Reviews

Novella Review: RETURN TO HONOR (Powder Mage #1.5), by Brian McClellan

In my first search for short stories that complemented Brian McClellan’s epic about powder mages, I must have missed a few, and only a recent search unearthed other works I knew nothing about: it goes without saying that I would not think twice about reading them as well…

 

This story was quite a delightful find, not only because it features Vlora, but because it goes some way toward filling the empty narrative space between the events in Promise of Blood (where we learn of her dalliance with another officer and the breakup with Taniel) and her welcome return as Lady Flint in Sins of Empire.

Return to Honor begins shortly after the end of Promise of Blood, when Vlora is still very much a pariah because of her indiscretion, and also mourning the death of Sabon, one of Tamas’ closest friends and Vlora’s mentor.  A still-very-angry Tamas orders her to seek and capture a traitor who intends to defect to the enemy carrying important intelligence with him: what remains unspoken is that success might work a long way toward restoring, at least in part, the Field Marshal’s respect.   As encouraging as this might sound, the prospect of failure still hangs over Vlora, and what’s more she must do it alone, because Tamas does not intend to spare anyone to help her.

It’s impossible not to feel deeply for Vlora here: she’s conscious of her mistake and bitterly regrets it, but the worse part of the situation comes from the attitude of her fellow soldiers since they – either for personal inclination or to curry favor with Tamas – treat her like the worst kind of trash, even those that used to be her friends.  That’s when unexpected help comes in the person of the Field Marshal’s bodyguard, Captain Olem…

My knowledge of the shared history between Vlora and Olem in Gods of Blood and Powder enhanced my appreciation of this first encounter between them, where I could witness the ease with which they manage to work well together despite barely knowing each other, and more importantly where Olem’s laid back attitude acts like a balm on Vlora’s damaged soul, taking her out of her misery and bringing the sunnier side of her character to the fore.

One of the best Powder Mage short stories to date, indeed….

 

 

My Rating: 

14 thoughts on “Novella Review: RETURN TO HONOR (Powder Mage #1.5), by Brian McClellan

    1. Vlora gets more narrative space in the new series, while she’s only a secondary character in the first trilogy, true, but knowing what I’ve learned from Sins and Wrath of Empire, there are moments in The Autumn Republic where she truly shines…. 🙂

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  1. Oh damn, I totally missed this one^^ I read all the stories that take place before the Powder Mage Trilogy and the Mad Lancers one, but haven’t heard about this.

    Maybe it would have helped me like Vlora more. I wasn’t a fan of her in the first trilogy.. Now that I’ve read ‘Sins of Empire’, I do enjoy reading about her much more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are not the first person to mention their dislike of Vlora in the first trilogy: for some reason I felt only pity for the girl she was then, and the way she had been manipulated so as to irritate Tamas. It goes without saying that “Sins of Empire” and later “Wrath of Empire” made me feel vindicated… 😀 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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