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Promise of Blood

Narrated by: Christian Rodska
Length: 19 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,560 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The Age of Kings is dead...and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king....

It's up to a few....

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail. But when gods are involved....

Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should....

The Powder Mage Trilogy, Book 1.

©2013 Brian McClellan (P)2013 Hachette Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best debut novel in many years!

Do not miss out on this book! It is a fantasy book about believable people, idealism warring with necessities. The magical system is fresh and inventive. And to top it off you get to laugh out loud now and then. One of the best books (if not the best) I have listened to.

Christian Rodska is awesome as a narrator. He is one of the best!

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Promise of Awesome!

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A review of A Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
I enjoyed Brian McClellan's A Promise of Blood. It was a fun read from start to finish. It also perfectly meets the need I've been feeling for a while now. I love epic fantasy, but I feel the swords and sorcery trope is a bit tired. Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of room for awesome in medieval-based fantasy, but we've been stuck in the dark ages for quite some time. I want to see how wizards deal with the industrial revolution, which is exactly what McClellan does in this book.

What's great about A Promise of Blood, is that most of the bread and butter fantasy tropes are still there, they just have to deal with the upstart middle-class powder mages who have decided that the oligarchic sorcerers have had their turn. In fact if you took, say, the Wheel of Time, and revisited fifty or a hundred years after the events in A Memory of Light, you'd basically have A Promise of Blood. It basically has the same back story - way back when the sorcerers did stuff that makes today's elite look like children; the sorcerers can manipulate the classical elements; the sorcerers and kings have all the power and most of the wealth. There's even the threat of gods returning to wreak havoc on mere mortals' best laid plans.

But the times, they are a changing, thanks to Field Marshal Tamas and his cabal of powder mages, who ingest gunpowder and can manipulate bullets, whether that be bouncing them around corners or sniping someone from several miles away. And McClellan definitely delivers on his promise. Overthrowing the King and all the nobility can be a messy affair, and you can bet that the neighboring monarchs aren't thrilled that Tamas killed god's chosen king. Their own subjects might get ideas, after all.

I thought McClellan did a good job choosing his viewpoint characters. The story is told through the eyes of the General and interim dictator, his son, the common soldier, a middle-class investigator, and a laundress of one of the erstwhile noble families. I'm not giving names because I listened to the Audiobook and don't know how to spell anyone's name. I felt that giving us these different viewpoints lets us really feel the impact of all these social changes. Plus, the legion of secondary characters are also well-rounded and add to the depth.

As a note on the Audiobook, Christian Rodska does an excellent job narrating. He really gets into almost acting out the dialog instead of merely reading it.

36 of 39 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lore
  • SAN JOSE, CA, United States
  • 07-10-15

Flintlock fantasy with a solid story arc.

Promise of Blood is "Flintlock Fantasy" and introduces the concept of Powder Mages who are gun using sorcerers that rely on gunpowder to fuel their abilities. Powder Mages can enter a powder trance by ingesting gun powder and then manipulate bullets as they fly or explode any gun powder being carried by enemies. It is a unique magic system and executed pretty well by Brian McClellan. That concept combined with an interesting story arc carry the book and make up for the characters which I found to be a little uninteresting as a whole.

The book starts at the end of a coup led by Field Marshall Tamas, who with his cabal of Powder Mages, has just ousted the King and killed off his cabal of Privileged Sorcerers. A mystery unfolds when each member of the royal cabal utters the same words as they die: "You can't break Kresimir's promise." Tamas calls on Inspector Adamat to help sort out what those words mean and this leads to a story that unfolds over 3 books involving multiple nations, armies, and even gods.

The three main characters are Field Marshall Tamas, Inspector Adamat, and the Field Marshall's son, Taniel Two-Shot. Taniel earned his nickname because as a Powder Mage he is able to shoot two bullets at once to kill two different people. In what is perhaps the most interesting story line in book 1, Taniel is sent off by Tamas to kill the one remaining member of the Royal Cabal who survived the coup. That person is Privileged Borbador, who was raised by Tamas and happens to be Taniel's best friend.

Christian Rodska does a decent job at the narration and seems to be a good fit for the content.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful Fantasy set in Napoleonic-Era style tecn

I'm sick and tired of nobles, kings, emperors, dukes, lords, and knights. It looks like Brian McClellan feels the same way.

The narration was fantastic. Christian Rodska usually does great and this is no exception.

Main components are as follows:

* Oliver Cromwell style protagonist. "The age of kings is dead" indeed.
* Magic Musketeers, or "Powder Mages." They're super interesting and fun.
* Old Magic/Feudalism vs. New Magic/New Technology
* Frontiersman + Native Tribeswoman ala French/Indian war style groups.
* Old Gods and Ancient wizard creatures.

The Characters feel real and realized, the plot is interesting and fun, and the ending is satisfying and a good setup for the next book in the series.

Give it a try! :)

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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great book

I appologize in advance for not leaving a more detailed review. I appreciate the more thorough reviewers when i try to decide to buy a book, but thats not what you're going to get here.

Bottom line, it's a great read and I was downloading the sequel as soon as the narrator said the word Epilogue.

The main advice I have is not to let the civil war/gunpowder era setting discourage you like it did me. I had to remember how much I loved Sandersons Alloy of Law etc to realize that i could appreciate a somewhat more modernized application of a magic system if it is done well. And this story certainly delivers.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I LOVED THIS TRILOGY!!!

These books were really up my alley. They were fast paced with a variety of characters that were decent, not so decent and questionable. There was intrigue, betrayal, backstabbing, glory, and loss. Hell, even the battle scenes were good. It was full of action and kept me highly entertained, so much so that I read one book after the other. Usually when I come across such a find I like to savor it, but with these books the desire to know what happened next won out.

The narrator was good for the most part, except some of the younger characters sounded like they were in their sixties. There were some minor issues, but they didn't take away from the story as a whole.

This author is impressive and has an extraordinary imagination. This is a really enjoyable worthwhile series that I highly recommend. I can't wait to read more from him!!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Needs Some Polishing, But Has Great Potential

Honestly, it was really hard for me to get into this book. I wouldn't have finished it if the reviewers here hadn't have said it gets good about 2/3 into the story. They were right! The last third is quite exciting and worth the read. There's a fun story here. There's just a few issues that prevented me from fully enjoying it.

My first complaint is the writing style. It lacks polish. The pacing is all over the place. The chapters felt disjointed. Some parts were so rushed I was confused as to what happened. Other parts were so slow I was bored to tears.

The magic system is creative, but never explained very well. I often struggled to understand what was going on. I felt the collection of the three kinds of magic (Powder Mages, Knacked, Privileged) was very random. With so much variety, it felt like pretty much any kind of magic can happen in this world.

Adding to the confusion, there's a lot of side characters to keep track of. I honestly didn't know who was who until the end of the book.

The character development isn't particularly strong. The characters lack depth and I struggled to connect with them. Adamat is pretty boring. Taniel is a generic hero with a touch of daddy issues. Tamas is so grouchy that I didn't like him at first. As I got to know him better though, he really grew on me. He is perhaps the most complex character in the book. Ka-Poel really intrigued me and I hope to see more of her.

Okay, complaints aside, everything starts to come together in the final third of the book. This is when I felt like I was finally understanding all the different characters and events and how they were adding to the larger story. The pacing smooths out for an enjoyable ride building up to an exciting climax (albeit with an slightly abrupt ending). I enjoyed the last third so much it nearly made up for the slog of the first two thirds.

I guess overall I thought this book was flawed, but with great potential. I hear the next book improves a lot on this one, so I am excited to continue.

Christian Rodska did a poor job as narrator. He made several of the characters sound like grouchy old men. This made it hard to like the characters and distinguish them from one another. I nearly returned the book because this was so obnoxious. Also, his heavy accent made it hard to understand some words.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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First it was weird, but then AWESOME!!

At first when I started this book, I was thinking its going to be awesome because it was a recommendation from the great author Brandon Sanderson, as Brian McClellan was a student of his. But after a chapter or two, it had a bit of confusion in it. I have assumed that the detective is the lead character at first, then I got a bit lost with the names of some of the characters.

That was the down side, the plus side was is plenty: story was good, specially towards the end of the book. A great ending which lets you think what the hell is going to happen in the next book. some funny twists here and there. Narration was good Christian did a good job with the characters, although it could have been better.

What I recommend is after you listen to it the first time, to give it another listen so you would understand everything that is going on, specially the beginning.

Waiting for the next book to come, don't be late.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Plodding Tale with little character development

This book has such amazing reviews, I had to give it a shot. But McClellan is just not a good enough writer to pull it off.

I thought that this was a weak universe built on other authors efforts. The foundation here had me thinking often of Sandersons Mistborn stories. Its very similar in that some of the characters could wield magic. Those that could were kind of like Superman (indestructible hero's). I don't know why anyone would bother being in the army only to be used as cannon fodder for the delight of these super beings. Other than the fact that magic is used by some and gunpowder is being used as a sort of Mistborn elemental tool, this world built by McClellan is empty. He doesn't explore its streets or what makes it tick. Instead he tries to set up a few clashing enemies in a Game Of Thrones kind of way.

Characters here are very flat. McClellan jumps from one to another, but he does not do very much to distinguish them from each other (personality wise). Some of the motives behind these characters were laughable.

The narrator Rodska has a British accent. I'm not anti British accents, but here it got in the way of enjoying the book. It was hard enough to get past McClellans sub par writing with confusing names without also straining to interpret what Rodska was saying.

So this story is in my opinion poorly written, the characters are interchangeable twits, the plot is confusing and in retrospect silly, the universe built here is sub par, and the narration makes it even harder to get into what is going on. Stay away from this book. Try Patrick Rothfuss or Sandersons Way of the King instead.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Just couldn't get past the narration

I've never read Brian McClellan previously and purchased this on a friend's suggestion. They obviously read the paper version so were able to get into the story. I on the other hand grabbed the audio version and after suffering a mere 5 chapters had to quit.

The narrator, while eloquent, was a one trick pony that only had one character trait - "crotchety old man"

Every character sounded to similar and equally angry to the point of not giving me a chance to get attached to any of them.

Given time I may give McClellan a second chance and buy the physical book but for now I'll pass.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful