The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
Narrator: Christian Rodska
Series: Powder Mage Trilogy #3
Published by Orbit on February 10, 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Flintlock Fantasy
Length: 19 hrs 25 mins
Format: Audiobook
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The capital has fallen...
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided...
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one...
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...

I’ve really enjoyed this trilogy and the finale, The Autumn Republic, was good, but I was hoping for great. It would not stand-alone well, but it does wrap up a lot of the points the first two were leading toward. We see an end to the war and a new government for Adro. I love the world, the magic, the politics, and for some reason military fantasies tend to draw me in. I think it has something to do with all the passions, loyalties, endurance, planning – and treachery. The characters are awesome and the multiple points of view and various subplots give them each a chance to shine.

With so many characters and changes in viewpoint, the narrator of the audio has a tough job, but Rodska does well. He differentiates each character, and while the women are maybe not as well performed as the men, it’s a fairly male-centered story anyway. To me, he’s the voice of Tamas. There is one voice in however, Bo’s, that always sound off to me, too old for the man, but that’s a minor quibble. The story kept my attention throughout.

A lot of the story works out along more or less predictable lines – you have the general idea of what will happen if not the specifics, although there were a couple of curveballs I didn’t see coming. And of course I cried at the end – but there was a good reason. I probably would have seen it coming, but I always hope for happy endings all around. And most of them do get one, in some form or another.

This is the first series in a long while that I feel like I should pick up for Amber and David to read. I think they’d both like it. It’s high fantasy, but not the standard quest with the elves. It’s got a bit of a love story, but it is way overshadowed by the action. Gods and men, elements and gunpowder – it’s just a great trilogy, but definitely start at the beginning.

I read somewhere that the McClellan’s next trilogy will be in the same world ten years later. I hope that’s true!

About Brian McClellan

Brian McClellan is an American writer of epic fantasy. He is best known for The Powder Mage trilogy. Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

Audiobook Review: The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan



Title: The Crimson Campaign (Powder Mage Trilogy #2)

Author: Brian McClellan

Narrator: Christian Rodska

Published: May 6, 2014 by Hachette Audio

Genre: Flintlock Fantasy (whatever that is)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Audible

When invasion looms… Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god, Kresimir.

But the threats are closer to home…
In Adro, Inspector Adamat wants only to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers will lead Adamat on a darker journey.

Who will lead the charge?
Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself as the last line of defense against Kresimir’s advancing army.
In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets?

I read the first of the Powder Mage trilogy earlier in the year and enjoyed it. I have to say that The Crimson Crusade was even better. The Crimson Campaign puts us right back in the story where Promise of Blood left off. Tamas is in an enemy land working his way home. Adamat’s wife and children are being held by Lord Vetas. Taniel is “recovering” from the final events. Nila is still trying to protect her young charge and is being held by Lord Vetas.

I love this world and these characters! But it’s hard to review. It’s the second book and you really do need to read the first one before it or you’ll be lost. It keeps building, the action is virtually non-stop and everyone I like was in danger at some point. Okay, there are probably a couple of exceptions to that statement, because there are a couple of characters with more power than we realize, I think. It’s one of those books that I get so wrapped up in, I just need to know what happens next.

It’s a hard to book to review though. The audiobook is 20 hours long with something going on every minute. We’ve got four points of view: Tamas, Adamat, Taniel, and Nila all with a piece of the story. For me, this time around, it was Tamas and Taniel who caught my attention, one behind enemy lines, one at the front. Tamas is committed, although I hate to say one revelation was a little disappointing, but in character, if that makes sense. Taniel is a talented powder mage and his partner Kar-Poel, a foreign sorceress, are just an awesome pair. I’m thinking Nila might get a bit more interesting in the third book, because her character is developing along different lines than I expected. Up to now, she’s been the protector of the heir to the throne if there was still a throne. We know she’s a strong, resourceful young woman, but she’s got some surprises in her.

Christian Rodska does an excellent job, for the most part. For me, he fits Tamas’ point of view best, he sounds like I picture him, a bit weary, with a rather dark sense of humor. Rodska’s tones and inflections really bring out the thoughts behind the dialogue. There were a couple of characters that I didn’t really like his voices for, but that’s just me, they didn’t seem right to me, you might disagree. All things considered, with so many characters, and it is a huge list when you think about it, he keeps them all separate and identifiable.

I have a couple of minor quibbles. I like books, even in series, to be mostly self-contained and this simply wasn’t. It’s clearly a middle book, with no real beginning or end. The other thing is McClellan’s tendency to switch points of view right at major turning points, leaving us with mini-cliffhangers throughout the book. Yes, it wants you to keep reading/listening, but it gets a little annoying.

How about a couple of quotes?

“You missed the morning’s festivities,” Bo said to Adamat.
“You call torturing a man ‘festivities’?” Adamat asked.
“I’m not a good person,” Bo said.”

and a conversation between Taniel and a member of the Wings of Adam

“Even if you are a pompous ass with no respect for authority, you’re worth fifty men, and I mean to see you in my army.”
“That was an incredibly backhanded compliment.”
“I meant every word.”

And the quote on the front cover, “The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions,” made me think- yeah, that’s why I love military fantasy. It’s a rousing speech that can only be pulled off for military campaigns.

This is just a great book, and I can’t wait ’til next year when the final bit comes out. I’m assuming the good guys will win, but McClellan has a way of leading me down roads I’m not expecting, of throwing in complications or outcomes I didn’t see coming. It’s one of the reasons I’m hooked.

About Brian McClellan

Brian McClellan is an American writer of epic fantasy. He is best known for The Powder Mage trilogy. Brian lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, two dogs, a cat, and between 6,000 and 60,000 honey bees (depending on the time of year).

P is for Promise



Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan is the perfect book for today. P for Promise, Politics, Powder and Power.

Promise of blood

Title: Promise of Blood (Powder Mage #1)

Author: Brian McClellan

Read by: Christian Rodska

Category: Fantasy

Audio published: April 6, 2013 by Hachette Audio

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Audible | Amazon | Book Depository

The Age of Kings is dead…and I have killed it.

It’s a bloody business overthrowing a king….

Field Marshal Tamas’ coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved…
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should…

It’s been a while since I’ve read an epic fantasy, which probably means I enjoyed this more than I would have if I had been on a constant binge of magic and quests. I also listened to it on audio, but the 19 hours flew by. I loved it! We have standard mages who control the elements, the knacked who have a small, specific magic, and the marked, included powder mages whose magic revolves around black power, a kind of middle class.

Tamas has staged a French Revolution style coup – down with the King and nobles and send them all to the guillotine and the peasants can be “free.” Only now he’s got a country to run and a traitor in his Council. And maybe a god serving as his chef.

It’s a big story, a world to get lost in. There are heroes, but not the too good kind, they are ones with their own darknesses, weaknesses, belief systems. There are bad guys, lots of them actually on different levels. There are the kind of mob guys, the enemy army, an ancient sorceress who has her own goals. None are pure evil. There’s a lot going on but and it’s hard to really summarize all the different angles. It’s non-stop action and I like that there wasn’t a romance screwing up the plot. It’s a city in the midst of transition, but McClellan keeps the story focused on the individuals.

Christian Rodska was the reader and to me he had Tamas’s voice. He did the other characters well and the narration, but Tamas is the one I felt he became. The story itself is told from several points of view, but it’s always clear whose version of the story we’re experiencing.

Definitely one I would recommend to fantasy lovers. The Crimson Campaign comes out next month. I’m looking forward to it. This one the first in the trilogy and while the end wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, I do need to know what happens next.

I have to say I’m glad I’ve been getting a bit out of my mystery rut. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore mysteries, but a change in pace occasionally lets me enjoy them more and I remember how much I like fantasy and romance.

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