and betrayals of its characters I was actually able to pick up more little hints of what was to come in this instalment. Now, you might think that a bad thing but I assure it wasn’t. Gwynne did this in such a way that you don’t necessarily notice the first breadcrumb or so, but then maybe three of four down the line something clicks and immediately you are itching to read more to get to what you think know will happen. Simple as these bread crumbs are they give you a whisper of hope, a chance that someone may realise the errors of their ways or a character might just make some choices you wanted and not follow in blind faith! Ohh, and that person you think I’m referring to you are probably wrong. He isn’t that obvious, these breadcrumbs are so finely woven and seamlessly blended you almost miss them. And that my friends is the magic of John Gwynne’s writing.

In Malice we saw a low magic system, so it was nice to see the elemental magic we were introduced to expanded further in Valour. Gwynne better explains the rules of the magic and we see it’s use a little bit more. 

In every book you read there is always a drive to reach the conclusion of the story, a need to finish it and see how it all ends. That need still stands with Valour, but at the same time you are so invested in the smaller things happening to each of the characters own individual stories and relationships. Upon finishing valour I still felt utterly satisfied,  much happens in Valour and Gwynne made it that I wasn’t chasing the end of the greater story but grasping the pages to conclude the smaller plot lines making this book utterly enjoyable.

Gwynne furthers the bonds of brotherhood in Valour, more so than in Malice. I particularly liked the blossoming relationship between Camlin and Dath. Corban also began to show greater levels of camaraderie, not that it wasn’t present in book one, it certainly was especially with his band of friends but Gwynne develops this even more to brother and sisters in arms, bound by the harrowing events of book one and book two.

I also found Valour to be diverse in it’s conflict. In more than one way, as with Malice we saw different levels of good vs evil, some being the greater war, others personal fueds and also that between kings and queens. Gwynne does not fail to keep this diversity in Valour. As a lover of all things military and battle-related I was happy to see that Gwynne treats you to guerrilla warfare, shield walls, magical and monstrous battles between giant and wolven and so much more. He does not fail to mix things up. I also enjoyed seeing the different aspects of a single battle. It was nice to see Corban not fighting but helping Brina in the medical wing at one point.

The plot in Valour is definitely a little darker than Malice, but it fits, we get a deeper look at the prophecy and those who will inevitably play a role in it. The pace is a lot quicker than Malice and things are heating up more and more. This book is amazing, and dare I say more enjoyable than Malice, and if that keeps and these books keep getting better then that’s freaking brilliant! 


Review: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Blood Song:

  • Title: Blood Song
  • Author: Anthony Ryan
  • Series: Raven’s Shadow
  • Publisher: First published by Anthony Ryan
  • Pages: 591

I read Blood Song on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I have every intention to buy the hardback for my shelves.

Synopsis:

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

Review:

I am such a stickler for the start of a novel, I have read books that have hooked me in a page, the first ten per cent or books that have gotten to thirty per cent and I’m still not excited. So to see Anthony Ryan begin this novel in such a brilliant way, it was safe to say I was in for an enjoyable read. The book begins with a scribe and an imperial prisoner who is being transported to a trial by combat. The whole encounter between these two men made me wonder so much, who was this man? So calm in the face of death, so well spoken and polite and oddly enough respected by those who would seemingly hate him, enough to be gifted not only something that was once his but another precious gift. If that doesn’t grip you then I don’t know what will, but I instantly wanted to read on and know all there was to know about this man.

First we begin with the scribe’s POV, who is with Vaelin, then the rest of the book is written in a flashback, exquisitely done I might add, from Vaelin’s POV where he is explaining to the scribe the events of his life up to the present day.

This is an incredible book, and one I struggle to find fault with and totally worth the five stars given in this rating/review. Anthony Ryan writes in a way that is wholly immersive and easy flowing.

Vaelin’s tale is one in which we experience bonds of friendship/brotherhood, war, politics, religion, conspiracy and so much more. I am all about bonds of brotherhood in books, they are my weakness, so when I say I loved Vaelin and his brothers of the order it is no small thing. Frentis, Dentos, Brakus, Caenis and Nortah were all sublime, they were utterly believable and so well developed. I am a firm believer that a main character is only as good as the characters that surround them, and with Vaelin surrounded by these boys and many more amazing character this book has to offer, this had the makings of a five star read. It is safe to say this is a character-driven book, and one which is filled with emotion and character development, so if that is your thing read this book. Simple.

This book, I would say, is a relatively slow-paced book being one of training and coming of age but make no mistake this book does not allow you to stop reading. It is a seriously addictive page turner and does not falter under the dreaded middle phase slump that is often seen in books.

I would highly recommend this book to those who love the epic/high fantasy genre, its world building is light and wonderful, its character outstanding and its plot intriguing.


Review: Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Promise of Blood:

  • Title: Promise of Blood
  • Author: Brian McClellan
  • Series: The Powder Mage Trilogy (Book One)
  • Publisher: Orbit
  • Pages: 545

I read Promise of Blood on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I bought the trilogy (paperback) for my shelves.

Synopsis:

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.

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…

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

(Goodreads)

Review:

From start to finish, this book was outstanding. I don’t think I can find one thing I didn’t like about it. It was that good.

This was a completely new genre for me having never read flintlock fantasy before and I can definitely say it won’t be my last. I think the fact I had never read a book of this nature before only added to it’s enjoyment because I found the magic system brilliant. It was new (to me) and well thought out. The magic system is a high magic system, being central to the plot and its characters, it is consistent throughout the entire book and at no point do we see a break in the rules surrounding its use. I enjoyed the clarity of the magic, where it came from (black powder) and that it was sometimes costly. 

McClellan’s writing ability is flawless, he creates deep and meaningful connections and evokes a full range of emotions from the reader despite being beautifully crisp and simple. Pair that with the realism his characters possess and you have a winner. 

McClellan also excels in his world building, I didn’t once find myself overwhelmed with information, he gently weaves its setting (industrial revolution), culture and religion into the character interactions seamlessly. Laying what is a solid foundation for the other instalments of a wonderful series. 

Promise of Blood is told from several POV’s; Tamas, Taniel and Adamat (and that is probably the order in which I rate them 🙈). There is Nila too but she isn’t a huge feature. McClellan has crafted an incredible cast of characters for Promise of Blood, with even the smaller parts being memorable and entertaining. Tamas and Olem were particularly fun to read throughout, I loved the contrast between the two of them and how well they worked despite it. 

“Tamas suppressed a smile. He could like this man. Too free with his tongue, perhaps.

Tamas is all about rules and against his better judgment he likes Olem.

“Olem shrugged. “You’re a teetotaler, sir, and it’s well known among the men you won’t abide smoking either.” “Then why are you hiding it behind your back?” “Waiting for you to turn around so I can have a hit, sir.

Then you get another enjoyable duo; Taniel and Ka Poel. The fact that Ka Poel is mute just adds to this relationship, by seeing the way she communicates with gestures and body language is greatly entertaining. I certainly felt more from these two characters and could feel the connection between them, seeing its growth and understanding it more the further into the story and their development you get.

The pacing of this book is somewhat up and down, and does have several stages we’re it is slower and less exciting but I didn’t feel like this took anything away from the book.  This is because the story is filled with action, investigating, revenge, betrayal, political plays and more, all of which require different paces. 

As for the series: I have read the complete trilogy and would rate the overall experience as I have this book, with five big ass stars.