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Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan
Book Name: Wrath of Empire
Author: Brian McClellan
Publisher(s): Orbit Books
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Epic Fantasy
Release Date: May 15, 2018 (US) May 17, 2018 (UK)

This is the second instalment of the Gods of Blood and Powder series and follows the events of the first book, Sins of Empire, with the same three perspectives. The trilogy is set in the same world as his original Powder Mage trilogy. I would categorise it, and his other books, as an epic military flintlock fantasy. This is a review of a sequel so there may be minor spoilers ahead, but I will not be discussing the plot in detail. It was one of my most anticipated book releases of 2018.

Once again, McClellan manages to combine action, intrigue and magic to create a fantastic fantasy story. I loved the first book, so I had high hopes for this sequel and McClellan surpassed them. Firstly, the perspectives were more evenly distributed between the characters – it was great to see more from Taniel and Ka-poel. The use of multiple perspectives allows the reader to see more of the world and get a better understanding of the events unfolding. Each perspective is distinctive and compelling. A lot of the time with multiple perspective I find one more compelling than the others but that was not the case here.

In terms of the plot, I enjoyed every minute of it. McClellan does a fantastic job weaving all of the threads together and keeping you guessing throughout the book. There are so many twists and turns. There were a few moments I thought I knew where we were headed but then new things came to light and it went in a completely different direction. The plot is intricately woven, but it never felt confusing and it never dragged. The build-up of tension is also really well done.

One aspect that I love is the strategy/tactics. McClellan continues to deliver them so well. There are also some fantastic action and battle scenes. The overall pacing was also very well done. I found with the first book that the pacing was quite slow at times because we were being introduced to this new series. In the sequel, however, it is more fast paced. And even with the faster pacing, McClellan still manages to develop the complex plot and characters without sacrificing anything. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down.

The worldbuilding and magic system are another strength of the trilogy. In Wrath of Empire we continue to learn more about the world. The characters are now on the move, so we get to explore a lot more. The magic system is once again fantastic. To put it briefly, there are four types of magic in this world; Knacked, Privileged, Powder Mages (Marked) and Bone eyes.

The first two draw power from the Else, while a Powder Mage draws power from gun powder. Little is known of Bone eye magic, but it seems to be similar to voodoo in some ways and comes from blood magic. Obviously, this is only a very brief explanation. But, these unique systems are one of the main strengths of the series and I’m excited to see how some characters powers are developed in the next book. I can’t help but feel that with a few of the characters we are only scratching the surface of their power.

Speaking of the characters, I thought their development was fantastic. There are so many wonderful characters in this book and the trilogy as a whole. We get to see familiar faces as well as some new ones. Each character is complex with well thought out back. McClellan also did a great job at developing their relationships with each other. It was such a pleasure to see both old and new relationships develop throughout the 600 pages.

Overall, this is an excellent continuation from book one and I cannot wait for the third and final book, Blood of Empire, to be released. I cannot rate this trilogy highly enough, although I would definitely suggest reading the Powder Mage trilogy before starting this one. If you enjoyed the first book, then I think you will love the sequel too. If you haven’t read these books yet, then I highly recommend checking them out. At this moment, the third book has no release date or cover, but I believe it is being released sometime next year (2019).


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