Published: June 21, 2022
Publisher: Tor Books
Series: Glass Immortals #1
Pages: 576 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0 Stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
From Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage trilogy, comes the first novel in the Glass Immortals series, In the Shadow of Lightning, an epic fantasy where magic is a finite resource—and it’s running out.
“Excellent worldbuilding and a truly epic narrative combine into Brian’s finest work to date. Heartily recommended to anyone who wants a new favorite fantasy series to read.”—Brandon Sanderson
Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.
Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.
Guys! June has already brought me another book that will go on my Best Books of 2022 list!! Having seen the magic that Brian McClellan can work with the Powder Mage and Gods of Blood and Powder series, I had high expectations for In the Shadow of Lightning. And oh my, I could not have been happier unless I had the entire finished series in my hands at once. This book was incredible with an epic new magic system based on godglass, which grants the user enhanced intelligence, sight, strength, and even the ability to shoot razor sharp glass projectiles, but not without consequence.
AND THE POLITICS! I LOVE the politics between the guild families in the city of Ossa! I’m a big softie when it comes to vicious family rivalries, long held vendettas, and groups of powerful old geezers being outwitted by the upstart younger generation. It just warms my soul!
Demir Grappo is at the forefront of that upstart younger generation when In the Shadow of Lightning begins. He’s barely past childhood and yet is leading a successful campaign against a rebelling territory until a traitorous miscommunication is sent out in his name to sack the city of Holikan. The Lightning Prince slips away into the outer territories for nine years, hiding from his mistakes and the event that broke him, only returning to Ossa when news that his mother was murdered reaches him. Demir finds himself the head of the Grappo guild family and thus responsible for their fortunes, properties, and retainers, but he also must find out who murdered his clever and compassionate mother AND take over the secret project she had begun.
In order to complete these tasks, he gathers those he trusts most around him and here we are introduced to the other POV characters. Kizzie is a bastard daughter of the Vorcien clan and she’s currently out of favor, so when Demir offers her the opportunity to investigate Adriana Grappo’s murder rather than play beat cop she eagerly agrees. Not to mention, she, Demir, and Baby Montego have been close friends since childhood. Baby Montego is Demir’s adopted brother and world famous cudgeling champion (UFC, but fighters beat each other with cudgels). Montego is a terror to his enemies, adored by his fans, and will do anything for those he cares about. Then there’s Idrian Sepulki, a Breacher (human tank) who serves under Demir’s uncle in an engineering company of the Foreign Legion. Idrian is tough as forgeglass, and serves as the prime POV for the war between Grent and Ossa. He’s also slowly going mad as his witglass eye slowly loses its power. Lastly there’s Thessa, the only protege to a master siliceer (godglass developer) who was working with Demir’s mother to craft a phoenix channel. The phoenix channel was a theoretical design that could recharge godglass, which is quite important since the supply of material needed to craft it is running out.
There are so many layers to this story and Brian McClellan crafts and weaves these layers together in artful mastery. This book is a brilliant combination of detective work, war, and political intrigue much as with the original Powder Mage trilogy and frankly, it’s a combination I find totally addictive. It’s the ultimate combination of my favorite themes and the multiple POV characters bring everything together so seamlessly *chef’s kiss*. It was honestly tough to pick a favorite character, though Demir admittedly edges out the others just a smidge because I’m weak for overly competent, damaged characters. And boy-o, that ending was something else! The sudden appearance of eldritch horrors?? I am indescribably excited for the next book (currently my excitement level is at a frequency that could shatter glass). I’m about to go recommend this to every single person I know who actually reads books.