Last night I finished reading Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan.
It’s apparently his first novel, and let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve read a debut that was this impressive since I finished Lies of Locke Lamora. I was utterly captivated and could not put this book down. The world building was some of the best I’ve ever encountered, putting Jordan, Tolkien and Sanderson to shame. The dialogue was crisp and to the point, although, I didn’t feel as though it was terribly innovative or compelling. But it certainly never lagged.
The story really follows 3 distinct storylines, Adamast, the investigator who is attempting to solve some political puzzles/historical puzzles, Tamas, the general who leads the coup against the King in the first two chapters, and his subsequent political struggles, and Taniel, the son of Tamas who struggles to find his place between family, duty, and friendship. I certainly found Tamas the most intriguing of the characters, and a good chunk of the story is devoted to him, much to my enjoyment. His depth was apparent from his first foray in the story, and I couldn’t help but like him.
I found Taniel uninspired. He was generic and cliche. Maybe I’m not supposed to like him? I was unsure, but I never hated him. Just…wanted to get past his bits to more Tamas.
Adamast had the least compelling story, but was much better written then Taniel. I’ve got to be honest though. Any complaints I have are me stretching to find something besides praise for an excellent story.
My only real complaint was I felt the story lacked direction in an underlying way. There was no common threat to tie these characters together, and while at times their stories converged, it felt somewhat disjointed during the climax. Maybe I’m too used to the common idea of a single “villain” or “big bad” and I couldn’t get my head around anything different.
Regardless, this is easily the best fantasy book of the decade for me, and I already ordered the sequel. I fully intend to reread Promise of Blood today/tomorrow, and then dive right into the second book! And all the short stories. Oof.