Book Cover
Title Promise of Blood
Author Brian McClellan
Cover Art Lauren Panepinto
Publisher Orbit - 2013
First Printing Orbit - 2013
Book Cover
Title The Crimson Campaign
Author Brian McClellan
Cover Art Lauren Panepinto
Publisher Orbit - 2015
First Printing Orbit - 2014
Book Cover
Title Autumn Republic
Author Brian McClellan
Cover Art Lauren Panepinto
Publisher Orbit - 2016
First Printing Orbit - 2015
Book Cover
Title In the Field Marshal's Shadow: Stories from the Powder Mage Universe
Author Brian McClellan
Cover Art ---
Publisher 2015
First Printing 2015
Category Gunpowder Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Tamas, Taniel, Adamat, Borbador, Ka-poel, Olem, Vlora, Nila, Ricard, Mihali, Julene
Main Elements Gods, wizards

Click to read the summaryPromise of Blood

Click to read the summaryThe Crimson Campaign

Click to read the summaryThe Autumn Republic

Click to read the summaryIn the Field Marshal's Shadow

I hadn't planned to start this series when I was still reading The Shadown Campaigns by Django Wexler, two flintlock fantasies at the same time were likely to get mixed up. But it happened anyway and I'm glad I didn't put this one off.

The Powder Mage trilogy is amazing. It has wonderful worldbuilding, a world with magic spread amongst the Knacked (people with a special power like good memory or not needing sleep), the Priviledged (advanced magic users), Magebreakers (who can cancel out Priviledge magic), Wardens (humans transformed by magic into monstrous warriors designed to hunt powders mages), Powder Mages (able to use gunpowder to increase their strength and senses, to ignite powder with their minds and direct the force of the blast). It's the Powder Mages that are the most unique and fascinating, truly melding technology and magic together. And as in any well thought out magic system, there are limits, with Powder Mages becoming powder blind if they use too much, or becoming addicts.

Of course the world is not enough, you need to populate it with interesting characters, and each of the main characters are interesting, and very, very flawed. You sympathize with them all, you want to slap them when they are being stubborn, but they all feel very real and very human. You really care to know what happens to them next, whether it Taniel, son of the Field Marshall Tamas who felt more like a soldier than a son to his father, or Adamat, retired police inspector with a wife and large brood of children.

The plot is important too and this one takes all kinds of twists and turns, mysteries abound for Adamat to investigate (much as he'd rather not get even more involved), battles for Tamas to win, and gods to kill. It also makes sure to add all the other little bits, giving the world a history, the peoples different cultures, and even language quirks such as using "Pit" when swearing.

Only problem with this trilogy is that virtually every character is the "bestest, most powerful, ever" of whatever they happen to be. I won't give away who, but there are at least three of the regular characters who fall into this category, plus a few others that they are pitted against. There's a certain point where the reader wonders how it's possible that this exact moment in history managed to bring about so many "firsts" of their kind. But since you love and care about the characters, and the extra firepower comes in handy (and makes for a more exciting story) you don't really mind.

Also, have to admit these books have the most stunning covers, they guy chosen to model for Field Marshal Tamas is just perfect.

Very highly recommended, and if you like it, you'll be happy to know McClellan not only wrote a bunch of short stories in this world, but is starting another trilogy.

November 2017

Nearly a year later, I finally returned to the world of the Powder Mages with the collection of short stories called In the Field Marshal's Shadow, and it was a wonderful experience returning to these characters. The stories span a periof of 10 years before the start of the trilogy (with a focus on Verundish in Hope's End), to Return to Honour which takes place between the first two books. We see Vlora being discovered by Tamas, and fill in the gap where Taniel meets Ka-poel for the first time. And in The Green-Eyed Viper one learns one should never underestimate Tamas. I have two more of the short stories, both were gotten for free by having signed up for McClellan's mailing list and I look foward to reading those soon, I don't think I can get enough of this series!

Posted: January 2017


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