When I first heard that I would be allowed back into the world of Brian McClellan’s guns and sorcery, I was immediately excited. Upon reading the first few chapters, my excitement grew as I realised I was going to be reunited with old friends. Because some of the revelations that graced the pages were unexpected to me, I’m going to warn of spoilers ahead for anyone who reads this review.
I consume media in a much different way than I used to. Simply put, I no longer read previews, reviews, blurbs, or much news of any sort, so that when I come to a movie, comic, or book, I’m left as spoiler free as possible. Looking at the back-of-the-book blurb for Sins of Empire, my suspicions are further confirmed that part of the excitement of this book is the reveal of who we would be joining along the way.
Warning, spoilers follow.
I didn’t know exactly what I was getting in for when I opened Sins of Empire, and I had an inkling it might be a story set thousands of years away from the previous books Brian McClellan had written. Not the case. In fact, only 10 years has passed since the conclusion of The Autumn Republic, and we join Lady Vlora Flint and Colonel Olem of the Riflejack Mercenary Company. We’re on a different continent than we were last time we saw Vlora and Olem, but the adventure and turmoil are much the same, as they find themselves quickly drawn into a very messy and sticky political situation.
The nation of Fatrasta – for whom the Riflejacks are now working – is a turbulent place, and the native Palo are under the thumb of the Lady Chancellor and her people. The Riflejacks are employed by the Lady Chancellor, so they are unsurprisingly caught in the middle, eventually, of two bad ideas.
Sins of Empire is a wonderful read, because not only do we join old faces, but we are on a new continent where there are a bundle of new faces to meet as well. Michel Bravis is a spy with a secret, and Mad Ben Styke is quickly let loose on the world. Everything goes to hell in a handbasket, until it is then thrown into the pan, and then into the fire. Everything that is set up in the first half of the book begins to pale into insignificance as the second half of the book gets under way, and the stakes that were there all along, but simply hidden, are raised higher and higher.
Unfortunately, the author gets a little sloppy with his writing – losing track of who is supposed to be aware of what, and who is supposed to be out of the loop, and mixing up internal monologues which should know better. There are several times throughout the book which simply don’t make sense – but only once you read further and things are revealed. This was disappointing, because the author himself or an experienced editor should have picked these up.
Nevertheless, these are minor complaints in the larger scale of the grandeur and out-and-out fun of this book. Sins of Empire would make a great jumping on spot for anyone who hasn’t read Brian McClellan’s books before. Similarly, it’s a great continuation of the books that have come before, for us old-hands. Regardless of whether you’ve read Brian McClellan before, Sins of Empire crackles with excitement and adventure on every page, with characters you’ll fall in love, or hate, in equal measure.
Review by Joshua S Hill
Bee wrangler, homemade jam enthusiast and author of the widely successful flintlock fantasy series, The Powder Mage Trilogy; Brian McClellan has kindly taken the time to speak with Fantasy Book Review for the sites How Storie [...]
Isaac from United States
He is a great writer and really develops his world. you fall in love with the characters and he keeps you wanting more. I blew through everything he wrote within a summer. Can't wait for the next one.
Vignesh from India
Quality of McClellan's works are increasing book by book. With this new series the author has expanded his world of powder mages and sorcerers. If you liked his powder mage series then you would love this new series.
8.7/10 from 3 reviews