Waiting on Wednesday: Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


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After being awed by Sins of Empire earlier this year, it was with great enthusiasm that I read and re-read the synopsis for Wrath of Empire when it was revealed! Plus, that cover is wonderful and implies much action to come. McClellan is my favorite author of what is referred to as “flintlock fantasy”, meaning that the tech has advanced the level of flintlock weaponry (cannons, muskets, etc) and it’s got a fabulous dose of magery as well. Looks like this will be published March 6, 2018 which will be here before you know it! If you haven’t picked up any of Brian McClellan’s books yet, I would highly recommend you read them in order of publication, beginning with Promise of Blood where many of the main characters in this series are introduced.

Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan – Review

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Published: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 624 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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!

Currently Reading: 2/20/17

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Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

This book is magnificent. I’ve been burning through this book and (as I type this) I have a strong urge to stay up all night and finish it though sadly I cannot. I am in love with this book and if you were a fan of McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy you need this in your life!!!

 

 

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Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

I’m really intrigued by this book but don’t have time to pick up a hard copy, so audio format it is!! I think I’ll enjoy this story of a royal avoiding her courtly duties by smuggling stuff in space. Sounds like a wild ride!

Stacking the Shelves -2/11/17

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

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Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

When this showed up at my doorstep I was OVER THE MOON with excitement! Not only is it set in the same world and featuring some of the same characters from one of my most well-loved fantasy series, but it’s also the first book I’ve ever received from Orbit!! Huge thanks to them for the wish come true!

Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

This one has got to be good, right? I mean, Stan Lee said great things about it so I’ve got high hopes. Thank you to Tor Teen for sending this my way.

The Travelers by Chris Pavone

World traveling, international intrigue, spies…. sign me up! I’ve got to squeeze this one in soon, though it seems like it would have been more suited for a summer release because it sounds like a perfect vacation read. Thanks to Crown and Blogging for Books!

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Honestly, until Defy the Stars was featured on The Bibliosanctum I didn’t know much about this book at all, but shortly after the feature it popped up in a NetGalley email… You better believe I rushed off to download it! I’m hoping this young adult sci-fi novel will be as good as the cover looks. Thanks to Little,Brown and NetGalley for the opportunity.

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

I’ve been mooning over this book for months, ever since the cover reveal. After having no luck at getting physical ARCs of any of these highly-sought YA novels I once again turned to NetGalley where I had better luck. This will be released March 28, so I’ll be diving in soon. Thanks to Knopf and NetGalley.

Purchases/Gifts:

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I’ve seen SO much hype for this book that I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. It’s a gorgeous book (not as nice as the UK edition) and it sounds like it might be similar to The Night Circus.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I’ve been wanting to read this ever since it first came out, but never got around to buying it. I found it in the bargain section at B.A.M. and the BF was being sweet and bought it for me 🙂

 

Fictional Fight Club – 2/10/17

Fictional Fight Club is a new weekly feature at Powder & Page where I pair up fictional characters with similar abilities/skills and determine who would win in a fight.


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Taniel Two-Shot vs. Jesper Fahey

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Taniel Two-Shot – Powder mage (can ingest black powder to enhance senses, increased endurance, can control bullet flight, can set off black powder if in proximity), trained, battle tested soldier, known for killing Privileged mages

 

 

 

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Jesper Fahey – Inxperienced Grisha (Materialki, can manipulate various materials, crafters), extremely skilled marksman, lives and works in the Dregs of Ketterdam, gambling addiction

 

 

Predicted Winner – Taniel Two-Shot

Since reading Crooked Kingdom, I’ve been dying to match up some of the characters in my Fight Club and with the upcoming release of Sins of Empire, it’s a great time to feature a character from the Powder Mage world as well. I’m predicting that Taniel will win this bout, largely due to his professional experience, which included guerrilla-style fighting, multiple environments, and facing opponents that should have been out of his league. Jesper, while undoubtedly a crack shot, just doesn’t seem to be on the same level as Taniel overall. Jesper is also much more likely to take risks, and quite frankly, he’s a terrible gambler so I think that would end up being a significant disadvantage. I think the magical skills that both opponents bring to the table are very closely matched, though Taniel’s ability to use black powder to enhance sight, endurance, and reflexes gives him an edge over Jesper’s largely untested Grisha abilities. Had Jesper become more comfortable with his abilities and not sought to hide them, he could have easily overpowered Taniel magically in any number of ways.

This is open for debate in the comments, so have at it! If you have any suggestions or requests for future matchups, leave those in the comments as well!

 

Waiting on Wednesday: Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


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March 7, 2017

I can’t believe I haven’t featured Sins of Empire yet- what negligence!! I loved Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy and I was stoked to learn that he would continue to write more in the  same world. This was my first flintlock fantasy and it really encouraged me to seek out more lit in the same subgenre. Sins of Empire focuses on the fledgling nation of  Fatrasta which, if you recall, was where Taniel and Ka-Poel had just arrived from at the beginning of Promise of Blood. At least one character from the Powder Mage trilogy will be making an appearance and I have my suspicions that others will as well. Also, just look at that architecture on the cover!!

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – Review

Cover- Promise of Blood

Published: April 16, 2013

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 545 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

 

 

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? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.


As time allows, I’ll be working on re-listening to and re-reading some of my favorite books that I haven’t featured on my blog. I’ve only been blogging for the last year, but I’ve been an avid reader since the age of five so that leaves a lot of un-reviewed subject matter. I’ll be featuring some of my favorite YA and Adult fantasy and sci-fi books that I’ve read in the last 6-8 years or so (makes me feel old). As you may have guessed from the title, the first feature review I’ll be doing is for Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan.

When I first decided that Promise of Blood looked… well, promising, I had never heard of the sub-genre of flintlock fantasy. I loved the military aspect of the Powder Mage Trilogy as well as the unique magic system McClellan developed and the relative modernity it had compared to the usual swords and knights kind of thing. The whole book is appealing, from the incredible cover, to the names of people and locations, to the finely crafted story itself.

Said story begins with a coup. Adamat, a private investigator, is called to Skyline palace in the wee hours of the morning only to find that it wasn’t the king who had called, but rather Field Marshall Tamas, the man who’s just overthrown the king and murdered his mage cabal. Upon their demise, each mage uttered a singularly disconcerting phrase and it is now Adamat’s job to figure out what it means. Tamas meanwhile, must oversee the executions of the nobility, keep the country of Adro running, identify an unknown Privileged sorcerer, and that’s just within the first few days. Of course, Tamas has the help of his Powder cabal, his fellow usurpers, and his son Taniel, who is a renowned powder mage himself. Taniel Two-Shot and Ka-poel, his “savage” companion enter the story right in the midst of the coup and Taniel immediately finds himself drawn into the action chasing down the unknown Privileged in Adro. This book really throws you right in the middle of the action and it doesn’t let up the entire time!

Promise of Blood was full of saltpeter and sorcery, gods and guns, magic and mayhem. Okay, you get the picture right? It was fantastic, action-packed, and had me on the edge of my seat! Each character was interesting and well-developed and I was seriously invested in each storyline, which is impressive. I loved Adamat, Tamas, and Taniel’s chapters- for me to both not want to stray from the current character and want to see what’s going on with next is great because I usually have a favorite by the first hundred pages.

All in all, this was a strong, enticing start to the trilogy and I loved it just as much the second read as the first. After such praise, you may wonder why I only gave it 4 star so let me explain. Because this is a re-read, I already know how much more awesome the next two books get and in comparison with the plot in the latter two, this is a 4.0/5.0. Autumn Republic was a great conclusion to the series and I can’t wait to review books 2 and 3 for you, my readers! I hope this has piqued your interest enough to read Promise of Blood!

 

Top 5 Grimdark Series

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The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence

The Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan

Raven’s Shadow Trilogy by Anthony Ryan

The Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook


For those of you unaware, Grimdark refers to a sub-genre of speculative fiction that is particularly realistic or that contains an anti-hero. I find that military fantasy books often end up in this sub-genre, and these novels hold a special place in my heart. Each of the links above will take you to the Goodreads page for the first novel in each series. Enjoy!