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Petrik’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2019)

Petrik’s Top 20 Books of the Year (2019)

The featured image above was specifically designed by Felix Ortiz for Novel Notions’ Top 20 Lists. Check out his portfolio, he’s brilliant.


Click here if you want to see the list of all the books I’ve read this year: Petrik’s Year in Books (2019)

Here we are, we’re reaching the end of 2019 very soon! This year, I’ve read and reviewed 115 books (96 traditionally published books + 19 indie books.)

It’s lower than the previous two years, but I must say that it’s been another incredible reading year for me. Putting the high amount of 4.5 and 5 stars books I’ve rated this year into consideration, I will be applying four rules into this list; doing this will help me give appreciation to more authors, and I’ll be able to include both new and older books (many of them still need attention) rather than having only a few authors/books hoarding the list every year.

  • Rereads don’t count.
  • One book per author.
  • Unless specified, the books listed here are published this year.
  • Number one spot aside, none of these are in particular order. All have merit, and most have different strengths that make them stand out from each other; it’s too difficult for me to rank them accordingly.

All the books listed below received a rating of 4.5 or 5 out of 5 stars from me. Without further ado, here are the top 20 books I’ve read in 2019! (Full reviews of these books can be found on Novel Notions and my Goodreads page.)


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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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Book Review: Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #2) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #2) by Brian McClellan

Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #2 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #5 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy

Pages: 639 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 15th May 2018 by Orbit


Incredible character development given to Ben Styke and Michel; a bit conflicted regarding Vlora’s. Wrath of Empire sets up the stage nicely for the hopefully satisfying conclusion of the series.

I’ve mentioned in my review of Sins of Empire that the hype and the positive reviews for both Sins of Empire and Wrath of Empire were the main reason why I ended up giving this trilogy a go. Seeing that I absolutely loved Sins of Empire, I was excited to hear from everyone that Wrath of Empire, Brian McClellan’s highest-rated book so far, exceeded Sins of Empire in terms of overall quality. Admittedly, despite how much I enjoyed this book, I can’t agree with that notion.

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Book Review: Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #1) by Brian McClellan

Book Review: Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder, #1) by Brian McClellan

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Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Gods of Blood and Powder (Book #1 of 3), Powder Mage (Book #4 of 6)

Genre: Fantasy, High fantasy, Flintlock fantasy

Pages: 604 pages (UK paperback edition)

Published: 9th March 2017 by Orbit (UK) & 7th March 2017 by Orbit (US)


That was amazing. So glad I ended up giving this a go. What an explosive return to McClellan’s beloved Powder Mage universe.

It’s been two years since I finished reading the Powder Mage trilogy. Honestly, I felt satisfied with the ending I got in The Autumn Republic that I thought I would’ve been fine with not reading the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy. Thankfully, so many reviews and word-of-mouth have spread throughout the years, and they convinced me that this trilogy is even better than the first one. And it’s highly probable that they will be proven right. Just from the experience of reading this book, I know I would’ve made a grave mistake if I didn’t continue. I’ll go as far as saying that Sins of Empire alone is better than the first trilogy already.

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Book review: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)

Book review: The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)

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The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

My rating : 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Powder Mage

Genre: Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Military fiction

Published: February 10th 2015 by Orbit

 

The Autumn Republic is the third and last book of the Powder Mage Trilogy and again, it’s a brilliant (and equally frustrating) mix of military tactics, fantasy, politics and investigative narrative.

The action began a few days after the closing events of the Crimson Campaign. Some of the main characters found themselves in dire situations, others were beginning new adventures. So to say the least, the book started off with a bang.

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Book review: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage, #2)

Book review: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage, #2)


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The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

My rating : 4.25 of 5 stars

Series: The Powder Mage

Genre: Fantasy, Flintlock Fantasy, Military fiction

Published: May 6th 2014 by Orbit

 

The Crimson Campaign is the second book of the Powder Mage trilogy and it picks up a few days after the last events of Promise of Blood. The story is still told from 3 main male POVs and a smaller female POV (that is gaining in importance).

The Crimson Campaign was really, really good. Brian McClellan showed in it some of the great potential Promise of Blood hinted at!

So why not a 5 stars rating, one would ask ?

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Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collection, #1)

Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collection, #1)

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Uncanny Collateral is an entertaining, fast-paced urban fantasy novella that packed a surprising amount of character development for its size.

McClellan was best known for his Powder Mage trilogy which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. His ongoing Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy which is based off the same world is reputedly even better than his debut efforts but I’ve yet to read them; something which I intend to rectify sometime in the future. If this novella was anything to go by, his writing now has an even more natural and practised ease that flows and ebbs with the story. In Powder Mage, the writing was slightly clunkier in the first book, but improvements were noticeable as we progressed to the third one.

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Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1)

Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1)

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Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Promise of Blood was a compelling and pretty good debut. But despite bringing together amazing Fantasy elements and magic systems, Promise of Blood didn’t blow my mind and there were some details that bothered me a bit (and that I will list below). 
War Cry

War Cry

Review copy provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review.

War Cry by Brian McClellan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

War Cry was good but in my opinion it would’ve worked so much better as a full novel.

Teado, a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset used for military purposes. He and his platoon have been stranded on the Bavares high plains for years. Desperate, he and his platoon jumped at the chance for a super risky resupply mission. This was a very quick read, not only the length of the novella is short, the story itself was very fast-paced and action-oriented; it took me approximately one hour to finish the book in one sitting.

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