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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 April 2015
It had been almost a year since I last read about Tamas, Taniel and Adamat in the land of Adro.
I didn't need any reminding or much time to catch-up, I was back in and enthralled from the first chapter.

This starts with the Kez about to mount their attack; Taniel in a bad way back in Adopest (after his previous confrontation with a god); Tamas leading his men on the line and Adamat desperately seeking out his kidnapped family.

The main thing here is the pacing: the book runs along like a racehorse. From the front-lines in the war with the Kez, to Tamas -- having a one point been cut off from the main line with a small force of elite troops -- finding his way back into Adro with heavy troops on his tail, and even for Adamat -- there's skirmishes, battles and fights here a-plenty.

It often seems like Adro is surrounded by a myriad of threats, and while the main threat presented here are the Kez -- things appear far more complicated for book 3.

All the main characters have it tough here -- particularly Taniel (a favourite of mine), alongside his hilariously-devious super-sorcerer sidekick Ka-poel -- and in the few quieter moments are allowed to develop a little.

One little part of Adamat's story is resolved here at least (Lord Vetas); while the product of the end of book 1 (Kresimir) isn't touched on at all until the very end, clearly a hold-over for the next book.

A thriller of a read - 4 stars -- if possibly a little too fast-paced for its own good.
Will be back for Autumn Republic.
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on 14 December 2014
The second instalment of the Powder Mage trilogy was even better than the authors debut, good as that was.

The military threads of the story were as well written as any I've read since Malazan Book of the Fallen, with plenty of action that seemed to put you right there as well as the logistical side of campaign life, something that gives a sense of authenticity. The story has been expanded pleasingly with some very strong set pieces which make the narrative crackle.

The only thing stopping me giving top marks rather than the 4.5* I'm awarding it is some of the other strands. They lack just a little of the sparkle of Taniel's and Tamas' threads and some of the twists seemed a little strained.

Overall a very good follow up and I'm really looking forward to the third instalment.
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on 21 November 2015
Continues the refreshingly-different story seamlessly from the Powder Mage. The plot continues to evolve in a pleasantly convoluted fashion with the four main themes moving along at a good pace in parallel.
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on 8 April 2015
This second book is cleverly crafted full of diverse characters and leads the reader through the ups and downs of the various plots. Sometimes a second book in a series can fail to grab attention like the first. This is definitely not the case with this one which seamlessly carries on building on the high standard set in the first book.
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on 10 May 2014
This series is proving to be extremely engrossing. The book is an absolute page turner, I had it finished in one day, literally unable to put it down. The main characters are well written, the violence is just about right, and the author keeps you interested at every page. Even the secondary characters have a developing back story which you can anticipate will bring a new dimension to the plot in the next book. Thoroughly recommended
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The Promise of Blood" is the second book in Brian McClellan's "Powder Mage" trilogy which should if at all possible be read in the correct sequence.

The proper order is

1) "Promise of Blood: Book 1 in the Powder Mage trilogy"
2) This book, "The Crimson Campaign"
3) "The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage trilogy)""

I found the concluding book in the library first, and realised after looking at the first chapter that I wanted to read the whole series and do so in order. So I ordered the first two, and read them in sequence.

Sadly even the first chapter of the third book is enough to give away which of the main characters are still alive at that stage, and therefore when I read the first two books I knew that those characters would somehow survive all the impossible situations the author puts them through. For the same reason I'm not going to say much here about the plot of the second book in case some potential readers who have not yet read the first one should find this review.

Brian McClellan is one of those authors who does sometimes kill major characters - even when those characters are incarnate Gods - and your first reading of the first book, or indeed this one, will feature more suspense if you are asking yourself "Can they possibly get out of this?" rather than "How on earth do they get out of this?"

I have seen this series described as "The French Revolution with Wizards." The story is set in a fantasy world in an area called the nine kingdoms, where non-magical technology and social evolution are similar to those in Europe in the late 18th century, but some people have several very different types of magic powers. The author wanted to explore what might happen when an industrial revolution took place in a magic world.

The most common and least powerful type of magical talent is called a "knack" and people with such talents are a bit like those with a "Grace" in Kristin Cashore's Graceling: 1 Trilogy, having one specific power. Sometimes this is the ability to do some normal function incredibly well: for example Inspector Adamat, one of the characters in the series, is a former police investigator with a perfect memory. Sometimes it is a very specific magic talent such as the ability to tell when someone is lying.

Another rarer and more powerful type of magician are the "Privileged" who have the ability, when wearing special gloves, to manipulate energy from a magical dimension: they can do things which range from healing wounds to acting as human bulldozers or flamethrowers.

The third and newest type of magicians are the "Powder Mages" who have a magical ability to sense, detonate, and control the energy from gunpowder and gain superhuman strength from that energy, including adjusting the trajectory of a bullet in flight.

There are other types of magical being in the story including Gods and Demigods but we'll not say more to avoid a spoiler.

The characters on the front cover of the three books of the series look so similar that I might have taken them to be the same individual but I think they are meant to represent two of the major characters who are father and son. The first book's cover appears to show Field Marshal Tamas, an anti-hero who represents a mix of Robespierre and Napoleon. At the start of the first book Tamas had just overthrown the monarchy of his country, Adro, in a successful l coup d'état. Tamas is a powder mage, as was his late wife, and so is his son Taniel, who is also a major character in the series.

The character on the cover of the this book and the third book looks extremely similar, but I think it is supposed to be Taniel because there is not as much silver in his hair and his uniform looks more like that of a junior or field officer than a general. (Tamas is a sixty-year old Field Marshal, Taniel is presumably about thirty years younger and starts the series as a captain.)

Tamas organised the coup partly because King Manhouch was a poor ruler, and partly because Manhouch was about to clear his debts through a treaty which would have made Adro effectively a vassal client state of the neighbouring land of Kez, whose rulers are even more tyrannical - and who had beheaded Tamas's late wife.

However, when the treaty was cancelled this led to war against Kez and not just against mortal enemies. In the fist book the new republic of Adro had to hold off an invasion by vastly superior numbers of Kez troops, whose objective was not just a military victory but to gain control of a position which would enable them to summon the God Kresimir, who they believe will destroy Adro.

At the start of this second book Taniel has given that first scheme a serious - but not necessary permanent - setback but the armies of Kez are preparing another huge offensive. Field Marshall Tamas takes the Adran army to meet that attack, but Adro will find that Kez has several more nasty surprises in store ...

Meanwhile there are a whole series of plots and intrigues both internal and external as factions in the new republic struggle for control and both human rulers and immortal powers cast greedy eyes on Adro.

The action comes thick and fast throughout this book, and indeed the series, as characters, sections of society and entire nations form alliances and betray one another at a bewildering rate.

I can thoroughly recommend this book and the entire trilogy.
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on 21 June 2016
Part 2 of a trilogy can be a tricky conundrum, the excitement of the world building is over in book 1 and you won’t have a sense of closure like book 3. However, in the right hands it can sometimes be the best book as you can basically go out for all action as you have less responsibility to the reader. This is certainly the case with Brian McClellan’s ‘The Crimson Campaign’; the second part of the ‘Powder Mage’ trilogy. In this post-Game of Thrones world there is an abundance of down and dirty fantasy doing the rounds and although McClellan may in some way owe his publishing to that behemoth, he has created something distinct and fantastical in its own right.

This is low urban fantasy mixed with a Napoleonic style warfare. Muskets and magic are the tools of the trade and this book wields them wonderfully. The war that is posed to rip the world apart has started and the men and women of Adro find themselves involved, including reluctant despot Tamas and his unreliable son Taniel. ‘Crimson’ is a story about these characters and more and how they fought against a living God and almost won.

The only other author that I have found comparable to McClellan in modern fantasy is the great Joe Abercrombie. Both are able to wield a series of characters and plots that make you want to read all of them. There is no element of this campaign that does not capture the imagination. ‘Crimson’ builds upon the strong world building of ‘Promise of Blood’, but is free from having to introduce characters etc. We are free to see the world and the action. So much happens in ‘Crimson’ that the 600 odd pages fly by – a true sign of great fantasy as it is a genre that can drag you down.

Sammy Recommendation
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on 22 February 2016
The Crimson Campaign is the second book in Brian McClellan’s epic Powder Mage series and pretty much picks up the story where it was left off in The Promise of Blood. Like the first novel, book two is also split into three different plot lines which revolve around three different characters: Tamas, Taniel and Adamat.

Field Marshal Tamas is protecting Adro’s borders from a gigantic Kez army that plans to invade and reinstate the monarchy Tamas worked so hard to topple. Though his army is greatly outnumbered, the Field Marshal feels confident that his well trained and disciplined troops will overcome the rabble of Kez soldiers. Though he believes in his troops, Tamas knows that nothing in war is certain and when a chance arises to outflank his enemy and possibly end the war; Tamas takes two of his best brigades and his infamous Powder Mages to finally wipe out the Kez threat. However, the Field Marshal is deceived and has to watch as his army is destroyed. Now Tamas is trapped behind enemy lines and must march his men hundreds of miles through enemy territory to get back to Adro and save his country from another despot.

Killing a god can have serious consequences and when Taniel Two-Shot put a bullet through Kresimir’s eye, his life changed forever. After waking up from a coma, Taniel tries to forget his old life as a soldier and falls into a vicious cycle of drug abuse and denial as he wastes away in a Mala Den. However, when a new breed of assassin is sent to kill him, Taniel decides that his fate lies with the army and returns to the front-line to help defend his country. Nonetheless, life in the army has changed drastically since his father’s (Tamas) disappearance and Taniel finds that he is no longer the golden-boy of the Adro army. Plus, with defeat after defeat pushing the Adro forces back towards the capital Adopest, Taniel feels that something is amiss with the ruling elite and has to ruffle a few feathers to find a traitor in his father’s camp.

Inspector Adamat is still on the hunt for his kidnapped family. With the help of Tamas, he manages to free his youngest children from the lair of Lord Vetas; a conspirator against Tamas and a royalist who wishes to see Adro returned to the rule of the King. Vetas is even more cunning than Adamat imagined and though he saved his children, the Lord still has Adamat’s wife and eldest son locked away in his stronghold. Adamat has to face the challenge head on and tasks himself with recruiting allies to tackle Vetas. However, when Adamat learns the Lord has a Privileged, the Inspector must look to someone from Adro’s despotic past for help.

Like the first book in the series (which I’ve read but haven’t reviewed) The Crimson Campaign was amazing! I am a huge fan of fantasy books and authors, but for me Brian McClellan goes above and beyond with this series for his original story and setting. Basing a novel in a Napoleonic-like era really hits a soft spot with me because I am such a history nerd about the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Then to mix in the fantasy of magic, sorcery, Powder Mages (mages that gain their power from gunpowder) and epic Gods ultimately makes this series truly great.

Honestly, if you are into fantasy books or authors like Mark Lawrence or Patrick Rothfuss you have to check out this series. I thought the first book; The Promise of Blood was equally as good as this one and I can’t wait to read The Autumn Republic! It’s so exciting to find that there are these great fantasy trilogies out there and that they are not just dragging out series like what seems to be happening in the historical-fiction genre at the moment.

For more book reviews google adam-p-reviews
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on 8 May 2014
Tried to drag this book out to two days but couldnt put it down. Please release the next one immediately as I am in withdrawal.
Cant be effusive enough with praise. Great characters imagination, love it.
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on 18 May 2014
This is a must! So well written, intriguing plot development, intricate character development and gripping! This is one of those novels that 'you can't put down' or in Kindle terms, that moment when you are on 90% and you realise "Oh no, it will end soon!!"

Really enjoyed it. Well done Mr McClellan!
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