Sins of Empire. Book Review

SINS OF EMPIRE by Brian McClellan
Orbit. p/b. £8.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

General Flint always feels the sadness after a battle. She may be leading a mercenary band rather than an army these days but she sticks to her code and ensures the clean up is just that. Fort Samnan had been seized and she has done her job – the rebellion has been put down. Yet before the clean up is even finished a new job hails. There is trouble in Fatrasta’s capital.

Some time after the Powder Mage Affair, Michel Bravis, hierarchy-climbing Blackhat, secret police to the Lady Chancellor, also gets a summons. What does the grand master want with him? Fidelis Jes is feared, and with good reason. He likes to settle his disputes by duel, and he is not known for his losses.

This first book in the Gods of Blood and Powder series contains some excellent surprises for those who enjoyed The Powder Mage trilogy, and those surprises inject new energy into the narrative at the perfect moments, lifting the tale and rooting it firmly in its past and the past of its key characters as well as teasing the reader along to where it may be heading.

McClellan writes with the same confidence and his characters have the perfect combination of self-doubt, skill and determination so as to have the reader rooting for them. New point of view character, Bravis, elevates the dialogue with a wonderful habit of talking to himself. McClellan expertly and cleverly delivers both personas to the reader, enhancing Bravis’ hopes, fears and motivations, and almost instantly connecting them with his plight.

The mystery of the Palo blood sorcery remains in this story, and is a companion and contrast to those other powers of the Powder Mages, Privileged and Knacked. Throw all that in with the brute strength of the Mad Lancers and you have a dynamic, action-laden fantasy. If a good book is one which will be read with a smile on the face and will be read more than once, then this is it.