Title: Wrath of Empire
Author: Brian McClellan
Publisher: May 2018, Orbit Books
Blurb: The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.
Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.
Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for
**ARC graciously given by Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review**
I’m not really sure how to properly write this review, because…I think this book broke me?
Look, I fucking love Wrath of Empire. Like, it might be my favorite McClellan books to date (and, after binging five straight books by him, that’s saying something). It had everything that I’ve come to expect from this world and this series, the foundations, if you will.
It had characters I wanted to root for, yet kept me on my toes, because they are complex and they like to test my loyalties. It had worldbuilding that is so in-depth and intricate, you go through your every day real life and think about an event that happened in the book and mistake it as a memory of something that happened in real life; it’s just that bloody vivid. It has a plot that twists like no one’s business, with Brandon Sanderson level planning, I have to believe (because there was no way that McClellan didn’t plan for this book since before writing A Promise of Blood. Just no bloody way).
It also has characters who I get so attached to, I literally stay up until 2am after getting off of work at midnight to finish the book, and cry for the first time in recent memory.
Let me paint you the scene.
It’s 12:30am. I just finished my work week and a packed weekend is in sight, if only I go to sleep to welcome it. I have Wrath of Empire with me, as I have for the past…eh, little over a month. You see, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump, in the sense that I had a bunch of other commitments with deadlines looming that I had to prioritize, so even though I started this book and was already loving it weeks ago, I was only able to read snippets of it here and there, instead of devouring it like I’d much rather do. But, I only had 160 pages left. Easily something to finish in one sitting, curled up on my couch, no other commitments in sight. I don’t have to get up early in the morning, it’s fine.
1:30am. One of my cats is lying on my lap while the other is attempting to lick the remains of milk out of my cereal bowl. My boyfriend snores from the bedroom (but we live in a studio apartment, so he doesn’t really snore that loudly), but me? I don’t notice any of this. No, I’m too busy crying–literal tears–after reading the words, “Don’t try and rob me of that promise.” Hell, even writing about it now, I’m getting chills, because of course he would say that. Of course she would do that.
2:00am. I close the book, after saying, out loud, right before the epilogue, “You can’t fucking be serious, this can end now” (direct quote, please image whispered angrily as to not wake up sleeping boyfriend ((yet totally imagine waking up sleeping cat, who is quite put out by harshly whispered outburst)). I set the book down, finished, and experience a whirlwind of emotions. I’m desperate to find out what happens next. I’m sad because I’ve sent the last three months reading nothing but McClellan and now I have to wait until next June before I get to find out how this story ends (and my other favorite couple has just been reintroduced!!).
I’m emotionally wrecked by such a powerful and captivating story, built up by four books and completely dominated by this fifth installment.
By 2:15am, I’m scouring McClellan’s website, looking at all the novellas written in the Powder Mage universe, simultaneously changing the status to “Want to Read” on Goodreads on all of them while also wondering if my bank account could truly take that much of a hit if I just bought them all, because I just want more.
I’m still a little hungover, friends, honestly.
Please, don’t make the mistake I did and not read McClellan, instead staring at his books on the shelves and wondering if they are any good, because they certainly look good. Trust me on this. These books are fantastic, being top notch fantasy that I personally can’t get enough off. I can’t thank Orbit enough for offering to send me that ARC of Wrath of Empire way back in May and finally kick starting this binge. Sorry it took me so long to read it.
But next summer, you can bet I won’t be making that mistake again.