The Age of Kings is dead. And I have killed it.
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sends corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brings bread to the starving. But it also provokes war in the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics and greedy scrambling for money and power by Tamas’ supposed allies: the Church, workers’ unions, and mercenary forces. Stretched to his limit, Tamas relies heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be Tamas’ estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty will be tested to its limit.
Now, amid the chaos, a whispered rumour is spreading. A rumour about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods returning to walk the Earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing…. But perhaps they should.
Author: Brian McClellan
Narrator: Christian Rodska
Running Time: 19 hrs
Publisher: Hatchet Audio UK
Audio Release Date: 16/04/2013
My Rating of ‘Promise of Blood’: 4 out of 5
Purchase: Audible UK
Love the cover of this book. It just has so much appeal to it. A haggard, tired-looking man sat upon a throne clutching a musket. Considering the subject matter (most of which is described in the blurb) this is very poignant. And what a blurb! Not read one that gives such a complete overview, without making you feel like you have been given too much.
Promise of Blood is an excellent novel that blends fantasy and historical fiction. Don’t worry, if you have a hatred of historical fiction, this is set in a purely fantasy setting. It just uses historical influences or weapons such as muskets etc …
If I was to give one negative about Promise of Blood, it would be that the author uses very similar names for some characters. This isn’t a problem as the story progresses, as you grow used to them. But, when just starting out, I found that it became confusing. It probably wouldn’t be as big of a deal in kindle or paperback formats due to having the spelling right in front of you.
The characters themselves are very well fleshed out. My personal favourite being Olem, Field Marshall Tamas’ bodyguard. He has one of my favourite lines in the book (I’m paraphrasing here as I don’t have the actual quote to hand)
Tamas: You punched your old employer in the mouth?
Olem. Yes, sir.
Olem: He shot my dog, sir.
Tamas: What would you do if I shot your dog?
Olem: I’d punch you in the bloody mouth as well!
The magic system in Promise of Blood is quite varied. We have full-blown sorcerers (the Privileged) who use special gloves to touch the ether. We have people who have minor abilities that manifest in one particular talent (the Knacked). There are Powder Mages who can … well … do pretty nasty things if gun powder is present.
Going back to the historical influence, it has a very revolutionary feel to it what with the dethroning of the king at the start and the ripples from said event spread out into an ever-widening network of subplots.
It isn’t just magic and shooting. Promise of Blood has a more subtle aspect to it as well where the character of Adamat is concerned. Where the powder mages are off sniping people with their potent powder skills, and the Privileged are casting their magics, Adamat, the retired policeman, is going about some good old-fashioned police work. This less that fantastical aspect of the novel adds a good deal of realism to balance the piece out.
I mentioned one slight negative earlier on and I will add a second one here: I felt that the ending would pack more of a punch than it did. Everything was building up to a certain something coming to pass and then, when the end came, I was left feeling kind of underwhelmed.
That being said, Promise of Blood genuinely has everything in it from military coups to church intrigue to near-gang warfare and even a bit of god-summoning. It is certainly well worth 19 hours of anyone’s listening time.
The narration is a very high standard with consistently good accents throughout. And, as anyone would expect from modern day releases of audio books, the production is also to a high standard.