Cover Image: Blood of Empire

Blood of Empire

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Member Reviews

A great conclusion for a great series!
The character development, the world building and the well crafted plot were amazing as usual and I found it an excellent and entertaining read.
Strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Las dos trilogías de los Powder Mage son de los libros de fantasía que más he disfrutado en los últimos años, por muchas razones, así que reseñar la última entrega me provoca sentimientos encontrados. Me gusta que la historia haya encontrado un final y que no se alargue artificialmente, pero también me apena no volver a saber de unos personajes con los que he acabado creando un vínculo emocional.

McClellan ha movido sus piezas con maestría y previsión, de forma que la tensión está en niveles máximos desde el principio del libro. El malvado Ka-Sedial tiene en su poder casi la totalidad de los artefactos que necesita para llevar a cabo su plan, y aunque Vlora, Ka-Poel, Ben Styke y Michel Bravis (entre otros) están intentando jugar sus cartas, la situación se presenta muy adversa.
El autor maneja el tempo de la lectura con gran maestría, con los habituales cambios de vista con cada nuevo capítulo, pero dejando un punto ciego con el desarrollo de los planes de Ka-Sedial que añade el necesario elemento de incertidumbre para el desarrollo de la trama. Las acciones de los personajes y su maduración alcanza las más altas cotas de sacrificio dentro de la epicidad de la propia historia. No se le podría pedir mucho más a la novela en este aspecto.
También tenemos batallas de grandes dimensiones y duelos personales, masas enfurecidas y levantamientos populares, y en general, acción a raudales.
Por desgracia, hay algunos momentos en que la inocencia de algunas acciones roza el absurdo. Estos actos son necesarios para alcanzar el gran final que desea el escritor, pero lo cierto es exigir demasiado al lector que se trague ese anzuelo. Ojalá se hubiera desenvuelto de alguna otra manera para no tener que dar ese triple salto de credulidad, porque hubiera sigo una obra redonda. 
No obstante, estos detalles se acaban perdonando por la empatía que me han despertado los personajes y porque la historia en sí merece la pena. Un colofón muy adecuado para una historia que no entiendo cómo todavía no está en español.
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ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

Six years after the first publication of Promise of Blood, it’s time to say goodbye to the Powder Mage universe.

Blood of Empire is the third and last book in the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy. McClellan has also said that this will be the final novel in the Powder Mage universe, and there’s a chance there won’t be any new full-novel in this universe, at least not for years because McClellan has a new series—Glass Immortals—coming in 2022. So overall, was this a satisfying conclusion to the saga? I’ll say yes. I have a few issues with it that prevent me from giving it a full 5-stars rating, but overall I’m satisfied. There aren’t many things that I can say regarding the details of the plotline without going into spoiler territory, and I don’t want to do that, so I’ll get into what worked for me and a few things that in my opinion would’ve made this final book more awesome.

“Styke was willing to put up with all sorts of creeping things for the sake of an ambush. He would not, however, allow a man to piss on him.”

Every time I talk to readers and fans of McClellan’s work, the majority have agreed that McClellan is very well-known for his fast-paced and action-packed oriented storyline. Contrary to The Powder Mage trilogy, every installment in Gods of Blood and Powder adapts a slow-burn story that escalates towards a big explosive conclusion. Both Sins of Empire and Wrath of Empire uses the same method, and the situation is even more apparent in Blood of Empire where the big action sequences happened only at the final 15% of the novel. McClellan has spent a lot of time building the setup towards reaching the final confrontation set piece. In fact, out of all six novels in the Powder Mage universe, it felt like this is the one where action scenes happened the least. It’s different from the first trilogy but it’s not a bad thing per se. It may be slower relatively, but McClellan was still able to tell a compelling story without neglecting the high focus on characterizations, relationship developments, and politics. Cultural differences, greed, faith, responsibilities, loyalty, love, and learning from mistakes were some of the patent themes used effectively to enrich the narrative in Blood of Empire.

“I’m an officer. A shitty one, most of the time. But I’ve always protected my men from the injustice of tyrants. It’s one of my few good qualities, and I’ve reached the age that I’m just not going to let that go.”

The main characters in this series, especially Ben Styke, Celine, and Michel Bravis, are some of the best characters McClellan has ever written in his career so far. As I’ve mentioned in my previous review, Ben Styke is up there with Taniel Two-Shot and Ka-poel for being my favorite characters in the saga. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, once again, I enjoyed reading the character’s development of these characters. I loved reading the interaction between Styke and Celine and Ka-poel; I loved reading Michel’s subterfuge and spycraft. What surprised me, however, was how much I enjoyed reading Vlora’s storyline here. I’ve never been a fan of Vlora, but I think in Blood of Empire McClellan successfully characterize and leads her towards a development that made me care for her. Vlora is a flawed character and seeing her learning from her mistakes to do better while she struggles with the dilemmas of living up to her father was engrossing. All of these characters have come a long way since their first entrance into the story, and I found the closure for each character’s arcs to be incredibly satisfying; I feel that Blood of Empire has given these characters an apt ending.

“It’s more than something. It’s my promise. A word is worth a lot, Vlora. Don’t forget it in your grief and anger.”

Although I did mention that I’m satisfied with the closure of each character’s story, the climax sequences are also where Blood of Empire gets trickier to rate and review. Seriously, the quality of the action sequences itself in the last 15% of the book showcases McClellan’s fast-paced actions at his best. The way he ended his chapters with cliffhanger continuously will make you want to continue reading non-stop; I loved the sense of danger I felt in the relentless battle and unpredictability with no respite. I mean, I finished reading the second half—more than three hundred pages long—in a single day. That should say enough how captivated I am by the second half of the novel.

“But your arrogant prick of a Great Ka still hasn’t learned his lesson.”
“What lesson is that?”
“That I’m Mad Ben Styke.”

Unfortunately, despite how much I enjoyed reading Blood of Empire, I have to admit that several elements in it stopped me from giving it a full 5-stars rating. The first reason being Ben Styke’s storyline that pushes him to rely on brain and subterfuge. One of the greatest things about this trilogy, for me, was Ben Styke’s contrast in his brutality and his love towards Celine and the Mad Lancers. Seeing him sitting in the sideline observing events from a bystander’s perspective and relying on other characters was not exciting. The strong and distinctive strengths of the series also felt underused in this concluding installment. We’ve heard about the power of the enchanted armor worn by the Mad Lancers for almost three books long now, the end of Wrath of Empire gave huge hints that led me to believe that we’re going to see its usage in its full glory here, but that didn’t happen; the armor blocked a few bullets but that’s it, nothing too special shown. Unlike the previous books in the saga, we also don’t get to see the Powder Mages unleashing their power here. We do get to see the Privileged and bone-eye in actions, but they’re not as memorable as it was in the first trilogy or Sins of Empire. Finally, the final confrontation with the villains—emperor of Dynize and Ka-Sedial—ended up being super short and anti-climactic, not to mention that it required a bit of Deus ex Machina element to resolve too. It is very odd for me to say that this almost 700 pages long novel felt rushed, but the climax sequences, at least, felt that way to me.

The execution of the climax sequences and the underused potential of the series did fell a bit short to me, but honestly speaking, I still had a great time reading the novel. I was captivated by my investment for the characters, and I wanted their story to end in the most fitting fashion; McClellan has achieved this, and I’m satisfied with the conclusion of the series. McClellan has been writing stories in this world for six years now. I’m sure the things he learned from writing Powder Mage and Gods of Blood and Powder will be put to good use for his future writing endeavors; the premise of the new series sounds awesome already, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Overall, Blood of Empire is an absorbing final installment that satisfyingly closed the main stories in Powder Mage universe. Thanks for the stories, McClellan, it certainly has been a blast!

Series Review:

Sins of Empire: 5/5 stars
Wrath of Empire: 4/5 stars
Blood of Empire: 4/5 stars

Gods of Blood and Powder: 13/15 stars

You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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I’m just going to come out and say it: I loved this book. I loved this series. I loved the series before it. I had so much fun reading these books and I am sad that it is now over and done with. I am very satisfied with how it ended.

Blood of Empire continues from the end of Wrath of Empire. Ka Sedial is trying to recover the God Stones to make himself a god and all of our heroes are racing against time to stop him before he becomes an all mighty god. There are so many twists and turns in the book, so much action and a lot of wonderful character moments to enjoy.

Speaking of the characters, I love them all. They are all so interesting and likeable that I could just read about them forever. I think Ben Styke is my favourite and I adore his father/ daughter relationship with Celine. He is wonderfully uncompromising most of the time and he just won’t give up. I love that. The other characters are also a joy to read and they all get their moment to shine whilst facing the ever increasing odds that they are going to fail.

Blood of Empire ended in a way that I actually really liked. I wasn’t disappointed by it in the slightest. It had a nice epilogue as the final chapter that rounded everything up and didn’t feel like it had been rushed unlike some other books I have read this year. I found it to be an exciting end to the series with a good amount of action and character moments to enjoy.

Review will go live 17/12/2019
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This is a fantastic concluding instalment to this trilogy. I loved the direction of the plot and the character development was so well done. If you've enjoyed the last two books in the trilogy, then I think you'll enjoy this one too. I cannot recommend these books enough.
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The third book in McClellan's Gods of Blood and Powder series is a richlh woven treat, featuring all the things the author has led us to expect; great characters, excellent plottong and fast paced fantasy adventure. This is such a good series. Highly recommend.
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My favourite book by this author is uncanny collateral and though this is different genre it still has all the same excellent qualities that I found in UC, great story, great characters and (guess what) great plot and development
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