Because all of life is stories.
If you’ve never heard of Brian McClellan or his Powder Mage series then oh boy have you been missing out. The first novel in the series, Promise of Blood, is one of the best fantasy debuts I have ever had the pleasure to read. It’s a thriller, a mystery, full of political intrigue, and some of the coolest magic around. The entire secondary world is great. Sadly, this is not a review of Promise of Blood. More’s the pity.
One of the other things McClellan does is write on a fairly reliable basis a large amount of short fiction and novellas that fill out the backstory of the world of the powder mages. His latest work, “Murder at the Kinnen Hotel”, is an excellent jumping in point for anyone that wants to sample his style before taking on the trilogy, and a fun and fast read for anyone waiting for the release of the final novel of the trilogy, The Autumn Republic, due out early next year.
The novella, weighing in at 79 or so pages on eBook, takes place 22 years before the events of Promise of Blood, and follows Adamat, detective for the 1st Precinct Adran Police. Adamat is a hyper competent character who doesn’t fall victim to the trappings and pitfalls of life as an Adran police officer. Expected to fall in line and obey the command of the nobles and the Adran Royal Cabal Adamat finds himself pulled off of a case that will see his friend wrongly sent to the guillotine in a few short weeks.
Over the fast paced duration of the novella Adamat must contend with corrupt cops, powerful noble families, frightening agents of the Iron King’s Royal Cabal, and rogue powder mage; a sharpshooter that has the ability to hit targets miles away and set gunpowder off with nothing but a thought, in order to save the life of an innocent and his own career.
Murder at the Kinnen Hotel is everything I’ve come to love and expect from Brian McClellan. Fast pacing, an excellent secondary world, characters to root for, excellent female characters, and a powerful mystery that drives a story that would work even without the magic.
But the unique magic makes the story all the better.
Find it here: