The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place – a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of a suppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with wile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall’s present.
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
Sins of Empire is an absolute bombshell of a novel. Chock full of some of the most compelling characters I’ve ever read, intense world building, and an explosive magic system, Sins of Empire will keep you reading well into the night.
Easily the best aspect of this novel is the character work. Throughout the novel, three characters are at the heart of the story with rotating chapter perspectives. Lady Flint, Ben Styke, and Michel Bravis. Each perspective gives the reader different information about the world and its history, the political landscape, and magic system. Lady Flint co-owns a mercenary company that is called into the city to deal with unrest, but soon finds herself in the middle of a much bigger political movement. Through Lady Flint, readers learn about past battles, wars, and the current political landscape from an outsiders’ perspective. Michel Bravis, on the other hand, is as inside as it gets as he belongs to the secret police. Readers learn about the current political climate and key players from an insiders’ perspective. Finally, Ben Styke is a disgraced war hero who, as with Lady Flint, gets thrust into the middle of a political movement. Each of these characters work in tandem as the plot unfolds slowly to build up an explosive climax with plenty of twists and turns to keep readers on the edge of their seats. I cannot tell you the amount of times I was wowed by a twist I did not see coming.
Sins of Empire takes place within McClellan’s Powder Mage universe. I did not read the previous novels, but not for a single second did I feel like I was missing out on key information or context. McClellan’s builds up the world, magic systems, and characters in a deliberate and precise fashion that new readers do not feel left out or lost. The Powder Mage universe is vast with a lot of moving parts and characters, but McClellan’s handles it with ease as he sets up reveal after reveal with the skill and finesse of a well seasoned author.
The magic system is explosive, to say the least. It’s imaginative and fun, though it’s not relied upon by all the characters. Swords, guns, and war make up a fair chunk of the novel that is sure to leave those who crave gore plenty satisfied by the end.
Overall, Sins of Empire is one fantasy novel not to be missed. Weighing in at 624 pages, Sins of Empire seems like a big commitment, but it’s not enough time with these compelling characters, fast paced plot, and explosive world that will leave readers gasping for more.