I wanted to love this book so badly and it truly saddened me to love it only mildly 😦
Flintlock Fantasy is a subgenre I thoroughly enjoy! Mistborn Era 2, Powder Mage, the Lightbringer to a lesser extent (more “Fantasy” than “Flintlock”) were a lot of fun to read and I guess I expected the Shadow Campaigns to reach a better balance between magic and gunpowder. I know it’s unfair of me to compare this book to those series but the way we appreciate and judge books is often about expectations, isn’t it?
The Guns of Empire takes place a few months after the concluding events of The Price of Valour and follows yet another campaign, bringing Vordan’s heroines and heroes and their Grand Army closer to the most serious and disturbing adversary to date: The ruthless Sworn Church of Elysium and its infamous Priests of the Black.
“I am a blade that opens throats in the dark. For a long time I was wielded for an unworthy purpose. Now I believe my wielder is worthy, but that is all that has changed.”
Wexler’s writing and mastery of his subject made it fascinating to read about drills and military strategies and the mundane practices of an army camp. Each battle was also amazing to read. Wexler paid a particular attention to the details in a battlefield and to the true and ugly reality of war and its collateral damages. I should have liked this! I objectively should have. I just lost interest after a few battles and the inevitable, endless marching of the army. This was strictly a personal preference and some of my reading pals absolutely loved this installment.
Now let us talk about magic, shall we? I know I said this series as a whole has been more focused on military and gunpowder and bayonets than magic. And it’s true. However, you’ll definitely see more of the demons, or naaths that grant their hosts a great and specific power or a skill. You’ll also learn so much more about history, theology and lore, the Beast of Judgement (the enemy of humanity), about the nature of the demons and their manifestation in the world and about Elysium’s creation and purpose. The last part of the book opened the door wide to a lot of exciting possibilities!
Review by Haïfa.
Read in December, 2017.