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Book Review: Blood of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #3) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Blood of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #3) by Brian McClellan

ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #3 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #6 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy

Pages: 688 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 5th December 2019 by Orbit (UK) & 3rd December 2019 by Orbit (US)


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.

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