Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 596 Pages
Release: May 2014
When I read Promise of Blood I liked it, a lot. But I wasn't blown away by it. This, however, may have converted me.
This book was amazing. The world building has gotten better, and since it was introduced in the first novel there is less that needs to be done here. Still, the history of the various nations is explored as we learn more about the gods and their plots among men.
The magic system in this series is fascinating. You can eat or snort gunpowder and it gives you powers? Pretty strange, yet oddly cool. And so many things can be done with these powers. Powder Mages (as the gunpowder eating/snorting guys are called) are not the only magical beings, however. There are also the Knacked, who have one special skill they can use. Some of them don't need sleep, some have perfect memory, that sort of thing. And then there are the Privileged, who can tap into the Else (the mystical other side that all magical beings pull their power from) and make crazy things happen. It's all rather fascinating and expanded really well in this second installment in the trilogy.
I really enjoyed all of the characters in the first novel, but I fell in love with most of them here. Taniel and Ka-poel continue to be my favorites, but Tamas and Adamat were excellent too. Nila I still don't enjoy all that much and even Bo isn't a favorite. And Vlora...well, I don't really know what to say about Vlora.
The focus of this trilogy is all on war. Everyone is at war, whether it be personal or for their nation (usually a little of both). And it's so well done. I was there in the fighting alongside our main characters, trying to save their nation with them.
Taniel and Ka-poel probably had the most interesting story of the lot, but everyone else was enjoyable. Taniel was having to learn to live in the military without his father around for the first time, challenging the command structure. His magic is changing, he's growing up, and Ka-poel is there every step of the way. I find her amazing, honestly. For not ever saying a word (since she's mute), she has some excellent character development. I'm impressed.
The book ends with some crazy cliffhangers that make me want to read the next book immediately. And trust me, it will be picked up soon. If you haven't given the Powder Mage trilogy a try yet, what are you waiting for? Just do it.