Conclusion to McClellan’s Gods of Blood and Powder fantasy trilogy (Wrath of Empire, 2018, etc.), in which politicking assumes as much importance as magic and armies.
Dynize blood sorcerer Ka-Sedial intends to secure the three ancient monoliths known as godstones in order to make himself into a god, and he invades Fatrasta to capture two of them. Giant warrior Ben Styke, accompanied by Ka-Poel, the mute bone-eye sorcerer (and Ka-Sedial's grandaughter) whose magic can detect the stones, plans to attack Dynize and locate the third godstone. But a storm scatters Styke and Ka-Poel's ships and strands them with only 20 lancers. Worse, the stone is already under Ka-Sedial's control, forcing them to forgo brute force and attempt diplomacy. Ka-Poel's husband, Taniel, despite his near godlike powers, spends most of the book trying to catch up with them. Gen. Vlora Flint, grievously wounded and bereft of her gunpowder magic, burns for revenge yet must engage more Dynize armies and endure political interference. Ex-spy Michel Bravis and Ka-Poel's sister Ichtracia, a Privileged sorcerer, try to learn why so many Palo are mysteriously disappearing. McClellan tells an intriguing tale. Still, alert readers will wonder why the book's villain, having quickly solved his main problem, then does nothing for hundreds of pages and why many of the characters that add salt and spice to the proceedings spend too long offstage or just form wallpaper. True, the author doesn't do politics nearly as effectively as he does magic and battles, and he wrings out few surprising plot twists. His prior novels, with their hero Field Marshal Tamas, cast an unfortunately deep shadow: Tamas is one of the great fantasy heroes of recent years, and nobody here comes close.
Solid and absorbing but not the tour de force the Powder Mage trilogy was.