Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Erika ja Leora is a powder mage in northern Kez, a place where that particular sorcery is punishable by death. She is only protected by her family name and her position as heir to a duchy.

When she decides to help a young commoner—a powder mage marked for death, fugitive from the law—she puts her life and family reputation at risk and sets off to deliver her new ward to the safety of Adro while playing cat and mouse with the king’s own mage hunters and their captain, Duke Nikslaus.

Occurs 35 years before the events in Promise of Blood.

64 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 21, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Brian McClellan

34 books7,553 followers
Brian McClellan is an American epic fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. He is known for his acclaimed Powder Mage Universe and essays on the life and business of being a writer.

Brian now lives on the side of a mountain in Utah with his wife, Michele, where he writes books and nurses a crippling video game addiction.

Brian's novels include the Powder Mage Trilogy (Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic), Gods of Blood and Powder (Sins of Empire, Wrath of Empire, and Blood of Empire), and Valkyrie Collections (Uncanny Collateral)

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
995 (29%)
4 stars
1,589 (46%)
3 stars
705 (20%)
2 stars
86 (2%)
1 star
13 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 188 reviews
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
May 25, 2017
Our first look at Erica, Taniel's mother, as a young woman in Kaz, as well as the sleazy Duke Nicslaus... I hate him with passion!!!

A look at how the local beliefs and laws condemn the powder mages and put most of them to death in Kaz. And a good idea of why Tamas loved Erica so much:-)
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews208 followers
May 24, 2017
Thanks Samir for luring me to try Powder Mage shorties! :) Ohhh, I needed this to kill my reading slump.

When I stared reading it was a so s o read and I was a bit disappointed with the main heroine as she sounded like in her early teens. But soon I was sucked into action and ended up liking this short read :)

I loved the premise to use

Oh and the villain is really exciting! :)

Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews133 followers
February 25, 2017
Forsworn is a short novella that shows just how powder mages are treated in the country of Kez. Erika ja Leora is heir to her grandfather's duchy as well as a branded Powder Mage. When she and her mistress-at-arms Santiole happen upon an escaped Powder Mage while hunting, she makes a choice that could endanger everyone she cares about.

This was a fun read. The infamous Duke Nikslaus was a main character in this story, and Tamas even makes a brief appearance. This had to be set about 20 to 25 years before the events of The Powder Mage trilogy, because Tamas was still a captain.

A daring escape and an intense battle seen are a worthy note for this short tale. Awesome characters as usual from Mr. McClellan. Moving on to Servant of the Crown.

4 stars ****
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews258 followers
May 25, 2017
After reading The Girl of Hrusch Avenue, it was clear to me that Brian really knows how to write short stories, which is a very rare gift, so I had in mind to keep reading his short stories until the trilogy is fully completed. This short story is set in the same world, but it’s twice as long, and reveal more information about what a powder mageןד, and what it means to be one ( not welcomed of course...). Very few authors can write a good short story with a satisfying ending and Brian is definitely among them. The ending is connected to the former book I mentioned(I won’t say how though), and it was nice to see how Brian managed to weave his short stories that way.

I liked the story,the writing, the characters, and I find myself curious to know more about the series. I'm glad that the series will be completed in less than a year, so it probably won’t take me a long time to get to it, and in the meantime I have at least one more story to read.

Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
421 reviews466 followers
August 25, 2017
Another excellent addition to a wonderful series, Forsworn introduces us to Erika ja Leora (Tamas' wife & Taniel's mother) and fleshes out this world even more by providing an exciting adventure that reads easily and entertains throughout, whilst additionally also giving us a glimpse into how Powder Mages were treated by different cultures.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,041 followers
March 20, 2017
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

The Powder Mage series is one I’ve been enjoying at a leisurely pace. Having missed this flintlock fantasy initially, my first forays into this world have been the author’s numerous short stories and novellas set before Promise of Blood . Forsworn being the oldest (according to the Powder Mage timeline) prequel out there.

In this tale, Erika ja Leora is a young noblewoman. Born of the union between Adran and Kez parents, she has split her life between the two neighboring kingdoms, but her fate has always been to follow her grandfather as a Duchess in Kez. Other than her mixed parentage, however, Erika seems perfectly normal . . . until the brand decorating her left chest is revealed; the scar marking her as a powder mage. This curse (or gift, according to your viewpoint) a death sentence in Kez, where the royal mage hunters — or the Longdogs, as they are called behind their backs — ruthlessly hunt down and execute all persons with such an innate ability. Only Erika’s nobility and sworn oath to never use a musket or black powder sparing her life. The oath one which Erika publicly honors, though she has been known to take a hit of powder every now and again.

Naturally, events occur which complicate Erika’s life and bring her status as a powder mage back to the forefront of her mind. This time it is a fugitive child whom our forsworn noblewoman finds hiding in the woods and feels pity for; a small act of kindness forcing Erika to make a fateful decision, one which leads her into danger and helps to mold her future!

Brian McClellan is fast becoming one of my favorite fantasy authors. His uncluttered yet descriptive writing style a perfect fit for my reading tastes and his tendency toward fast-paced, action-packed narratives helping to hold my attention no matter the chaos surrounding me. Probably my growing fondness is also due to the Powder Mage world itself, which is a place I’m growing to love more and more; its similarities to real world historical periods so familiar yet the magical flavor of it all so intriguing. And so even short stories such as Forsworn are real reading pleasures, which offer up the perfect blend of straight ahead adventure, tidbits of lore, and character development, that are an amazing introduction (or compliment to) the Powder Mage trilogy.

Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about Forsworn. It was a great novella anyway you look at it: short, entertaining, and filled with enthralling characters. If you are a fan of the series or merely a fantasy lover looking for a delicious short story to devour, I’d highly recommend you pick this one up.
Profile Image for Allen Walker.
150 reviews1,319 followers
August 9, 2021
I was so surprised to like this. It was a quite good. If McClellan could eliminate the cringey clichés from his writing/dialogue, I could see myself giving something 5 stats.
Profile Image for Javir11.
528 reviews161 followers
February 4, 2022

No está mal, se deja leer, tiene algún momento interesante, pero lo cierto es que es bastante prescindible. Salvo que seas muy muy fan de la saga, no te lo recomendaría.

En esta novela corta conoceremos a Erika Ja Leora, antes de que conociera a Tamas y se casara con este. Se nos cuenta el motivo por el que abandonó su país natal y algunas de sus motivaciones futuras, tanto las suyas como las de su futuro marido.

Es un libro cortito y que se lee bien, pero le falta la chispa que le sobraba a Promesa de Sangre. Como aperitivo a la espera de que salga el segundo de la saga en castellano, pues puede valer, pero lo cierto es que el resultado es un SÍ, pero NO. Se queda corto en casi todo, al final casi no descubrimos nada de la protagonista y la trama tampoco engancha demasiado.

Author 1 book358 followers
May 21, 2016
An interesting short story about Erika (Taniel's mother) and her first attempt to rescure a powder mage (marked for death) from the Kez, the same thing that eventually lead to her death, by the hands of Privileged Niklaus, 35 years prior the Promise of Blood.

Ps. I do not rate short stories.
Profile Image for Molly.
342 reviews127 followers
August 19, 2015
Rating, 4.5

An action packed adventure.

This was my first glimpse in the world of the Powder Mage. I've pondered if I should read first the main book/story or start with the novelettes,....Forsworn or Promise of Blood, Promise of Blood or Forsworn ... and so months have passed, until I felt like that proverbial donkey....


and finally picked one blindly.

Erika ja Leora is a young noblewoman, the granddaughter of Duke Nikslaus Leora, and the heiress of his duchy in northern Kez. One day while hunting, Erika and her tutor Santiole, stumble upon a powder mage fugitive twelve year old girl, Norrine. Powdwer mages are outlawed in Kez. Their powers are considered too dangerous for those in power, they are hunted and killed. Impressed by Norinne's courage, Erika decides to help her escape the country putting at risk her life and station. Erika is herself a powder mage, but due to her elevated status in society she had the choice, unlike Norinne to became Forsworn (pledge to stay away from gunpowder and never to use her powers) and so live a relatively normal life.

Soon, the Longdogs, the elite hunters of the powder mage, led by the vile Duke Nikslaus are on their trail...

I enjoyed this one a lot. Interesting characters and a fast paced story. Favorite character.... Norinne. Erika was a great lead but for me Norinne stole the show. The only downside in my opinion, was the epilogue ... and I get that we are introduced with a major player (even if I have not read the main books yet ...it was obvious).

I didn't read a flintlock fantasy book in quite some time (since Temeraire) and it was a welcome change from so many "big nasty sword" stories in a row.
Profile Image for Mr. Matt.
288 reviews82 followers
March 20, 2014
Forsworn is another short prequel to Brian McClellan's Powder Mage series. In this volume we meet Ericka ja Leora, a Kez noblewoman - and a Powder Mage in a nation where the new mages are hunted down and ruthlessly exterminated. Ericka is forced to flee Kez and the story is more or less the story of her escape just inches ahead of her pursuers.

Brian McClellan is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. The world of Powder Mages is a refreshing take on fantasy and magic. His characters are well developed and sympathetic. The action is fast and well paced. Even better, everything is his stories just 'fits' together. These short little novellas flesh out the world of the Powder Mages and only whet my appetite for more.

Four stars. Lots of fun.
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews314 followers
August 4, 2014
3.25 Stars

Erika Ja Leore is a powder mage in a country where powder mages are hunted and killed on the orders of the king. She is kept alive only by respect for her position as a noblewoman and an oath taken as a child never to use her powers. But when she finds a young girl alone in the woods, hunted and afraid, she risks everything to see her to safety.

This was another interesting and well-written entry into the world of the 'Powder Mage'. While this doesn't quite provide the same amount of interesting background as the other short-stories in this universe the insight into the life of a powder mage in Kez (whether a commoner hunted and killed without remorse, or a noble dealing with the tension and hatred their gift provokes) was still interesting.

Continuing the pattern established with 'Hope's end' McClellan addresses one of my major concerns with 'Promise of Blood': the lack of important female characters. I liked Erika and thought she was a cool character, if something of a Mary Sue (is it really necessary for the heir to the duchy of a highly 'civilised' country to be extensively trained in every form of martial art?). However the real star of this book was 'Norrine', the young powder mage girl. I found her POV's to be extremely well-written and I though McClellan did a great job of developing her character and background without interrupting the plot.

Overall this was an enjoyable read that has gotten me even more interested in reading more of this series.
Profile Image for Emily .
728 reviews74 followers
October 30, 2017
I listened to this on an audio book and the narrator was so awful I am really struggling with what to rate this. The story was pretty much "meh" - not especially interesting, and a bit slow in parts.

But man, the narrator was the absolute worst I've ever listened to. Everything was SUPER dramatic, words were all drawn out and over emphasized, everything was overacted. Also, her British accent was so bad - and why read it in a British accent at all if it isn't your normal accent? The voice she used for the villain was like a caricature of every villain you might see in a cartoon. Seriously, this woman is unbearable as a narrator and unfortunately I bought all the Powder Mage novellas in one package so I'm stuck with her.
62 reviews28 followers
May 29, 2017
smokeborn and pyromancy...
Profile Image for Andreas.
206 reviews
January 22, 2020
A very good short story. It was nice to get to meet Erika, and less nice to meet that piece of shit Nikslaus.
Profile Image for David Sven.
288 reviews446 followers
May 7, 2014
A short story set in the Powder Mage universe.

Set 35 years prior to the events in Promise of Blood this gives us Erika's back story prior to her meeting and marrying Tamas.

Erika is a Kez noble heiress. Good for her. Erika is also part Adran - not so good if living in Kez. She is also a Powder Mage - not good at all in a country where Powder Mages are hunted and killed on sight. Erika has survived to date by virtue of her noble birth which gives her the option of being Forsworn ie taking an oath never to have contact with gunpowder.

This book Erika runs afoul of Nikslaus, a moustache twirling style of villain, a Privileged sorcerer and a Powder Mage hunter. He also features in the main series and readers of PoB may remember (PoB spoiler).

Tamas also gets referenced though he is only a young Captain this book. Jakola gets a mention. So some nice cookies for fans of the main book. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it on its own because the cameos of younger versions of characters we already know is what I liked about the book.

Recommended for fans of the Powder Mage series.

4 stars
Profile Image for Andrey Lukyanenko.
237 reviews7 followers
May 26, 2017
In interesting little story. Nice to know more about the past of the important characters.
Profile Image for Joel.
624 reviews229 followers
November 23, 2014
A cute little story - I should have read it in order (as in before I read Servant To The Crown), but it made sense as it went regardless. One thing I have to say is that it's incredibly obvious that McClellan is a student of Sanderson - you can feel it in his structure, in his prose, and above all, the way he handles the nobility/commoner dichotomy. It's not a bad thing, obviously - I have two shelves of signed Sanderson books to say I'm a fan - but it's a lot more obvious in these short stories than it is in the full length novels.

That said, I enjoyed this as I've enjoyed the others, and look forward to reading more novellas in this world, as well as the third installment in the series. It's a fun world with great characters and a lot of unique little touches that I definitely appreciate.
Profile Image for Wing Kee.
2,091 reviews29 followers
March 24, 2018
When it's focused it's pretty great.

For a short story it's good. It's focused. It's character driven and really has weight to the story. The Erica story has been a long time coming and this is a great start to it. This is something the main series lacks, heart and deeper and warmer emotions. Good stuff.

Onward to the next book!
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews214 followers
September 22, 2014
There are five short stories (that I know of) before Promise of Blood, the first book in The Powder Mage series. I have already read one so far (The Girl of Hrusch Avenue) and fell in love with the series even before reading the first book.
I plan to read these stories before I start Promise of Blood.

Erika la Leora is a powder mage in Kaz, a horrible country where powder mages are executed as soon as they are discovered. Peasants are forced to turn in their children or the whole family dies. Fortunately, Erika is a noble so she is 'only' branded and forced to swear that she wouldn't use her power. That doesn't mean that she can afford to make a single mistake like helping a powder mage fugitive. Not that that would prevent her from doing the right thing.
Forsworn is a skilfully written story with lots of action and great characters.
Profile Image for Stefan.
166 reviews224 followers
November 21, 2017

“Your form is fantastic, your speed is admirable and your movement precise. Only one thing lacking; you missed.”

Erika Ja Leora is a noblewoman from Kez . She is part Adro . Smart, intelligent, capable and strong.
One day while fetching arrows and trying not to let her mistress-at-arms Santiole’s humorless tutoring how to shoot a bow – and actually hit a target – get under her skin, she stumbles upon a muddy child.
Child that’s running. Child with a scar in a shape of a flintlock musket above her right shoulder – a brand. The brand of powder mage who had been sentenced to hang by royal decree.
Instead of turning the girl over and taking a fat reward by doing so, Erika decides to help poor girl.
Because a similarly shaped scar rests above her right shoulder, too.
Erika is a powder mage.

“Life is cheap in Kez. You have to earn the right for yours to be costly.”

It’s good to read and dug deeper in history of characters who influenced and shaped some of those characters we followed in main Powder Mage trilogy.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,113 reviews345 followers
December 26, 2015
Forsworn is another interesting powder mage short story. This story revolves around Erika ja Leora...Tamas' wife and Taniel's mother.

Erika finds herself in the undesirable position of being born a powder mage in Kez where it's illegal to be one. She has the good fortune to be the heir to a duchy and because of this she's allowed to be "forsworn." Forsworn in this case means she swears to the king and Kresimir that she'll never use black powder in any way or even touch any weapon that utilizes black powder.

The story centers around Erika finding and helping a runaway powder mage which is a crime punishable by death. I won't get into greater detail because I wouldn't want to spoil a single part of it. Forsworn is a great read for any fan of the Powder Mage trilogy.

One thing I've noticed throughout the majority of the powder mage short stories is that Tamas is truly a good man despite his brutality at the beginning of Promise of Blood. Being a good man in a bad world forced Tamas to make a cruel decision in order to save Adro from becoming like Kez.
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,251 reviews131 followers
September 27, 2016
As always - Great story! I adored it - and the short length made it perfect for a little breather in between other books.
If you already liked the other Powder Mage books - you will love this too.
If you haven't read the other yet? Why the heck are you still here reading reviews? Go and BUY those amazing books and get reading already!! ;)
Profile Image for Holden Johnson.
Author 2 books45 followers
August 7, 2015
Brian McClellan's short fiction is my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I love his books, but he has a way of making you feel for characters in such a short word count span and I love it.

Thank you for another amazing Novella.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
830 reviews65 followers
April 23, 2018
Forsworn introduces readers to Erika, heir to the duchy of Leora in Kez. Branded as a powder mage who has sworn never to use her powers in return for not having to face execution, Erika has been training to fulfill her duty as a Kez noblewoman for most of her life. When a young powder mage on the run is discovered in the forests of her family's land, Erika makes the fateful choice to help the girl and put her life and that of her family in danger in order to do so. Can Erika and her companions help the girl Norrine to escape the Longdog mage hunters or will she face the headman after all?

Forsworn is an excellent introduction to the woman who would later become the wife of the powder mage Tamas. It gives insight to the situation of powder mages in Kez and why Erika would later lose her life for that crime. While I haven't read much of Promise of Blood yet, I loved getting to see such a strong female character in a series that seems to be largely dominated by men. It did have a bit of a bittersweet note knowing what eventually becomes of Erika but I really enjoyed getting to see a bit of her story.
Profile Image for DJ.
174 reviews32 followers
October 20, 2015
4/5 Rating Originally posted at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape

This novella really gave me itch to get back in and finish the trilogy!

This was an enjoyable novella. I don't really have any complaints. Couple good swords fight, lots of moments of tensions and suspense. Overall, a good precursor to Promise of Blood. 

(This story takes place 35 years before the events of Promise of Blood...)

Erika ja Leora is a powder mage living in Kez. It is against the law to be a powder mage and requires death; however because of her family nobility, Erkia is allowed to keep her life as long as she swears a promise to the King to stay away from the black. This option is not available to those born of the lower class.

One day when Erika and her mistress at arms out for hunting practice (Erika using a bow, of course), she seems someone hiding deeper down in the woods and discovers that it is young girl. Turns out that girl is a powder mage too - except she is the lower class. This little girl has just escape from a Kez prison where she was going to be excited. Despite the danger involved with harboring a powder mage, Erika decides she must help.

Erika, with help of some family members, try to the girl to Adro where it is legal to be a powder mage. It was be as simple as taking a horse and boat there; The mage hunter's, lead by Duke Nikslaus, are searching for the girl, and have their own suspicions about where she is.

Aside from being good with a bow, Erika is also a very skilled in sword play, and there are a few scenes where we get to see her in action. There is also a good amount tension and suspense right from the start when Erika is deciding to what to do with the girl, and it is upheld throughout the story. There are many conversations where I was "on the edge of me seat" wondering wether or not Duke Nikslaus actually knows what is going on and is going to call Erika out, or if when the little girl is hiding, if the mage hunters are going to find her. In general, Erika and party, face a lot of different types of obstacles and the whole you can't help but think there is no way they are going to reach Adro.

This being a precursor to Promise of Blood, it does... not explain... but shows the origins of a few events and items from the book. Then there are couple character that show here that are seen again later in the series; like Erika, Niksalus (who I hate just a much in novella and I did the novel), and there is a little cameo at the end

To be completely honest, I have only read Promise of Blood in the Trilogy so far, and that was over year ago, so I really only (vaguely) remember the main events and characters. There may have been characters or references I missed, but I don't think so. And if I did, I don't think it hurt enjoyment.

This is #0.1 of the Powder Mage Trilogy, meaning it is technically the first book of the series. So, if you haven't read Promise of Blood, book 1, yet, should you start with this? Well, I don't think it would do any harm to read this, but I don't think you should. I'd strongly suggest reading Promise of Blood first, and then coming back to read the short fiction leading up to it. You will probably appreciate and notice more in the story.

This novella really gave me itch to get back in and finish the trilogy!

4/5 Rating

Displaying 1 - 30 of 188 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.