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“Promise of Blood” by Brian McClellan

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Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage series falls into a subgenre of fantasy that I haven’t read much of: flintlock fantasy. In the first book, Promise of Blood, the nation of Adria’s powder mages—magic-users who can manipulate gunpowder—initiate a revolution against a corrupt king. The king claims to rule by divine right, a proposition that the main character, Tamas, dismisses as propaganda. But evidence gradually begins to mount that it may be more than that.

McClellan does a good job of gradually increasing the complexity of the world. Both the political situation and the magic system are more complicated than they appear at first glance, and new facets are introduced organically without too much info-dumping. The characters are also interesting, particularly Sabon and Mihali. And finally, the plot sets up a nice cliffhanger for the next volume in the series.