Name: Wrath of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #2)
Author: Brian McClellan
Number of Pages: 639 (Paperback)
Published: May 15th 2018 by Orbit
The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.
Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.
Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for. – from Goodreads
Wrath of Empire is the second book of the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy, and picks up the story that began in Sins of Empire.
The search for the powerful and potentially dangerous godstones continues, as does the war with the Dynize. The Dynize are intent on finding these magical stones with the intention of creating a new god, and our heroes are determined not to let this happen.
Vlora, Taniel and Olem team up to wage battles both magical and military as they face threat from both the Dynize and Lady Chancellor Lindet, who has an arrest warrant out on Vlora.
Ben Styke has his orders, and leads his Mad Lancers and Ka-Poel on a mission, but revelations of past treachery send him off with his own personal vendetta in mind too.
Former spy Michel Bravis is tasked with finding and retrieving an informer known as Mara.
That’s so much going on, and at over 600 pages this is a long book, yet it never feels slow, or that any detail is filler. I really enjoyed the variety on offer, from the military tactics and battles between Vlora’s Riflejacks and their various enemies to the political scheming and undercover spying operations and the magic and mystery of the bone-eyes and the godstones. The story is perfectly paced.
McClellan creates some great characters. I still really like Vlora, and am glad she plays such a central role in this series. She’s strong, determined, and trying her best to live up to the legacy of Field Marshall Tamas, her mentor in the original Powder Mage series. With Olem and her mercenaries at her side I love reading of her dangerous expeditions.
Ben Styke is another fascinating character. Big, battle-scarred, betrayed and brutal, he also has a more thoughtful side, and when dealing with his past Styke is forced to confront the type of man he has been, and who he wants to be going forward, and his story is really engaging.
Ka-Poel comes more to the fore in Wrath of Empire, and watching her engage with Celine and Styke, and trying to figure out her heritage and the strength of her powers, which she is untrained in, is great. She’s come a long way from her first appearance in the original Powder Mage trilogy, and I can’t wait to see where her story goes. Alongside Vlora I think she’s possibly one of my favourite characters this time around.
With so much action, intrigue, magic, deception and twisting revelations, plus the arrival of characters old and new, Wrath of Empire is a great addition to the Powder Mage world. It powers on to a variety of exciting endpoints for our main characters, and it becomes clear that the task of protecting or destroying the godstones is going to prove far more involved and tricky than our heroes could ever have envisaged. There is still so much to discover, and I absolutely cannot wait for the release of Blood of Empire to see how this epic saga is going to play out, especially with some new arrivals towards the closing stages of this book.