PROMISE OF BLOOD
Debut novelist McClellan wastes no time in setting his story in motion with the brutal execution of the land’s king and queen. The opening chapters spin a web full of complex but sympathetic characters involved in the overthrow of a corrupt court and the nobility, and the problems inherent in establishing a new order. The political intrigue here is more interesting than the magic, but the world of the privileged sorcerers and the strange abilities of the powder mages who can manipulate gunpowder are just as well drawn in this captivating universe.
A sea of violence sweeps in as field marshal Tamas has killed the king for a mix of personal and political reasons. The city of Adopest is in chaos as the revolutionaries struggle to decide on a direction for the broken country while aiming to satisfy their own ends. Retired police inspector Adamat must hunt down the meaning behind a cryptic riddle left by the slaughtered nobility, but finds his aims thwarted by someone or something that wants to keep the secret hidden. (ORBIT, Apr., 560 pp, $23.99)