- Blood of Empire
Author: Brian McClellan
- Series: Gods of Blood and Powder
- ISBN: 9780356509334
- Published: December 2019
- Pages: 652
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 25/11/2020
- Language: English
Fantasy is known as an epic genre; stories can span generations and civilisations rise and fall. As a fan of the genre, you also notice some regular tropes that occur, similar races and similar storylines. Within the pages of Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy and follow up threesome Gods of Blood and Powder the author has been able to produce great books that feel like fantasy but are also have their own style and voice. Blood of Empire is the final book. Can it possibly live up to expectations and create a fitting finale to some of the greatest fantasy books that this reviewer has ever read?
Events are coming to a head. The enemy have captured the city and they have possession of the remaining God Stone. It seems that it is only a matter of time until the stone is activated, and a new God is formed. Vlora, Styke and Michel are all in their own way trying to prevent this. Vlora has formed an illegal army to stop the transportation of God Stone. Styke has travelled to a foreign land to strike at the very heart of the enemy whilst Michel has remained to cause insurrection and rebellion on the home front. Three sperate paths, all with a slim chance of victory, but will it be enough?
The fundamental element that has made all of McClellan’s books set in the Powder universe so great is his world building. By this book we are six in and several thousand pages. The politics and people are well known but the world they populate feels as fresh as ever. This is fantasy not made of Elves and Dwarves, but Gun Powder and Death Magic. The various countries have invested in their own style of warfare that results in a rock, paper, scissor style affair – or Powder magic, berserker, necromancy. Vlora now commands an army, but she cannot adopt the same tactics against all enemies as they may pose different threats or defences.
The consequences of the characters actions are now heightened as they are only days away from the enemy birthing a God whose first task will be to destroy all its foes. There is a lot of movement in the book as Vlora and Styke move towards their target. Only Michel gets to stay in one place. For fans of the earlier books this is great for seeing some of the other parts of the world and especially the city and politics of the enemy.
As this is the final outing for many of these beloved characters, McClellan gives the book time to breath. The pacing is slower than his previous novels as more time is spent exploring the characters and their emotions. This is a great piece of fan service as it allows long term readers a better sense of closure as they get one last chance to really understand what makes the likes of Styke tick. This does mean that it is almost impenetrable for a new reader, but anyone starting an epic fantasy series on book three or series two is always in trouble.
In places the book does feel a little baggy but when the action hots up, McClellan is able to provide his signature brilliant action and battles. There is a darkness at the heart of the book that has always been in the series but is more prevalent as the end is foreshadowed. As a series, Blood offers a fitting conclusion for the fans as it provides time spent with favourite characters. It is not quite as action orientated as others in the series, but by 3000 pages or so over six books, the world of Powder Mages deserves an intelligent and heartfelt send off.
Written on 25th November 2020 by Sam Tyler .