Quarantine Epic Fantasy Review: The Gods of Blood and Power

I first read Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy as it was published in 2013-2015. I don’t read a ton of military fantasy, but what I’ve read, I’ve really enjoyed (which leads me to wonder why I don’t read more of it . . .) Standouts have been the Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon and the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. I added McClellan’s series to that list. I thoroughly enjoyed the way he jammed battle tactics and magic together. The whole series was thrilling, and I had a great time with it from beginning to end.

But life gets in the way. I saw he had another series come out in 2017. A sequel trilogy to the original trilogy. And I wanted to read it, but let’s be real: there are a lot of books out there, and I kept letting Gods of Blood and Powder slip further down in the To Be Read pile.

Until social distancing began, that is. Because if there’s one thing I wanted when this all began, it was a solid set of fantasy books to read. Something I could just dive into and not have to worry about what I was going to read next. Some real escape. I didn’t want to start anything that hasn’t been finished, because yuck, and there was this series by an author I’d really enjoyed before.


I read the trilogy in about two weeks, and I had a great time with it. It carries on some of the story lines from the first series without needing to already have read the first series for the second to make sense. It’s set in a world with four competing magic systems. There are the Privileged, who can use special gloves to do just about anything they want with magic. There are gods, which are . . . gods. There’s blood magic, which is mysterious and not quite understood by the main characters. And then there are Powder Mages: people who can basically use gunpowder like a drug to give them super strength and senses, as well as the ability to ignite powder from a distance. But of course, the majority of the world (similar in technology to the 1800s) doesn’t use magic at all, and McClellan does a good job choosing his narrators to give you a sense of the whole range of experiences.

The trilogy tells the tale of the city of Landfall, where a number of political and military efforts smash together and spread to engulf a continent in war. McClellan weaves action, intrigue, espionage, and military strategy into a compelling narrative that I had a great time reading. The content level does skew toward the adult side of things, though nowhere near Game of Thrones territory.

If you’re looking for a way to escape through reading for a while, I definitely recommend it. I gave the series as a whole an 8/10. Check it out.


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