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on 31 May 2017
Phew... Where to begin? First of all, as the book description states, fans of Brent Weeks' "The Night Angel Trilogy" and "The Lightbringer Series" will love this book. McClellan shares Weeks' ability to seamlessly run multiple complex plots in cohesion with one another and leave the reader intrigued and guessing. (In some cases more coherently than Weeks does, in my humble opinion, but admittedly this is only the first book, we'll see how well it all sticks together in the second and third books)

A unique variation on the theme of traditional magic makes the mechanics of this world fascinating. The book provides a solid foundation to the world without branching into long chunks of dialogue or exposition to keep the reader up to speed. Making a setting feel real and "lived in" from scratch is a difficult thing but this book achieves it effortlessly.The amount of description of characters and locations is deep enough to allow the reader to form an image in their own mind without burdening them with excess text to pour through. Some books go to extreme lengths in their descriptions and can bore the reader, sometimes less is more and this book does it well.

The characters are believable and relatable, they pull you into their lives and I never felt like I was simply reading characters in a book. There are many sub-plots; a valiant yet bloody battle against a foreign aggressor, an ancient magical mystery, a man trying to create a new and fair government out of the ashes of a coup and all of the political intrigue that entails, an estranged son sorely trying to win the approval of a distant father, struggles with addiction, and an element of "who dun it," each riveting on their own while combining and intertwining to make a greater whole culminating in a suspenseful finale.

One review I read here complains that the middle of the book seems to lose steam but I disagree, never during my first read through did I feel like there was lost momentum. There were different pitches of intensity but nothing less gripping than the pure-action parts. I was engaged and left wanting for more the whole way through.

A thoroughly enjoyable read and I'll be moving straight on to the next in the series.
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on 9 September 2016
I've spent the last 30 years reading sci-fi and fantasy, worked my way through the master works collection and read countless other works, after a time themes and similarities shine though and and seems like nothing's worth the time. This changes that, a really engaging take on the old genre new concepts and old blended together perfectly, thanks!
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on 16 June 2017
I read a lot of reviews about this saga and one of the common themes in people's 'cons'list was that it didn't explain the magic involved, everything you possibly need to know IS explained. That said I'm not a huge magic fan, but the idea of elite soldiers with the power to control gun powder set in a early 1800s world is amazing.
The plot will have you gripped. You'll get excited every time another characters story comes around and disappointed when you're left dangling at the end of another's chapter.
I prefer a little more humour in my fantasy, but what it lacks in that the plot makes up for it.
Already decided I'm getting a powder keg tattoo .
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on 8 September 2015
This book shows lots of promise. Some good new ideas e.g. the different types of magic. A bit vague in some places, for example Prime Lektor is hardly in the book for most of it, then takes a major role from nowhere. Not a lot seemed to happen in the middle part of the book, but a strong finish. I will continue with the series.
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on 12 October 2015
Managed to finish the series in a little over a month of holiday and evening reading as I couldn't put them down. The powder mage aspect reminded me a bit of the fourth mistborn book, due to the ability to alter the path of bullets and if you're a fan of those books, then I think you'll enjoy this.
The action starts in the first chapter and carries on throughout the series with lots of battles, sorcery and fighting alongside detective work, spies, traitors etc.
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on 5 July 2016
I'm a large fan of the setting and themes, and the book had me gripped from page one. I can recommend this book to fans of the genre.
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on 11 July 2017
Loved the whole trilogy
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on 9 May 2017
Don't normally write reviews but had to say one of the best I've read in a long time.great characters ,thoroughly enjoyed the story line.would recommend to everyone.bring on book 2.
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on 22 April 2017
Delivers as promised ...page turner interesting to see if sequel lives up to a surprise or the same old plot..power, good & bad!
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It's refreshing to see a new fantasy series take the time to establish a firm foundation for its setting without having to rely on the old conventions of the genre. Promise of Blood, the first in the Powder Mage trilogy, is appropriately epic in its scale and ambition, not just depicting the vast power struggles of huge forces, sorcerers and demons fulfilling some ancient prophesy, but also taking into account the social and economic cost of the upheaval on the ordinary citizen when Field Marshal and Powder Mage Tamas overthrows the corrupt reign of King Manhouch in the kingdom of Adro. That's only just beginning of Tamas's troubles, but if the rest of this series remains as gritty and as thrilling as the set-up alone it will be one of the best new fantasy works for a long time. And there is indeed every sign that the series has a lot more to offer.

Having overthrown the King and publicly executed the nobility right at the outset of the first book, the real substance of Promise of Blood then is to be found in the disorder that follows in the wake of the revolution. Tamas has to quell the civil unrest that follows, sweep up pockets of royalist resistance, account for the kingdom's debts and put the economic house into order (not least of which is finding a way to pay his soldiers), but the unrest also places Adro in a dangerous position with its neighbours in Kez only waiting for the opportunity to take advantage of the instability. McClellan does well to cover all these angles though a number of characters who all provide a different perspective on the aftermath. There's Olem, Tamas's bodyguard; Adamat, an investigator he has hired to look into a conspirator in the ranks; Nila, a former maid of the royal family who is hired to work in the camp; and Taniel, the son of Tamas, another powder mage who is charged with facing down the immediate and most dangerous threat from Kez and rival sorcerers with tremendous powers known as Privileged.

This perspective covers all the angles and combines to build up an extensive picture of the scale of the post-revolution situation, gradually revealing aspects of the history and mythology of the Nine Kingdoms, establishing social background and context, and doing it all in a realistic, thrilling and suspenseful manner that has none of the usual tedium of lengthy exposition of myths and legends. That's all very well being super-realistic and convincing, but what about the fantasy elements? Well, Promise of Blood's flintlock fantasy doesn't disappoint either, creating a world with Powder Mages - who use gunpowder like cocaine, enhancing their ability to control its explosive force and direction - as well as sorcerers with differing levels of gifts from the powerful Privileged to the handy Knacks. There are also a few other powers that are less easily defined but which come into play to tremendous effect later in this first book.

Promise of Blood is just the opening salvo then, one that establishes the world and the context of the Powder Mage trilogy, and it's one that at the moment that doesn't appear to extend much beyond the familiar subject of warring kingdoms. The devil however (and indeed the gods) is in the detail, in the realistic attention paid to the characters and the situation, and in the gradual revelation of what is at stake (and it's much bigger than you would initially think). Right from the first page there is never a dull moment, and you can feel the pressure on Tamas from every angle and sense the growing danger and scale of the book's ambition develop on every single page, McClellan's organisation and direct writing creating an incredible sense of pace and tension that builds up to a suitably impressive conclusion. This alone is an incredible debut but what it opens up for the books ahead is even more exciting.
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