Second entry in McClellan’s Gods of Blood and Powder fantasy series (Sins of Empire, 2017), in which the land of Fatrasta has been invaded by the armies and sorcerers of the vast Dynize empire.
To cement their recent reunion after a civil war, the Dynize want to create a new god and so seek godstones, ancient monoliths infused with magic powerful enough to achieve this. Taniel Two-shot, a former powder mage who killed a god in McClellan's previous trilogy, acquiring near godlike powers, and his companion, the enigmatic Ka-Poel, a mute bone-eye sorcerer, are utterly determined to prevent them. Because Taniel and Ka-Poel alone can detect the godstones, which are concealed by potent magic, Taniel joins up with Gen. Vlora Flint and her Riflejack mercenaries, previously hired by Lady Chancellor Lindet to defend the capital and now shepherding a mob of refugees away from Dynize attacks, while Ka-Poel accompanies Col. Ben Styke and his Mad Lancers, who, deprived of their magic armor, are still a formidable but no longer invincible fighting force. Meanwhile, in the now occupied capital, former Blackhat spy Michel Bravis worms his way into the good graces of the occupying Dynize bureaucracy in order to make contact with the mysterious informant promised by Taniel. McClellan continues to add depth and richness to his characters and backdrop, swirls in some intriguing plot twists and complications, and sprinkles enough desperate fighting to satisfy the most insistently sanguineous readers. Possible cavils include excessive length, a dearth of truly jaw-dropping moments, and no claim to independent intelligibility—although many fans will account these as strengths.
McClellan’s design and construction grow steadily more impressive with each fresh installment.