I will hold my hand up and say I was less than enthusiastic about this book based purely on a brief read of the cover blurb. However, since I was still enjoying being on a fantasy kick and wanting something new to sink my teeth into I picked it up.
It was actually the strapline on the cover that rescued the book for me – “The Age of Kings is dead… and I have killed it.” I loved it, both powerful and intriguing and that alone was enough to turn the first page.
I’ve never been happier to have been proved wrong. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot – while it might have seemed like a common fantasy trope at first glance, Brian McClellan managed to turn it on its head and shake it around. The result is an amazing debut that entertained and engaged me, while giving me that tingle of discovering something good and very special.
The writing was descriptive without being too wordy. I could clearly envisage the scenes in my head, even without extra padding and that made for easy reading that flowed right to the end.
The characters were superbly envisioned and no one was clearly cut out as good or evil, just varying shades of grey. Believing you are doing the right thing is a powerful force even in the face of evidence to the contrary. As the plot unfolded, my allegiances changed, time and time again and while I have to confess my favourites were Taniel and Adamat, both were very different characters but there was something special about them that really touched me.
The magic system McClellan conjured was just as intriguing as the story. Magic is very common but in the majority of the Knacked population it’s very minor and often no more than a help to do their job. The more powerful Marked are pretty dangerous and the top ranking Privileged are utterly lethal. Then there are powder mages, those who can use gunpowder to augment their abilities, often making them unbeatable in a fight. Of course that’s a very simplistic description of something integral to the story so I can only suggest you read and find out the intricacies for yourself!
The ending of Promise of Blood was nicely done even and sets things up solidly for the next book. As an aside, I really liked the fact that while I really want to read the next one, I’m not left feeling desperate due to a cliffhanger. It was no less powerful an ending because of that either.
Definitely an author to watch and highly recommended for any fantasy fan.