I’m not entirely sure what to think about this book.
On one hand, there are several varied magic systems in this book. You have the Privileged, the Marked, and the Knacked.
The Marked, also known as Powder Mages, are what I would have thought of as the core of the book, with the ability to basically control gun powder in various ways and to snort it as a drug, increasing their physical abilities. Side note though: It’s weird that they’re interchangeably called Marked and Powder Mages throughout the book. It took me more than a while to realize those two were the same thing.
The Privileged are more traditional fireball, lightning bolt sort of mages and, honestly, are more interesting. Which, for a series named after the Powder Mages, is a bit weird.
The Knacked are a fairly unique idea in that their magic is basically limited use super powers–the ability to go without sleep, for example, or a perfect memory. It’s a neat idea, but I think it would be even better if it were the only magic system in the world. On top of the other two, it just seems … busy.
So far as the actual story goes, you kick off the book with a bloody revolution: overthrowing and killing the king, along with much of the court, and all of the Privileged in the city. That’s certainly a powerful start, and the rest of the book deals with the aftermath of such an event. I wish it had been a bit more focused though. The book jumps from scene to scene and viewpoint to viewpoint, sometimes skipping days or more in between. It’s jarring and sometimes hard to follow.
Mostly related, I wish that there was a little more depth to the characters. You basically had Tamas the Angry, Taniel the Druggie, Adamat the Investigator, and Ka-poel the Voodoo Sidekick. I do like Adamat at least. Maybe the entire book should have been from his point of view? (Side note: Having Tamas and Taniel, both Powder Mages, be father and son was confusing. Their names are too similar. I kept getting them confused.)
And then the ending. So many things all come to a head all at once… and then it’s over. A single shot and then we’re in the Epilogue. It was surprising to say the least. I guess the sequels will deal with the fallout of those last few chapters, but honestly I’m not sure if this book caught me enough to convince me to read the sequels.