This morning, I had the shock of my life when the search committee at the university I applied for a job with called me 3 hours earlier than I’d expected. Turns out I’d forgotten about the time difference between the East and West coasts. OOPS. It was an all right interview. Not good, but okay, all things considering. I’m glad it’s over and done with, so I can go back to reading and not worrying about it!
Today’s featured book: Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan (Book #1 of The Powder Mage Trilogy).
Format I consumed it in: Print, from the library where I work.
The premise: So I’m used to books about revolutions starting with the protagonist living a pretty normal life and then noticing problems with the place where he lives and realizing that there’s a lot of injustice, yada yada yada, and then ENDING in revolution. Promise of Blood STARTS OUT in the middle of a coup. Tamas, the Field Marshal and one of the strongest powder mages alive, has murdered the Royal Cabal, which is basically a group of powerful magicians (called Privileged) loyal to the king; in the process, five of his own mages were killed by a ridiculously strong Privileged who manages to escape. Tamas sends his son, Taniel, who’s known as Taniel Two-Shot (also a powder mage) and some mercenaries after the escaped Privileged while he and his co-conspirators (a council of 6, including Tamas himself, who represent the cities’ elite mercenaries, the union, the Church, the university, and the treasury) publicly execute the king, the royal family, and all prominent nobles over 17. Unbeknownst to everyone else, before the Royal Cabal members died, each of them mentioned something called “Kresimir’s promise”, which Tamas orders the private investigator Adamat to… well, investigate. Meanwhile, a laundress named Nila successfully sneaks the son of the duke she’s employed by (who is now the king’s closest living heir) out of the manor while the rest of the family is being arrested…
My thoughts: I LOVED this book! It was fascinating to see the aftermath of a successful coup. I usually read about revolutions and coups in fiction depicted in more of a big picture sort of way; it was different reading about all the details, including the difficulties of trying to satisfy all one’s allies (who have conflicting interests) AND the people. I thought the appearance of the gods was weird at first, because it felt as if the book was going to focus more on politics and the struggles of ordinary people to build a new government, and then it went and dropped gods on us (yes, I am aware it’s in the summary on the back of the book, but reading it as it happened was still strange). I eventually got used to it, though; plus, Mihali is a fun character.
One thing that disappointed me: I was hoping Ka-Poel was going to be a character of color, but then Brian McClellan started describing her freckles, light skin, and bright red hair. *Sighhhhh* I also thought the mini-romance between Nila and Olem was odd, although I hope they’ll return to this idea eventually. I am less pleased with the Ka-Poel/Taniel thing McClellan seems to be pushing. Must the main dude always, always, ALWAYS fall in love with the girl he travels with? Does he always have to have a love interest? If we’re going with yes, I honestly think Taniel has more chemistry with his best friend Bo, the exiled Privileged/Royal Cabal member who Tamas hasn’t killed yet. There is so much potential there! I even went and looked for fanfiction on it, but couldn’t find any. I thought there would be at least SOME, since the sci-fi/fantasy community always brings up The Powder Mage Trilogy, but I guess there’s “big enough to be talked about” and then there’s “so big there is fanfiction written about it”. Boooo….