The Promise of Blood has been on my fantasy radar for a while; however, now that the trilogy is complete, I felt that I could safely invest my time since I wouldn’t be left with any cliffhangers and facing a long wait until the next book’s publication date. The Promise of Blood lived up to the hype that it earned and I’m ready to dive into book two.
The Promise of Blood begins in the midst of revolution. Field Marshal Tamas has staged a coup against the king and won, which is when the book really begins.
“I did this for me,” Tamas said. “And I did this for Adro. So that Manhouch wouldn’t sign us all into slavery to the Kez with the Accords. I did it because those grumbing university students of philosophy at the university only play at rebellion. The age of kings is dead, Adamat, and I have killed it.” (p. 10)
Overthrowing the king is easy for Tamas (the king was not a popular dude). It’s what happens after the king’s execution that causes problems. There’s a power vacuum and there are many that don’t think Tamas or his co-conspirators should be the ones to fill it. And, just to make this more interesting there’s a mysterious, magical consequence to the execution of the king – it just might have woken the gods. Now Tamas has to re-establish government, discover traitors within his inner circle, and deal with the impending apocalypse (because, you know, waking the gods never results in anything good).
What I really liked about The Promise of Blood is the multiple perspectives used by the author to convey a fuller picture of a world in flux. Readers are treated to Tamas’ problems and his internal motivations for staging the rebellion – and it’s not just for the greater good. Then, we see things through Adamat, the investigator who has been charged by Tamas to discover the truth concerning the prophecies about the waking gods. Next up, is Tamas’ son, Taniel, who’s struggling with his responsibilities as a soldier and as the son of the man that’s just overthrown the king. And lastly, we have Nila who is a laundress and Royalists, giving readers a much needed alternative perspective to the revolution. Together these characters show the various aspects of revolution and the far-reaching implications for the change in government.
While there is a good deal of time spent on exploring the concept of revolution and describing the world and its system of magic, for me, what grabbed my attention is the characters. Yes, each character was a vehicle to show something about the larger conflict, but each was far more than that with their personal motivations and relationships. In particular, I found the father and son relationship between Tamas and Taniel to be the most interesting. This pair has a very strained relationship. Tamas treats Taniel more like one of his soldiers than as a son, and it’s very clear that this has had some pretty serious repercussions. Since I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff, I loved this element to the story. The author has done a great job in creating these characters and it’s them that will have me back for book two not the conflict of the waking gods (although that too is interesting).
The Promise of Blood is a really good flintlock fantasy, which you can take with a gain of salt considering that I haven’t read widely in this genre. I’m a huge fan of Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series and I’m happy to report that McClellan trilogy is a great stand-in for that series. The characters are interesting, the world is in the midst of revolution, and there’s magic. This one is perfect for fans of character-driven military fantasies.
As mentioned, Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaign series is great companion series to McClellan’s. Like McClellan, Wexler’s characters are so well created it’s hard not to care about them. The themes (i.e. revolution) in both are also similar and are likely to appeal. Don’t believe me, check out my reviews of book 1, book 2 or book 3. I can’t recommend this series enough! Start with book 1, The Thousand Names.
If you’re a fan of character driven fantasy, Erin Lindsey’s Bloodbound series is also a good choice. While I had mixed feelings about book one, The Bloodbound, it’s follow-up, The Bloodforged really impressed. If you were intrigued by the inter-personal relationships between the characters (like the potential romance between Taniel and his companion, Po) you’re likely to enjoy Lindsey’s ensemble tale.
The whole concept of the Privileged in The Promise of Blood kind of reminded me of Philippa Ballantine’s Book of the Order series. There’s this whole group of magically talented people whose job it is to protect the general public from geists and like the Privileged, their whole mandate is about to get shook up. If you interested in the magic system in The Promise of Blood, Ballantine will likely appeal. Start with book one, Geist.