Every once and a while I pick up a book that makes me want to quit writing. It’s so good, so well thought out, so incredibly written, that I can’t help but think to myself that I will never, ever be this good and I can just quit. I love these books. The Name of the Wind is probably the best example of this.
Promise of Blood is another.
The basic premise is about a coup that ends with the execution of a nation’s king. There is a lot about why they overthrew him and how bad he was as a ruler, but that has little bearing. It seems like the people who overthrew him were really just sick of his shit, and had their own personal vendettas to boot.
Everything is well written and the characters are great, but what I love, absolutely adore, is the magic. The world is pretty simple (from what I can see in the first book) with nine nations who were supposedly founded by nine saints and a god. It’s a world just entering its industrial age, with themes of English colonialism, etc. Pretty basic stuff, but the impression I got was that there is a great deal more to all of this and we were just getting a glimpse. That is a powerful world building technique, because it feels natural.
But the magic is what sets it apart, and Mr. McClellan sets it up so well. In the first chapter you are presented with the aftermath of a battle, introduced to all the characters, and all the magic is laid out for you. There are a few different classes of mage, but in those first few pages they give each class their distinction, spending the rest of the book fleshing everything out.
I won’t ruin the premise of the magic, just know that they’re unique, fun, and powerful. It has a very cinematic feel, a lot of action, and excellent buildup for all these incredibly destructive moments. Very little feels over the top, and eve the most powerful mages are vulnerable.
I greatly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the second.