I don’t even know where to start with this book. I guess I’ll begin somewhat slow, because that’s how the book started.
The world McClellan created is right where I want it to be when reading fantasy. It has enough, and not too much. I can keep track of everything without feeling like I need to take notes. For me, it was a great balance.
Okay, that was the first 70 pages; slow and setting up a bit. Then...
HOLY CRAP! This book took off right around page 70, and I swear I never wanted to put it down after that.
First, the magic in this was simply incredibly entertaining. There are three basic types we learn about early on: the Privileged, Knacked, and Powder Mages. So the Privileged are pretty badass and have a wide array of spells available. They’re hard to kill. So that’s fun, nothing too new, right? Then we get to the Knacked. Each have a very specific skill: can pick a lock without using anything, don’t need sleep, can eat crazy amounts of food, and so on. Those were interesting and beefed up the story quite a bit. Then there’s the powder mages. LOVED. THEM. They can, obviously by their name, control gun powder. They blew people in half! IN HALF!! They were insanely fun to read about. I never felt like I wasn’t in a fantasy novel. I never felt like it didn’t belong. It was amazing.
I’m so happy I finally read this. When I saw that this book actually had cannons and guns, I figured I’d never get around to it. I love my traditional fantasy and was worried this would be a far cry from magical. But when I read about all the different types of mages, I admit I was curious. Then I read that it was about a coup, and I almost didn’t pick it up because I thought it’d be crammed full of political intrigue that would bore me to tears. Then I saw McClellan’s booth at Phoenix Comicon and I remembered a review I had read by Drunken Dragon where he talked about a book filled with action and a nice bit of blood shed. Well, I do like violent books, and the author was right there, so I picked it up, McClellan signed it, and I stuffed it in my bookcase. I was still reluctant. When I finally got around to reading it, the first 70 pages had me teetering. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t crazy. Then the crap hit the fan and I was addicted. If there needed to be a scene involving factions or politics, it was usually followed up with some sort of action, or action was happening during the scene. I didn’t have a chance to be bored! Not to mention there was another subplot that really didn’t have much to do with politics at all, but rather gods. The two story lines came together beautifully and I enjoyed both.
So the magic blew me away and the story kept me glued to this book. Characters? Well, in the beginning I really didn’t like Tamas. I wanted to slap him. He just seemed like kind of a jerk. Towards the middle, I was warming up to him. By the end, I thought he was amazing. I found his son, Taniel, uninteresting in the beginning, but I got behind him before I’d finished the first quarter of the book. By the end, I loved him. Olem was a great character and added a bit of lightness that was needed. Thoroughly enjoyed him the entire book. I’m not character crazy about any of them, but between my strong fondness for them, my infatuation with the magic, and my enjoyment of the story, I couldn’t put this down. For me, it was incredible.
In my opinion, McClellan’s writing is exactly what I love. It was vivid and flowed wonderfully.
I’ve already bought the second book and plan to read it this weekend. Soooo, yeah, I’m obsessed. I mean, people exploded! I cannot recommend this book enough!