Sins of Empire
by Brian McClellan
Orbit, 2017. 624 pages. Fantasy.
Vlora Flint, a veteran of the Adran revolution and storied powder mage, leads her mercenaries on a hunt for revolutionaries in the swamps of the Fatrastan wilderness. When the despotic ruler of Fatrasta suddenly recalls her Riflejacks to the capital to hunt for a community organizer with ties to rebels, Flint discovers a warren of conspiracies and competing interests. Between murderous rebels, scheming secret police, and the specter of an empire not seen for hundreds of years, it would take a miracle for her people to make it out alive.
Told from the perspectives of Flint, a member of the secret police (Michel Bravis), and a convicted war hero (Ben Stykes), Sins of Empires brings together the best elements of McClellan's talents. Sins brings back the epic rifle and magic battles from the Powder Mage trilogy, along with one of the most creative and interesting magic systems, the competing powder mages (mages who draw strength and speed from imbibing small amounts of gunpowder and can control detonations to manipulate bullets or whole supplies of gunpowder), privileged (who can summon elemental forces like fire and ice), and the mysterious magic of the bone-eyes. While the action and intrigue are as splendid as ever, McClellan's characters in Sins demonstrate new skill and depth. Sins of Empire is already on my list for best books of 2017. At 600 pages, most books will have lulls, but Sins maintains a pace that will keep readers engaged to the very last page.