Second entry in the Powder Mage trilogy (Promise of Blood, 2013), something like a fantasy French Revolution with seriously weird wizards.
The narrative follows the fortunes of three key figures. Field Marshal Tamas, a powder mage, one who eats or snorts gunpowder in order to gain magic powers, overthrew the monarchy and slaughtered the aristocracy and the Cabal of evil wizards that sustained them. Adamat, a retired police inspector with a perfect memory, investigates conspirators and traitors. Tamas’ disaffected son, Taniel, a powder mage and master marksman, helped Tamas defend Adro against the invading Kez and killed the god Kresimir. Taniel’s companion is Ka-poel, a young, mute barbarian female whose powerful magics are unlike those of other mages. Now the Kez attack again, this time with a vast army and impossibly fast, strong Wardens created by the magic of Kresimir, who’s evidently not as dead as Taniel hoped. Tamas schemes to stem the invasion by leading his best troops in an unexpected flank attack, but he soon finds himself cut off behind enemy lines, without supplies or reinforcements, and facing a long, dangerous road home. In Adro, Inspector Adamat’s wife and children are being held hostage by the psychopathic Lord Vetas. With Tamas and his powder mages missing and presumed dead, Taniel angrily leads the defense against the Kez hordes. Tamas' generals, however, inexplicably fall back instead of holding the line and haughtily dismiss Taniel’s insubordinate complaints. Kresimir, meanwhile, seeks the man who shot him in the eye. This book is less relentlessly inventive than the inaugural volume but still impressively distinctive and pungent, with solid plotting and exceptional action sequences.
A reliably rewarding installment that will keep appetites whetted for the conclusion.