First of a fantasy trilogy, sort of a French Revolution with wizards; McClelland’s debut packs some serious heat.
“The Age of Kings is dead...and I have killed it” declares Field Marshal Tamas, having overthrown the self-indulgent and utterly uncaring monarch who not only bankrupted the state of Adro and left his people starving, but intended to sell what was left to powerful, warlike and covetous neighbor Kez. Tamas, a powder mage, one who eats or snorts gunpowder in order to gain magic powers, slaughtered the monarch’s royal cabal of Privileged mages and now proceeds to guillotine the remaining aristocracy, feed the people and set up a ruling council. He asks Adamat, a retired police inspector with a perfect memory, to discover what the mysterious Kresimir’s Promise might mean. Tamas must still deal with assaults by royalist fanatics, power struggles among his supposed allies (the church, workers unions and mercenary forces), and his own disaffected son Taniel, a powder mage and master marksman. Taniel’s companion is Ka-poel, a young, mute barbarian female whose powerful magics are unlike those of other mages. Julene, posing as a hunter of Privileged, turns out to be something else altogether. Mihali, possibly quite mad in claiming to be the son of a god, indeed proves to be a master chef, evidently with the ability to conjure food out of thin air. If that’s not enough, Adamat discovers there’s a traitor among the ruling council. And then the Kez attack. This is a stew of splendidly diverse and flavorsome ingredients, outstanding action sequences and well-handled, relentless if sometimes overelaborate plotting, despite some worrisome indications than McClellan hasn’t fully thought all the concepts through.
A thoroughly satisfying yarn that should keep readers waiting impatiently for further installments.