Author: Brian McClellan
Category: High Fantasy
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Promise of Blood started out very promising. Tamas’s coup is already underway when the novel opens, things are happening, you wanna know why and what exactly has lead to this point. The fallen Cabal all say as they die “Remember Kresimir’s broken promise.”
‘What the heck is that!’ I think excitedly
Then….the coup is over and so is all the suspense.
Good things to say first, the magic was interesting. Unfortunately, there was not a lot explained as far as the mechanics of how the Powder Mages work. The Knacked are all born with what basically amounts to a super-charged talent, such as not having to sleep. The Privileged all have an elemental-type magic that is worked with some spirit fingers and reaching out to “the else.” But as for the trilogies namesake, nothing is really explained. They can blow stuff up without having to touch it…and they can shoot good. That’s about all that could be gleaned.
If there is one thing that would have improved this book greatly, it would have been more backstory as to why Tamas felt he needed to overthrow the monarchy. This act is the catalyst for all the events after, normal and supernatural and all we get is one line about the monarchy “bleeding the country dry” and another about a deal with a foreign nation, the Kez. We never get to understand exactly what that deal was or in what ways the monarchy was hurting its people.
Anything could have helped here. Show me Tamas having to deal with the aftermath of a recent policy or law of King Manouch’s. Show me him fighting the aftereffects of insane taxes. Show me him trying to do anything related to actually freaking fixing Adro! He spends all his time worrying about a spy, which is a legitimate concern, but you would think that someone that wants to step into the shoes of a national leader would be able to multi-task.
“Thanks for taking over Tamas and not doing anything to fix any of the problems we apparently had!” Said all the citizens of Adro everywhere.
In large part because of this lack of understanding Tamas’s motives to take over comes an uncertainty that he is actually a good guy. For part of the book, it seems like maybe this was done intentionally to give Tamas some depth. Then as time goes on, it just becomes laziness on the writer’s part to not give him more background and character development.
The rest of the characters do not fare much better. They are mostly likable but there is not much substance to them. The story started out with this whole drama between Taniel and his fiance and then that goes absolutely nowhere.
It was not awful; it had potential but a lot of it was lost. I think the story maybe moved along a little to slowly than the plot needed it to so it just stagnated about about the 15% through. The big “mystery” at the start of the story is this “Kresimir’s broken promise” and then the investigator, Adamat, finds out what it means and Taniel gets a little bit more background on it fairly early on, then it is completely forgotten about until the very end so everything in between almost feels like filler.
Overall, an entirely forgettable story. If I had not made notes while I was reading, I don’t think I would have remembered enough of the story between the time I read the book and the time this review was written to have formed a coherent sentence about it.
What to say? I barely remember the story, characters, or why they do what what they do. I just struggled to care about anything that was going on. The only positive thing I could say is that the Powder Mage powers are really cool, but I wanted to know more about them. Honestly I will not be picking up the next book in this series simply because I don’t care about anything that happens.