My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Landfall has fallen. The Dynize have taken over and are bringing in their armies. Lady Vlora Flint and Ben Styke are fleeing with their troops while protecting the refugees. Michel Bravis remains in Landfall attempting to help refugees escape the city. The Red Hand and his forces have enacted a plan that will require Vlora, Ben, Michel, and their allies to do their part and perhaps end the Dynize threat for good.
Wrath of Empire is a solid sequel to Sins of Empire. Anyone who has read the Powder Mage trilogy or Sins of Empire will undoubtedly have a great feel for how the story will go. The story has multiple point of view characters, intense army battles, espionage, and more than it's fair share of arrogant pricks.
The best part of the story for me is that Brian McClellan really delved deep into the psyches of Ben Styke and Michel Bravis. The reader gets to learn of both of them as men fully and they each go through intense quests externally and internally. Ben starts to look at himself and who he was and does not like everything he sees. Michel is forced into a massively uncomfortable spot on minimal information and the results aren't entirely what I expected. I didn't care for him at all at the end of the first book so the change was enjoyable.
The third point of view character, Vlora, I wasn't entirely thrilled with. Vlora had a quote about herself that summed up her storyline in this book,
"She wasn't going to fight her way out of this -- her only chance was to talk. Unfortunately, she was not good at talking."
Vlora truly since the start of the story has done a magnificent job of making enemies instead of friends. She did a reasonable job making a few friends, but a bit of diplomacy would have saved her untold amounts of turmoil. I can say that Vlora does care deeply about her troops and she's willing to do whatever she can to protect them. Her growth just seems minimal.
The strange part about the book they continues to bother me slightly is the Dynize. They seem to behave as stereotypically Asian people despite being a bunch of red headed characters. They have their family name before their name like Asians like Ka-Sedial. Their dress is a more Asian style. Seemingly everything about that reads as though they should be Asian. I just find the choice to be odd. I have to continually remind myself they are a bunch of redheads as I continually picture Asian people when I read about their interactions.
Wrath of Empire suffers from the same shortcomings as it's predecessors as the villains are largely unexlpored. In the Powder Mage trilogy there was no particularly main villain rather than a nation against another nation. The occasional villain would appear such as Duke Nikslaus or Kresimir, but the story never delves into these individuals enough to make them the enjoyable adversaries they should be. The same problem exists in this series. Outside of the elderly Ka-Sedial and a few of his minions there is no one to specifically root against. It just focuses on the nameless Dynize who are out to get the protagonists. I wish the story would delve into an strong antagonist or two as it would increase the tension for me.
Wrath of Empire was solid, it's best trait however is it left me excited to read the conclusion of the trilogy.
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