Published: March 7, 2017
Pages: 624 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
I find that I’m having trouble finding words eloquent enough to describe how much I loved Sins of Empire. I adored McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy and getting to return to this world and catch up with familiar characters is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Sins of Empire is set about 10 years after the events of the Powder Mage trilogy and rather than being set in The Nine, we get to more broadly explore the nation of Fatrasta.
Those of you already familiar with McClellan’s books may recall that Fatrasta was mentioned several times as the place where Taniel Two-Shot earned his name and where he met Ka-poel, the Dynize bone-eye. Ten years later, the city of Landfall is a bustling urban center, international trade is booming, and Lady Chancellor Lindet is trying to crush the uprising of the native Palo people. Crushing a guerrilla-style uprising is a perfect job for the Riflejack mercenary company, headed by Lady Vlora Flint and Colonel Olem. Sound familiar? I shrieked with delight at the prospect of seeing these two in action once again, but now as leads instead of secondary characters.
Sins of Empire is told from three major angles: Lady Vlora Flint of the Riflejacks, Michel Bravis of the Lady Chancellor’s Blackhats, and Mad Ben Styke, formerly of the Mad Lancers. Vlora has an additional decade of military experience, plus a reputation from the Adran-Kez war, both of which have hardened her further. Michel Bravis is an intelligence agent at the Silver Rose level, meaning he’s not far from the top. When he’s assigned as liaison to the Riflejacks and given the additional task of tracking down the person behind the theft of several Iron Rose pins and the author of a seditious pamphlet he gets in deep. Bravis has secrets of his own, tucked safely away in the corner of his mind and his hunt brings the truth of his goals to the forefront once again. Mad Ben Styke is a bull of a man and not easily killed, thus the reason he’s been in a labor camp since the defeat of the Kez in Fatrasta. Styke and his ward Celine are freed after a hefty bribe from one Gregious Tampo, who assigns Styke to join the Riflejacks and protect Vlora until further notice.
The characters are ridiculously well-written and a few chapters in you realize that you’ve fallen in love with the characters, the story, and the location with no effort whatsoever. Sins of Empire has got to be my favorite McClellan book to-date and that’s really saying something. I could fan-girl over this for days. It’s not at all necessary to read the Powder Mage trilogy beforehand, though being familiar with the storyline will maximize your enjoyment because you’ll understand all the references, the history of the characters, and maybe even make some deductions of your own!! This book has earned my highest recommendation and I’m pretty heartbroken that I’ll have to wait until next year to find out what happens next. Christian Rodska will be narrating this series as well, so I may pick this up in audiobook format for a re-read later this year. You too can read this masterpiece upon release on March 7, 2017!