Title: Wrath of Empire.
Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #2.
Writer(s): Brian McClellan.
Release Date: December 4th 2018 (first published May 15th 2018).
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
Previously on Gods of Blood and Powder:
Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan.
Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of everything, you just don’t see things through the same lenses as others. It’s even more conspicuous when you’re a mercenary in the middle of a war and modulate your actions strictly to complete the task given to you. The duty thus precedes your own well-being, and nothing else matters until you grow attached to the people around you and understand that it’s not always possible to block out these hurdles within you. Award-winning author Brian McClellan continues his foray into a land of magic and mayhem while further solidifying his impeccable storytelling abilities as he proves the world that he’s a fantasy writer like none other. Incredibly easy to dive into, as its characters instantaneously immerse you in the world, the story continues to throw plot twists after plot twists at every corner that not even the most adept sorcerer could ever see coming.
What is Wrath of Empire about? Picking up right where it left off in Sins of Empire, the story throws us right in a country festered with rebels and refugees as the nation of Fatrasta embraces a full-blown war. While Colonel Ben Styke and his mad lancers are hired for a strange and hair-raising mission led by General Vlora Flint, consisting of finding ancient monoliths with sorcerous infused magic known as godstones, the former Blackhat spy Michel Bravis is out on a mission where smuggling out an unknown target within the enemies’ forces puts his life in more danger than he has ever known before. The civil war hence continues to brew whilst tension is high among victims and perpetrators. Stopping the Dynize empire from obtaining the godstones before they create a new god is thus a priority that just can’t be overlooked.
Set in the same universe as his original Powder Mage trilogy, this second installment in Brian McClellan’s Gods of Blood and Powder series continues to explore the vast land of Fatrasta with various characters making a return in this sequel. Split in three distinct narratives, allowing Styke, Flint, and Bravis to each present their points of view, the story embarks on another raucous, action-packed and breathtaking adventure where military planning and politics are harmoniously intertwined with character development. With each of these characters, Brian McClellan challenges them both internally and externally and brings them to reflect on their actions and what they have become today. It’s the introspection that makes it so appealing to follow them in their endeavours.
The richness of the world is also undeniably prodigious with so much strategy put into the movements of each squad within the dangerous plain fields of Fatrasta. What’s really surprising is that the plans that are executed aren’t solely physical, like moving a chess piece. Every decision and action is backed with a hefty amount of psychological warfare which elevates this novel’s exquisite qualities tenfold. The action sequences perfectly spread out throughout the novel, from Ben Styke’s revenge plots to Michel Bravis’ bloody encounters, also allow for some of the most poignant sequences in this book. This chiefly highlighted Brian McClellan’s exquisite ability to effortlessly illustrate cinematic and gruesome battles. Do not fret; these moments are so authentic that you can’t help yourself from finding them disturbingly beautiful.
Wrath of Empire is an outstanding entry in the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy as Brian McClellan dives further into the psyche of his characters while he sets the table for the anarchy to come.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me a copy for review!