Viva la revolution! The country of Adro has
been languishing under an inept monarch who has been frittering away the royal treasury on
fripperies, while the people starve. Before said monarch can sell the country to their
enemy, a cabal led by Field Marshal Tamas, stage a military coup
just the start the King and his nobles all meeting the guillotine by the end of
chapter 5. Theres the question of the enemy Kez, their agents, stray royalists,
traitors to the cause
but the biggest problem is on the lips of dying sorcerers:
"You cant break Kresimers Promise". Unlike revolutionary France,
this is a magical world, and killing kings might have unexpected consequences like
the return of long vanished gods.
I have to say that I liked McClellans world. He gives us swords,
sorcery and gunpowder, and makes it work. He adds an original twist powder mages,
who can do remarkable things with bullets, for whom powder is power, and is a drug on many
levels. McClellan provides detailed maps, and they do appear to make some sense, which is
both an aid to the reader and forms a solid foundation for world building.
Unrelenting pace and a fine touch for action make this novel hard to put
down. The main characters hold your interest because they are described in sufficient
depth that the reader wants to learn more about them, their often-chequered past, and what
will happen to them. There is Tamas, the aging powder mage, leader of the coup, who hates
the enemy, the Kez, for what they did to his wife. There is his son Taniel, tasked with
hunting down the remnants of the Kings Cabal. And there is Adamant, a private
investigator with problems of own, who is assigned to find the traitor in Tamas
camp. For comic relief there was the mad chef Mihali; yet even here there is a serious nod
to gastronomy and its role in logistics and in maintaining morale that I quite
appreciated. Its appropriate too, because both the modern restaurant and the
soufflé had their beginnings in the French revolution.
Given that this is his first novel, a few glitches and inconsistencies can
be forgiven (and are often unnoticed in the rush of events), leaving us with a pretty
auspicious beginning both to this trilogy and to McClellans writing career.