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.
It’s up to a few…
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…
I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought. One of my highlights this year and a series I will stick to.
It starts with a Bang. No long introduction of characters, world and magic, nope. We get a coup against the King of Adro that succeeds and ends monarchy. Field Marshal Tamas, the main character of this novel, together with a few more or less dodgy conspirators, executes the King, his family and loyal sorcerers and plans to establish a democracy.
They put in motion more than they can deal with, as there is now talk of the neighbouring nation of Kez getting ready to invade, some remaining royalists are making a stand and the last of the King’s sorcerers’ freak everyone out by mentioning ‘Krezimir’s Promise’ before they are killed. What a nice clusterfuck.
And this is just the start of the novel! As I read the 4 short stories, that take place before ‘Promise of Blood’, I was already familiar with lots of the characters, like Tamas, Adamat and Taniel. I also knew about how powder magic and the sorcery of the Royal Cabal works. I knew about the politics and the relationship with Kez and can only recommend those short stories to everyone. I might have been a bit lost at the start otherwise.
Adamat, now retired, is pulled into the whole affair by Tamas, as his ‘Knack’ makes him a valuable investigator. Adamat has a photographic memory and never forgets anything. He now has to find out, what ‘Krezimir’s Promise’ is and quickly finds himself in mortal danger as he uncovers more and more mysteries.
Tamas himself, struggling to keep everything under control, deals with different powerful conspirators and/or enemies, from the church, the union, or other powerful places. They all have different ideas and of course there’s one traitor somewhere who’s making it even harder. Tamas is much more bitter & almost emotionless. Very different to the stubborn and ambitious young man I got to know in the short stories. He is still ambitious, but much more resigned and very angry^^ He has a reason though.. Also, Tamas hires this really cool soldier called Olem as his bodyguard. Olem is a Knacked who doesn’t need sleep. They develop this cool bromance and I am a fan!
The third pov-character is Taniel, Tamas’ son and powder mage as well. He is probably my favourite character and part of the most interesting storyline, as he gets sent to a mountain fortress on an errand he struggles to accept, but no spoilers^^ There’s lots of action and mage hunting and magic getting thrown around here and I loved every second of it. I can’t help but be invested in what happens to Taniel and also, the presence of Ka-poel, his partner in crime & silent badass, helps a lot. I love the dynamics between those two, the fact that Taniel doesn’t quite understand her and sees her as a child, but still cares about her a lot. And she is so loyal to him and has lots of secrets. I also see a slow-burn romance coming up, please!
The revelation of ‘Krezimir’s Promise’ poses a much bigger threat than Kez and their sorcerers and sets up nicely for the second book.
This is a great ‘flintlock fantasy’ with traditional heroes, grey characters & straight up villains you love to hate. Powerful mages, sorcery, guns and voodoo magic all have their place here.
I am hype for the second book, but please can I have the Mad Lancer dude from the short story back?!