SINS OF EMPIRE
Written by Brian McClellan
Published by Orbit, March 7th, 2017 (**not yet released**)
My star rating: 5 stars
An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the same world as his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy, 10 years later. The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires. The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present. As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries. (Goodreads)
Wow. All I have to say is wow. This book was incredible! If Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows were to have a baby, this would be their love child. Oh, and maybe add in a little sprinkle of Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants.
I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I read the synopsis and was instantly hooked, but I’ve never read anything from Brian McClellan before so I was apprehensive. I was especially apprehensive when I found out that this was a continuation of an original trilogy (Powder Mage trilogy) just set 10 years later. Not having read the trilogy first had both pro’s and con’s. Con – The powder mage’s were never fully explained. I wish that I had more knowledge of how their powers worked and how the powder itself worked, but there was sufficient enough information to get the basics. Second con was not knowing the whole back story of the characters past and their relationships, however, each aspect was fully explained and I was never lost. In a way, this point was also a pro because when things were revealed I was pleasantly shocked and surprised at how they all intertwined. Another pro to reading this first is I now plan on reading the original trilogy and it will act as a prequel.
Now if you love high/epic fantasy, I can assure you that this is probably one of the most well written and captivating fantasy novels I’ve ever read. Sometimes, when starting a new fantasy series, the first 100 pages or so are a bit of a drag. You’re thrust into a new world with magical or political elements and it takes a while for the fog to clear, to build the world, familiarize yourself with large groups of characters, and learn the plot. I didn’t get that with this book at all. The writing was solid , everything felt comfortable and familiar, and I was immediately excited to dive in. Also with epic fantasy novels, it seems as though there’s a lot of high and low points. This book stayed on a steady fast pace and every time you thought you knew what was going on something would happen and turn the whole book on its heels.
This book balanced being both plot and character driven to perfection. Each and every character was so interesting and immediately likeable in their own way. There were so many different types of characters as well; everything ranging from criminals, war heroes, spies, generals, sorcerers, and political figures. It was easy to keep each characters points of view straight and the plot weaves through each one and ties them all together both in the past and the present. Secrets were held back and revealed at just the right time and it was such an amazing adventure (especially for me not having previous knowledge of these characters and their past) to try and figure out who was working together or against each other. So many times throughout the book I sat there with my mouth open in pure shock that I didn’t see things coming. I loved the aspects of good VS evil, and the balance between magic, brute strength, and smarts. And man these characters were smart!
I don’t normally add or bookmark quotes, but there were a few amazing lines that made me giggle and completely set the tone for this book (Please be aware that this is coming from an unedited copy and these may not be printed in the finished copy):
Jogging aside, it was said that Fidelis Jes had not truly started his day until he’d had a cup of coffee and killed a man.
“This isn’t about revenge,” Styke said. “This is because you’re an asshole.”
I HIGHLY recommend this book! As I said above, this is one of the best fantasy novels I’ve ever read. Super fast paced, plot twists around every corner, well written characters, and magical elements. If you have or haven’t read Brian McClellan’s novels before, I guarantee you will become a fan after this one! Enjoy!