Published: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Orbit Books
Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #2
Pages: 656 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.
Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.
Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.
Without a doubt, Wrath of Empire was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I absolutely loved the return to the Powder Mage world in Sins of Empire and knew this would be a stellar follow up. Hands down, this book was at least equivalent to Sins of Empire and as soon as I finished reading I started checking on the status of the third book. 10/10 would read again. And again, but definitely in audio because Christian Rodska has a gloriously perfect voice for these characters.
Since the Dynize invasion of Fatrasta the focus has narrowed to fighting the Dynize and finding the godstones, meaning the vendettas and strife from the first book have subsided somewhat (though I doubt they’ve entirely disappeared in some cases). Vlora and Ben Styke have coordinated their efforts and are searching after the godstones while Michel Bravis has remained in occupied Landfall and is searching for an informant called Mara. This is as bare bones as I can make the plot – Brian McClellan has woven and intricate, adrenaline roiling story and I won’t do it any justice by trying to explain it here. Rest assured, it was fantastic and I simultaneously wanted to get to the end as quickly as possible and wanted it to never end. I feel like that’s one of the best compliments I can give to a book because it indicates that the story is 100% gripping from beginning to end AND that something about it, whether it’s the characters or the plot or something else entirely, make the reader not want to let go. I most definitely considered going back and re-reading Sins of Empire as soon as I finished this one, but I really need to keep to a schedule.
Wrath of Empire provides the reader with a broader view of Fatrasta than was provided in Sins of Empire, and this is largely due to the fact that our characters are now on the move. Vlora and the Riflejacks are headed north, towards a mountainous region wiith a thriving gold mining community – can you say wild west vibes? Styke and his Mad Lancers are headed towards the coast with Ka-poel in search of the other stone and stopping along the way to settle old scores. Did I mention that I love little Celine? She helps to humanize Styke by being the daughter he never had, making for some really touching moments between the two. Michel has the privilege of remaining in Landfall and fulfilling his role as a supporter of the Red Hand, aka Taniel, which leads him into something of a pickle. He’s a terribly interesting character, though I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite here as each of the POV characters is phenomenally written and not at all dull.
This book had me so full of emotion by the end – particularly during the final chapters of Vlora’s POV. The adrenaline was flowing and I thought my head might pop off – dude, she is so awesome. Those that think the fantasy genre lacks strong women have clearly never read Brian McClellan’s books. These ladies crush it. Also, I had an AWWW YISSSS moment when a few familiar faces from the Powder Mage trilogy show up. All this being said, I highly recommend this book, this series, this author. If you liked the Powder Mage trilogy, check out Sins of Empire because it’s a spot on winner, and it may still be on sale in eBook format! If you like a bit of military with your fantasy, unique forms of magic, and/or ton of action you might just like this. I’ll be (im)patiently waiting for the release of the third book, which I hope will be released around this time next year.