Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Promise of Blood

Promise of Blood by Brian  McClellan
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's review
Dec 12, 2012

it was amazing

This book took me a while to read - so you might take that to mean it's easily put down. Actually it wasn't really, the main trouble for me was that when I did put it down the bugger vanished. EVERY. TIME. I've never had a book that's such an escape artist. I half-thought the cover might have an adaptive camouflage mode...


When I did get to hold onto it for any period I found the book highly readable.

The characters and description are good. McClellan's real forte though is in building tension and intrigue, slowly raising the tempo while wrapping the various threads around each other in satisfying ways. The man's a story-teller.

I've read some excellent books of late, including Blood Song, Fool's Assassin, and The Name of the Wind. Promise of Blood held it's head up among that lot and wasn't overshadowed.

My only quibbles.

i) (trivial) One of the countries mentioned several times was called Fatrasta. And for some reason every time someone mentioned Fatrasta my mind filled with images of over-weight Rastafarians ... couldn't say why.

ii) The magic. I understand many readers love highly structured 'magic systems'. Brandon Sanderson (who I've not yet read) is famed for them. I wouldn't say Promise of Blood had a highly structured magic system, excepting that the different disciplines were clearly distinct - certainly we're not talking Dungeons & Dragons rulebook magic here. And I'm very glad of it. HOWEVER, for me the magic felt ... how can I put it ... fake? arbitrary? ... The thing to do is swallow it whole (which I managed) and enjoy the book (which I really did). But every once in a while the whole Privileged thing with special gloves and each finger linked to a different element just made me wince and want to say 'really?' ... and the powder mages with all their weird bullet magic linked to snorting gunpowder ... again ... why? what? And if gunpowder gives you magic powers to deflect bullets in flight etc... can't those telekinetic abilities be applied to objects that ... are NOT bullets?

Before I'm dragged to the guillotine ... note the FIVE STARS and the fact that these are QUIBBLES. I _really_ liked this book. Brian McClellan is a fine writer. I recommend you read his debut.

Finally - it was cool that Brian got his own love of cooking into the book in a big way. It was a refreshing and original idea.

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Reading Progress

December 12, 2012 – Shelved
October 5, 2014 – Started Reading
October 12, 2014 –
0.0% "I've yet to read the first word - I put the book down and it appears to have ... evaporated. I read Boneland while waiting for it to resurface."
October 14, 2014 –
0.0% "I found it and brought it to the hospice with me! 32 pages in, very good start."
November 16, 2014 –
0.0% "pg 311 - good stuff so far"
November 24, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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Bruyere Great review. I haven't finished it (80% done) but I like it well enough. Definitely found I needed a lot of suspension of belief for the magic but it's definitely different and different is usually good. And it feels very much like a man's book- like I should play poker, chew tobacco, eat jerky, and drink whiskey while reading it.

Luke I hate to bring up Django Wexler since they get thrown in together so much, but you should read his as well... Eventually. (I know, you have so much free time between being an author, working for a living, and taking care of your daughter, you just HAVE to read every book that fans suggest!)

I read them back to back and found them to be very good companion books even though they were never meant to be that way.

message 3: by EW (new) - rated it 4 stars

EW Couple of my friends read this book and they have recommended, but i couldn't decide will i read it or not. Thank you for this wonderful review. I definitely need to read it ASAP!

Chris Boulton Guillotine... Guillotine... Guillotine... Although if Brian could hold off until you've finished RQW then I'll be grateful ;)

message 5: by Justin James (new)

Justin James I've read the first two in the series... while I'm going to finish reading the series, I don't feel much compulsion to do so. There's some neat, interesting stuff... but it's all at the level of "world mechanics" and not the "story/plot/characters/things that matter" level. All of the characters that I really enjoy are side characters, while the main characters just don't do it for me.

I agree about the magic system, it had me asking so many questions that it actively detracted from my immersion in the book, like sci-fi where they try to use the laws of physics but then make obvious mistakes... or noir that doesn't understand how guns operate (think: silencers on revolvers).


Caleb over-weight Rastafarians.....hahahah, so awesome.

Bruyere The only character I liked is the chef. He's the best!

Brandon Zarzyczny I agree, this is a great book series that I really enjoyed despite it not being perfect. With the magic, the telekinesis I guess could probably work with other items, but the user would have to be actively burning off black powder to fuel it.

RuthAnn Totally agree about the magic system. That was a bit rough for me.

Chris I'm a big fan of Promise of Blood, but very much prefer an inexplicable magic system. Defining magic effectively encapsulates the roles it can play; the vaguer the system, if written effectively, the more mysterious and effective magic can be. Note that this is not an excuse for use of magic as a deus-ex-machina, per se, merely a note that in returning the unknowable to the known, the mystique is rather...removed.

message 11: by Susie (new)

Susie Fatrasta... lmao!! I wouldn't have seen it if you hadn't have said it!!

Looks like it's one I'll look forward to.

Janne Loved the whole trilogy, and all the short stories and novellas too. Sure, there´s some stuff that makes you raise your eyebrows once in a while and go "Really!", but all-in-all, great story, great characters. 5/5 all the way!

message 13: by Tim (new)

Tim This book has taken me A LONG time to read as well. I'm still not through it. I'm just hitting spots that I'm losing interest at. I'll definitely give it another shot for sure just not soon.

message 14: by Adam (new) - added it

Adam Sanderson I begin by saying you must read one of Sanderson's books next. Second, your review, once again, has made me add another book to my ever growing list!

message 15: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark I loved this book so much.

Jacob Kinda surprised at how many ppl have had issues with this series, I absolutely loved it.

message 17: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon White COMPLETELY agree with the whole overweight Rasta thing as well.

Jules Wait till you read the second. It is waaay better.

Hendrik FatRasta :D :D

message 20: by Anna (new)

Anna Haha, great review, which has made me decide to read this book! Thanks

message 21: by Paul (new) - added it

Paul Dammit, man. I'm only on 6% and Fatrasta has only been mentioned four or five times so far, which means I have another 94% of the book to get through while trying NOT to think of overweight Rastafarians!

message 22: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Paul wrote: "Dammit, man. I'm only on 6% and Fatrasta has only been mentioned four or five times so far, which means I have another 94% of the book to get through while trying NOT to think of overweight Rastafa..."

You're welcome.

Scott McPherson The Powder Mage trilogy is genuinely one of the best fantasy works I've read in a while, and the sequel trilogy to it is shaping up nicely!

message 24: by Tim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tim Riley your review sold me, i'm 12 chapters in now and really enjoying it .

message 25: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Lawrence Tim wrote: "your review sold me, i'm 12 chapters in now and really enjoying it ."

The power of reviews / recomendations!

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