Brian McClellan’s latest book “Wrath of Empire” in my opinion is his best book to date. I’ve not read everything by this author but all I have read I’ve very much enjoyed. This latest, I enjoyed the most. I have no idea if because he has a new editor he thanks in the Acknowledgements section, Brit Hvide, I have to think is a portion of the creativity and passion. Even if I must mention I’ve no clear picture of what an editor does when it comes to a book. Since there seem to be three different types of editors, whichever one Brit Hvide is? Excellent job!
Now back to the story. I will admit this is the first time that I was not annoyed at the amount of airtime that one of the characters received. In the previous series, there was one character I couldn't care less about, and I read their portions of the story to get back to Tamas and Taniel. In this series? I wasn’t as sure about the character Michael, but I am fully hooked now. Could there be more Taniel and Ka-Poel? Of course, there could be, hello.
Ben Styke and the people that are following along with him, especially Jackal, the man that can hear the dead spirits talking to him? I will admit these two are the more interesting out of all the people in this book. Why? Totally unexpected. Styke is an older character he is able to get out of bed in the morning is a surprise to me. That he has a close relationship with Celine is a surprise to me. Celine is a young girl, I suppose we can think of her as being Styke’s ward, adopted daughter, or at the very least his reasonability. Pretty obvious he loves her, she loves him and they are a family, no matter how much they disagree about the terms, the feelings of Father and Daughter are readily apparent.
Not sure about anyone else? I am waiting for Celine to jump on her new horse, Margo, and go lead a charge or do something else all Ben Styke like. Right?
Taniel? I feel he started off being an Aragorn like the character from “Lord of the Rings.” He was in his element in the woods, was a crack shot, and he was built for bigger and better things. He disappeared for a while in the previous book and now he is back. Tiresome the guy seriously can’t be hurt, it looks like he can kill a 1000 men by sniffing some gunpowder, and barely take a scratch. He is a hero, granted, is he a little too big? I am not sure, doing all that he has been doing? Leads me to believe some huge rock is going to fall on top of him that is going to impede him from doing things, like breathe.
If after reading this book you didn’t know before the last 10 pages Ka-Poel was related to Ka-Sedial and Ichtracia? You really weren’t paying attention. The groundwork was there with Ichtracia talking about her past. The clues were there, or it with the number of books I do read, the subtle things people say “Oh I didn’t see that coming.” Did I? Who knows or better yet? Who cares. It is an interesting plot twist, and it also explains while Ka-Poel is so powerful as a Bone-Eye.
I am glad the revelation that Ben Styke and Lindet are brother and sister. For Lindet it might become a serious pain in the butt, it is good though that people in the story understand why Styke might do some of the things he does. Yes, I realize I am rationalizing this as if the people in the story are real.
Vlora. I admit it I did not like this character when she first started, I do like her now. I like her better than she stopped whining about not being fair to Taniel. I also like she is the leader of the mercenary army. I seriously hope there is someone out there paying attention to how well the author writes strong women that don’t need a man around to get things done. The women in this story are amazing.
Lindet runs a country, Vlora runs an army, Ka-Poel the most powerful magic user, whatever you are going to want to call the type of magic she uses, isn’t waiting for a man. Even when a man is supposed to protect Ka-Poel, Ben Styke, she ignores him and goes and gets stuff done. Ichtracia is no slouch and even Celine isn’t waiting for someone to do something for her.
Even the minor characters, those that get tossed aside by being killed are strong women. Powder Mage scouts, non-magical ones, regular soldiers are both men and women and there is nary a word about sexism. They are people, they have a job and they do it. I applaud this good writing.
I seriously do not want to give away too much from this book. I say read it, perhaps a few times. I am planning on doing so to see what I missed from the first reading.
I have picked up on Amazon the book that has a bunch of short stories in it that I am hoping has the Taniel and Ka-Poel origins story as well as the Ben Styke, Mad Lancer origins story. I am not going to be surprised if I find a Tamas story as well. I have the impression this is a well-loved character of the authors. I’ve said it before, I would be fine with an all Taniel/Ka-Poel story before they got god touched or whatever someone wants to call it.
I am going to point out that I requested my local library to purchase this book, and they did. I had been all excited to read this book and was sad when I found out that it had not been put into print yet. The librarian suggested that to me: “If you request it I’m sure we will buy it and we will let you know when it is in.” How cool is that? The answer is very cool.
Now, go get a book, maybe even this one, and go READ.