top of page

Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: Sins of Empire

Author: Brian McClellan

Publisher: Orbit

Format: Print, ebook, audiobook

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2017

Star Rating: 5/5

We often think of epic fantasy as having a medieval setting and featuring pitched battles between large armies.

However, a growing number of fantasy novels merit the label while being set in an urban environment.

Humanity has dwelt in cities for millennia, so the consideration of our urban selves and the tensions that living in high-density settlements creates is a valid one.

Sins of Empire is the first book in the ‘Gods of Blood and Powder’ trilogy.

When Sins of Empire begins, a huge godstone has been discovered and it is in the process of being dug out of the ground.

Labourers working at the site become insane, and the magician tasked with overseeing the dig is fearful of what lies ahead.

Meanwhile, in the city of Landfall, capital of Fatrasta, tensions are rising with the campaign by rebel Mama Palo to overthrow Lady Chancellor Lindet and take control.

Mercenary Vlora Flint is tasked with keeping order in the slums of Greenfire Depths and finding Mama Palo.

The old woman faces the noose when she is apprehended. Vlora is a powder mage as well as a soldier, so she has the power she needs to complete this challenging assignment.

Agent Michel Bravis works for the Blackhats training spies before being tasked with conducting a surveillance operation of his own. He hopes to win promotion to Gold Hat in return.

But while apparently loyal to the city’s government, Michel harbours a dark secret. His own agenda is paramount and his true loyalties lie somewhere else entirely.

Mad Ben Styke is sprung from prison camp after a decade’s imprisonment in return for agreeing to infiltrate Vlora Flint’s company of mercenaries.

Sins of Empire was an epic story of multiple points of view, and of many personal agendas that often clashed. Loyalties were built on shifting sands, and I had to keep my wits about me to stay abreast of who was working with whom on a first read.

The city of Landfall was vibrant and gritty. The slums were horrible, but most other locations appeared little better. The lives of the mercenaries and the agents who work alongside them were fraught with danger.

I found Ben and Vlora to be the most relatable characters, though Michel’s true loyalty made him a more elevated character than his initial selfish focus on promotion suggested.

I really enjoyed Sins of Empire. The setting was entirely credible, and the story was full of down-in-the-dirt detail portraying a city of poverty and strife. The twists and turns of loyalty and factionalism kept me hooked right to the end.

Thank you for reading my review.

Click on this link to buy this book from Amazon via affiliate marketing, for which I receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting John C Adams Reviews blog in this way.

John C Adams Reviews Sins of Empire

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might like to subscribe to my blog.

Or you might like to take a look at my Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction category of my blog.

Please consider donating a small amount to John C Adams Reviews if you have enjoyed the reviews and articles you have seen today,

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page