Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it
It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king…
Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.
But when gods are involved…
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…
The first part of the series…it was supposed to blow my mind. It was supposed to make me overawed and so very eager to find out more. Only it didn’t.
I admit it: it was all fast-paced, with accents relocated properly within the story. I enjoyed especially the narrative of Adamat, a private investigator employed by Tamas who then was blackmailed into treason. I also liked Mihali the super-cook and an aspiring god who could feed the whole army with no tangible resources at hand. The rest I glossed over. Why? There were no strong female characters which could make the story a tad less masculine and adrenaline-fuelled even if, officially, both sides didn’t lack females, kick-ass and not so kick-ass. What’s worse, there was no sense of humour. Tamas was a sad powder keg, constantly hovering near the edge of a collapse and mourning his late wife. Taniel was a frantic powder junkie running from one mission to the other just to forget his cheating ex-fiancee. Ka-poel, a mute voodoo sidekick, seemed to exist only to save Taniel’s life (or have her life saved by him in turn). She could have been good but she was mute, ha, ha so we knew close to nothing about her character. There were also some plot-holes and not all of the characters’ actions made sense but it bothered me less than it should, what, with all that skimming and jumping.
Add to that an inconsistent, incompetent world build, full of powder mages and Privileged whose skills and superhuman abilities could change in a blink of an eye and gods who weren’t gods until they were, but not like you imagined. Sounds convoluted? So was my impression. It seemed to me the author didn’t think out his ideas as thoroughly as he should have.
Add to that a fantasy version of the Great French Revolution which was presented in a very sketchy way and lasted days instead of years but changed hardly anything. It bothered me that Tamas decided to overthrow a dynasty without even planning his next two-three steps. Perhaps it mirrored well the author’s plot-building skills (‘I’ll patch this and that later…oups, I’ve forgotten about it entirely,’) but it certainly didn’t make me impressed.
Finally the novel ended with a cliffhanger – something which didn’t improve my mood either.
Promise of Blood does indeed promise you a lot. Unfortunately, when it comes to crucial elements, it doesn’t deliver. In my very humble opinion the author lacks some knowledge about issues he was writing about, military strategy and believable magic system being at the top of the list. Meh.