January’s book for If It Ain’t Epic, It Ain’t Worth Doing is Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan, book one of Gods of Blood and Powder.
Sins of Empire is a fine choice for starting this blog series because there’s no such thing as a fresh start. There’s always a legacy of impressions and questions hanging over anything one does and that’s doubly true for a sequel series to a well-received and successful debut trilogy.
My focus for Sins of Empire came to mind immediately: Tightening up the fringes for the second go ‘round. I enjoyed the Powder Mage trilogy a lot, but there were two pain points that needed clean-up.
1) Mythology and Magic: While the titular powder mages were well defined, the rest of the setting’s magic and mythology were either hazily described (sorcery), or full on opaque (the gods). Both weren’t showstoppers, but by the end of three books the looseness on both topics was starting to pile up.
2) Supplemental information: McClellan cranked out a bunch of side stories and novellas around his first trilogy, to the point where some character details and history relevant to the novels were relegated to separate works. There were moments that felt less like figuring out something from context and more like ‘click here to purchase the Tamas’s Military Career DLC’.
Existing Impressions: Again, I liked the Powder Mage trilogy very much. Promise of Blood checked my fantasy boxes in a big way and is one of my favorite recent epic fantasy releases. The rest of the trilogy didn’t quite live up to the first book due to the reasons state above, but I still hold them in high regard. As for Sins of Empire, it’s been high on my to-read list through 2017, but one damn thing or another came up and I ended up waiting for the trade paperback to match the others on the shelf.
Let’s get crackin’.