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Powder Mage #2

The Crimson Campaign

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The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions

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. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants 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 might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir's advancing army. 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.

596 pages, Hardcover

First published May 6, 2014

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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)

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5 stars
17,130 (48%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,682 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
673 reviews42.7k followers
April 30, 2018
4.5/5 Stars

Two days. That’s the actual amount of time it took for me to finish this 600 pages book, that’s how fast paced this book is.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Crimson Campaign is a marvelous sequel that’s better than the first book in every aspect. The revolution that Tamas started in Promise of Blood has turned into an all-out war with the Kez and with it, the plot became so much more engaging than before. Still told from the same four main POV, Tamas & Taniel are right in the middle of the war while Adamat and the side POV, Nila deal with the politics and the familial theme of the book.

I’ll keep my opinion on all the POV’s as brief as possible, the highest chance is that Taniel's story line will be the one you love the most when you get to this and although in my opinion Taniel’s POV is hands down the best part of the book by far, this doesn’t mean that the other POV’s suck in any way. Adamat’s story started really slow with mundane politics which I thought were unnecessary but soon it sprawled into a fast paced and compelling tale of how far a man will go to for their family and friends.

“There is nothing that will make a man more desperate and more capable of violence than endangering his family.”

Every POV is heavily packed with actions that never fail to capture my attention, complete with strategic military warfare, explosive magic combats and the fact that there’s always something going on with each page and almost each chapter ended with a cliffhanger made this book so hard to put down. Plus, Brian’s simple prose that made the story flow fluidly, The Crimson Campaign is an excellent page turner.

All of them are really well written and structured with tons of characters developments and evolution towards all main and side characters. Taniel and Ka-poel has always been my favorite characters of the series since the first book but in this book, I found another addition to that list. There’s a fantastic unexpected development to Bo, Taniel’s best friend. His character received so much depth and I love everything that Bo does in this book, that’s all I’ll say on this matter since I don’t want to spoil you on what great things are waiting for you.

“He had an honest face, though Adamat found that honest faces were almost always deceptive.”

Despite how fast paced and action packed this book is, it actually stopped me from reading sometimes. Why? It’s because of Mihali, the chef from the first book. Seriously, every time he appears he always cooked all this delicious foods that made me fucking hungry. I’m pretty sure Brian intentionally did this to make sure his readers take a break from his book once in a while, someone even made one of the food mentioned in the book!

Picture: Mihali’s soup by Kristina Bunnel

"cook me outside my room how bow dat?" After all these fantastic improvements, what is it then that stopped me from giving it a full 5 stars rating?

-The magic systems. Don’t get me wrong, the magic combats and actions are all amazing and the requirement to use them has been properly explained. However, there seemed to be no clear limitations to their power ever since the first book. Powder Mage for example, the book said that the usage of too much powder could make you go ‘Powder Blind’ or dead but our main characters, pretty much everyone inhaled those powders like eating Pringles. Sure there’s some side effect once in a while but I wish there’s a CLEAR limitation to how many times they can actually inhale those powders. The Privileged is even more insane, they just have to wear their arcane gloves and voila, they could cast thunder, flame, wind, tore off human bodies without any limit other than range. This has been bothering me a bit since the first book but I thought it will be explained more in the sequel and I’m a bit disappointed on this aspect.

-There are almost no likeable female characters in this series. Ka-poel is amazing, she’s one of my favorite characters in the book but the thing is she doesn’t have any line because she’s a mute and the other female characters are almost all either forgettable or highly obnoxious. The female generals in this book just seemed to be there for the purpose of being hated which I must say, Brian succeeded wonderfully. I must mention though that just because a character is despicable, it doesn’t mean that they’re poorly written at all, it’s actually the other way. It’s only when the character is really well written that I could love/hate them. I just wish there were more female characters in this series that could made me like them more other than Ka-poel.

Despite my issues with the book, both of these are minor annoyances and it doesn’t take my overall enjoyment of the book. The Crimson Campaign is an amazing sequel that’s better in every aspect compared to the first book and I had a blast reading through it. This book gave me a new appreciation for flintlock fantasy, I never thought I’ll enjoy reading it this much compared to my usual Epic/Grimdark fantasy books but I did and I can’t wait to continue straight into the last book of the trilogy, The Autumn Republic.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who’s looking to start flintlock fantasy or any adult fantasy fans in general.

You can find this this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at Booknest
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,611 followers
March 22, 2018
Faye adjusted her dress and took a deep breath. Her eyes traveled around the room. A mix of emotions ranged across her face: anger, panic, dear. For a moment Nila thought she might snatch up a frying pan and kill her.

Nila wondered who she was. Why was she here? Obviously another prisoner. Another player in Veta's schemes. Could Nila trust her?

"I'm Nila," she said. "And this is Jackob."

Fayes eyes settled on Nila and she nodded with a frown.

"I'm Faye. And I'm going to kill the bastard."

I'm have felt that way.

Happy Reading!

Profile Image for Luna. ✨.
92 reviews1,215 followers
May 8, 2017



I'm convinced this series was written for me. I'm also DOOMED to shamelessly love it. I feel like I'm in a powder trance after this book, HOLY SHIT. I once again dropped all other priorities to read this and ended up devouring it in two days. Definitely my favourite read of 2017.

"Every night he's looking for the eye behind the flintlock."

So I thought book one was incredible, somehow this book was better. I just need to scream *screams* *screams some more* *loses voice*. The amount of fangirl feels I have right now is ridiculous. The plot this time revolves around Tamas invading Kez and failing miserably, Taniel is too busy smoking dope in a mala den to give a shit & Adamant won't stop at nothing to rescue his family from an insane power hungry man. “There is nothing that will make a man more desperate and more capable of violence than endangering his family.”
It is as good as it sounds. IT WAS SO AMAZING! I loved every second spent reading this book. There was so much death and I love DEATH. There was also badassery, amazing character development, magical explosions & lots of battles. The action did not stop once, seriously, I'd go to put the book down and decide to read one more page, next minute I've read 100 because I had to know what was happening, it was so fast paced like I couldn't keep up. I love Flintlock fantasy so much and it's definitely one of my favourite sub genres of fantasy and am officially addicted to all things to do with guns & magic.

can we all just stare in awe over the sexiest grandpa alive. 😍

I literally loved all POV's. I even enjoyed Adamants & love Nila so bloody much now. My favourites are still Taniel & Ka-Poel, Tamas (sexiest grandpa alive *dies from swooning*) and Bo. But I love all side characters too, except the baddies, they suck. Also there was some bitches in this book who picked on my baby Taniel, I WILL STAB THEM IN THE EYE WITH A RUSTY SPOON. I only have one wish and its to get my ship in the last book. I HOPE IT HAPPENS.

“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.”

Recommended to all fantasy lovers and everyone who appreciates sexy 60+ year old main characters.

*Sorry but I can't write a more coherent review right now, I'm all out of black powder*

P.s I'm ironically now a Powder Mage from snorting gun powder.*nose bleed*

P.s.s. I NEED TO EAT HEAPS OF BECAUSE MIHALI CAST A FOOD SPELL ON ME. (Jokes, I'm just a pig & kinda wish I had the excuse I was under a magical food spell)

“Let the Kez come,” Tamas roared. “Let them send their greatest generals after us. Let them stack the odds against us. Let them come upon us with all their fury, because these hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions!”

Review for Promise of blood
Rating so far;
Promise of Blood - 1000/5
The Crimson Campaign - 1001/5
Actual rating so far - 10/10
Profile Image for Overhaul.
267 reviews602 followers
April 12, 2022

"La Campaña Escarlata" comienza justo donde quedó "Promesa de Sangre". Kez está a las puertas de Adro y el plan de Tamas para ganarles ha fracasado, Taniel está perdido y no busca recuperarse, Adamat sigue buscando a su familia secuestrada. Y un dios anda suelto.

Solía ser lo habitual que una secuela solo fuera un puente hacia los emocionantes eventos del final de la trilogía. No así aquí, pues pertenece a una nueva generación de secuelas. Donde la secuela es incluso mejor que su predecesor. Un libro que disfruté muchísimo, además en todos los sentidos. El mundo ya se ha configurado, las piezas están en su lugar en el tablero, y como resultado de una gran partida este es un libro que estuvo a rebosar de momentos asombrosos desde el principio.

La invasión acecha y no hay quien lidere la defensa. El ataque de Tamas a Kez termina en un desastre cuando queda detrás de las líneas enemigas, con una facción de su ejército, sin suministros, nisiquiera la esperanza de recibir refuerzos. Tamas deberá guiar a sus hombres en una temeraria marcha para defender a su país de un dios enfurecido, Kresimir. En Adro, el inspector Adamat busca desesperadamente rescatar a su esposa e hijos. Deberá rastrear y enfrentarse al enigmático amo de Lord Vetas.

Los generales de Tamas pelean entre sí, las brigadas continúan perdiendo terreno sin remedio, y Kresimir quiere la cabeza de aquel que se atrevió a dispararle en un ojo. A Tamas y sus Magos de la Pólvora se los supone muertos, y Taniel se ha convertido en la última defensa contra el avance del ejército de Kremisir.

Las múltiples batallas y las escenas de guerra capturaron por completo mi imaginación. Brian McClellan hizo un trabajo brutal. Desde los planes de batalla, hasta las formaciones y la estrategia, estaban muy bien descritos y eran muy fáciles de entender para el lector. Pero lo bueno es que manteniendo cierta complejidad.

Una constante son las escenas épicas y tensas que te mantienen pegado al libro y lograr eso es una puta maravilla. Me sentí en medio de la batalla, como si la lucha estuviera ocurriendo a mi alrededor. Hay mucho en juego en este libro, mucho no, todo. Pues tan pronto como nuestros personajes descansan para recuperar el aliento, otro desafío golpea las puertas. Sientes toda la tensión de los personajes, y eso personalmente creo que demuestra la calidad narrativa de McClellan. También la enorme importancia que le acabas a sus personajes.

Tamas sigue siendo mi favorito y en este libro se le da una importancia esencial. Él realmente pasará por muchas cosas en este libro. Y no solo físicamente con las batallas en las que estará involucrado, sino también emocionalmente. Está perdiendo todo, lentamente. Se da cuenta de que está envejeciendo.

Se enfrenta a cada una de sus batallas con la visión de un soldado de salir a la gloria de una batalla. Se está volviendo imprudente en algún que otro aspecto y deja que su ira lo supere en algunas ocasiones. Un personaje brutal que me ha dado en este libro lo que deseaba desde el primero. Y descubriendo al hombre detrás del uniforme.

La narrativa es sutil, ágil, sencilla a la par que mantiene una enorme complejidad en muchas escenas en la que ves la calidad de McClellan. Es tan fácil de leer que a veces olvidaba que estaba leyendo, te absorbe sin remedio, tanto que se suponía que debía estar a otras cosas, o dormir. La trama es lo suficientemente intensa como para atraernos y mantener nuestra imaginación funcionando sin ser tan complicada o enrevesada como para perder al lector. Soberbia entrega, sí señor, en cada uno de los aspectos a analizar, mejora. Ya siendo de 10 el primero. Pero este, una gozada.

En cuanto a la historia, igual o superior que su predecesor, está repleta de giros, de vueltas y momentazos. La trama sigue siendo un gustazo impredecible desde la primera página hasta la última. En esta entrega se creó una red muy dinámica de suspense y tensión en la historia.

Y estas tensiones se van acumulando a medida que avanzan los capítulos y la historia golpea a los lectores con sorpresas.

La narración fue muy diferente a la del primer libro. Si bien en el primero yo lo sentí más como una colección de historias sucesivas, aquí toda la narrativa fue más lineal.

Las tramas son la ostia, en el primer libro la de Adamat me pareció la más floja y aquí se puso al nivel. Taniel, Adamat y Tamas. Tres tramas brillantes, épica a raudales con varias escenas que tengo el libro lleno de Post-it. Llega algún momento que las tres tramas se entrelazan en un mismo capítulo. Épico es la definición de lo que es este libro y su lectura. Te hace querer más y saber qué es lo que le sucederá a todos los personajes. Un libro aún más para devorar que su predecesor.

La historia fue como un largo viaje para todos los puntos de vista, literalmente, para uno de ellos. Ya sea un viaje para salvar a sus seres queridos, proteger el país de uno o probarse a uno mismo. Cada uno de ellos tiene su propio tono, suspense, a intrigas y giros inesperados.

El libro esta muy bien estructurado con muchas batallas realmente épicas y escenas de lucha, tanto con armas de fuego y pólvora, como con magia. Y además algo muy importante en estos casos, y es muy bien distribuidas a lo largo de la historia.

Mejoró mucho con respecto a su predecesor. El Señor Brian McClellan suavizó las transiciones de personajes de capítulo y punto de vista en este libro, eliminando el pequeño problema del ritmo desigual en el primero. Como resultado de esto cuenta la historia de una manera más redonda, y además a un ritmo vertiginoso. Los personajes están vívidamente retratados, son descriptivos en todo y hacia todo, pero nunca sobrecargados con demasiados detalles.

Una gozada el material que nos trae y va a traer la editorial Gamon. Una continuación más que digna de "Promesa de Sangre". Una vez terminé "La Campaña Escarlata" ya ansío saber el destino que les deparará a los personajes de este libro. Y no puedo esperar para empezar a leer el último al que ya digo, no voy a esperar al año que viene a su traducción. "The Autumn Republic", tercera y última entrega de esta brutal trilogía..✍️
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,606 reviews1,480 followers
June 14, 2017
I probably should have written a review for this before plunging into the last book of the trilogy, but it could not be helped I had to know how it would all work out.


Definitely better than Promise of Blood and a great action packed free-for-all.

“One man always makes a difference. Sometimes it’s a small one. Other times, he tips a war.”

I’m not huge on loving military campaigns and since this had 2 character PoVs with military type campaigns I should have been totally bored with this story and yet I wasn’t.

Tamas is behind enemy lines cut off from the world and thought dead trying to get his smaller portion of the army back home to meet up with the main body. He is totally outnumbered by the Kez and in completely hostile territory but he shows us every step of the way why he is such a great military leader and how he became the man he is today.
“Let the Kez come,” Tamas roared. “Let them send their greatest generals after us. Let them stack the odds against us. Let them come upon us with all their fury, because these hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions!”


Taniel on the other hand has just recovered from the coma he suffered at the end of Promise of Blood and with KaPole’s help they are off to kill a god. If only they can find him and figure out how to kill him. I will say the KaPole is really a fun and amazing character. Sure her magic is still pretty mysterious to me and I want to know more about how it works. But while we get some hints there is always an air of mystery to it. I’m not sure how I feel about the burgeoning relationship between her and Taniel. I like Vlora and have this semi-hope that they work things out. But I’m torn since I really like KaPole too and whatever magic she has wrapped Taniel up in seems to be changing him into something….more.

The final PoV was Adamat’s. He is trying to find where his family is being held and rescue them. He decides that he will need some major help if he is going to be able to save them. Bo seems like just the thing since he is one of the only privileged in the city.
“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.”

Bo might not be a good person but he is definitely one of my favorite people in this series. His wry humor and interesting flexible morality just does something for me. He isn’t a good man but if he is your friend he is the BEST man. He and Adamat as a team go very well together.

I really enjoy the blend of the war with the politics and a few of the Gods just wandering around. Adam reborn is probably one of my favorite gods in a book. I loved his approach to trying to help and yet not trying to be too involved or overly godly.
“God' is a funny word, it implies omnipotence and omniscience. Let me assure, I am neither.”

Overall, I found the pacing in this book to be better than the last and the coherence of the overall story seemed to be better than in Promise of Blood.

This has been a really good fantasy series thus far and I was so excited to carry on with the series that I finished the last book before every writing this review. So I can say that it carries on in a great way and finishes spectacularly
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
May 11, 2014
Tamas is lost behind enemy lines and presumed dead. Taniel Two-Shot is wasting his life away in mala dens. And Adamat is hunting for his missing wife. Not only that, Kresimir lives and is looking for the man who shot him in the eye...

So yeah. This was pretty great. As much as I loved the first volume, Promise of Blood, this book slightly surpassed it.

The Crimson Campaign is everything the second book in a trilogy should be. The danger is ramped up to 11 and beyond, the characters continue to evolve, and the principles find themselves in even greater danger by the end of the book.

From the early goings, The Crimson Campaign grabs the reader by the short and curlies and won't let go. Tamas soon finds himself on the run from the Kez army with a comparatively small force. Taniel, once he emerges from his mala haze, finds himself opposed by his own army. Adamat takes a tremendous beating in the course of finding his missing family.

Brian McClellan is a cheeky little hamster. The shifts in viewpoint come at the perfect dramatic times, forcing me to read well past my bedtime and compelling me to forego housework as well. Hell, it Tamas showed up on my doorstep, I'd leave my white collar life behind and ride with him to hell and back.

For me, one of the measures of a good writer is to make me care about something I previously considered mind-meltingly boring. P.G. Wodehouse did it with golf and Brian McClellan did it here with military tactics. While we're told Tamas is a military genius, this book and the previous one do a phenomenal job showing him in action.

I know I've been gushing but I still don't feel like I've done this book justice. It deliviers the goods on all levels: action, intrigue, character development, even a bit of humor. Not only that, the books are coming out in timely fashion. In these days, it's rare to wrap up a fantasy trilogy in a decade and it looks like McClellan is going to do three books in three years.

The Crimson Campaign. Go buy it! Five out of five stars.
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,969 reviews848 followers
May 14, 2023
Al muy alto nivel del anterior, McClellan se confirma como valor seguro

9/10. Nada claramente malo o flojo en la novela. Personajes potentes, trama bien llevada, suspense entre narraciones de uno u otro personaje y nivel de enganche de los MUY altos. ¿se puede pedir más?

Sí, yo le pediría que el final lo “cerrara” un poco más (aunque lo principal de cada personaje sí lo cierra) y que al comienzo del libro viniera un resumen de lo acontecido en el anterior de la serie. Pero ya veis que eso no le quita la quinta estrella, porque disfrutas mucho leyendo. Es un no parar de acción cada página, mucho diálogo y pocas reflexiones de esas que enlentecen y, a mí, me llegan a aburrir.

Gracias a OVER (en mayúsculas, es un grande) por enviarme un resumen del libro anterior para poder empezar ya “metido en harina” este libro. No deja de jorobarme eso de tener que ir recordando qué pasó en el anterior según voy leyendo.

No puedo dejar de comentar que los Puntos de Vista (POV en bárbaro) de la narración no me han parecido muy equilibrados. Ya lo dijo Javir y estoy de acuerdo con él: en general me interesaba más leer sobre Tamas o Taniel que sobre Adamat o Nila. ¡Ojo!, no es que aburrieran, sino que el nivel de acción o enganche de padre e hijo eran más altos.

¡Ah!, sí, una cosa que no me gusta nada: si matas a un personaje, que continúe muerto, que nos haga el favor. Si nos resucitan personajes ya no nos lo podemos creer cuando se cargan a alguno ¿“Será verdad que se ha muerto”? nos susurra una vocecilla. Y claro, eso me despista.

Bueno, menos rollo: que si os ha gustado el primero este os va a gustar tb y además al mismo nivel que el otro. Fijo.
Profile Image for Twila.
128 reviews115 followers
December 17, 2019
4.5 stars

“The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions.”

The Crimson Campaign was better in almost every way compared to its predecessor. All those problems I had with the character development? That’s gone. Those problems with the pace? That’s totally gone. I wasn't bored and remained almost 100% locked in throughout this entire book, which is absolutely incredible because I have the attention span of a goldfish, so I am amazed.

One of the most important parts of a book to me are the characters, something I think this book excelled at. We’re still following T Double (Tamas + Taniel), Adamat and Nila as they deal with the revolution that’s now become an all-out war, and I found all their POVs, besides Nila’s, to be 10x as engaging as before. The stakes have been raised as everything feels a lot more personal and intense, with many unexpected twists that delightfully came out of nowhere and kept me on my toes. And I mean it, there were LITERALLY two giant stakes raised and maannn, this book did not mess around. Speaking of which, this brings up something else.

For a novel called Promise of Blood, book 1 had an unsatisfyingly pathetic amount of actual bloodshed. For me, anyway. But from the get-go, The Crimson Campaign felt more gruesome and brutal and YES THANK YOU, I have been satiated. So, no complaints there.

I really like the way T Double has been developed, especially Tamas. In this novel, we get a little more insight into what drives him and it made me realize how special Tamas is and that how McClellan has not created a one-dimensional leader AT ALL. And my dear sniper Taniel had his own amazing arc that surprisingly got emotional at times—which I love—and had some of the best action scenes of this entire series thus far.

I need to make a special mention to a certain non-POV character, Olem! I really enjoyed his steady presence in PoB and loved him the same here. My precious little cigarette addict is so cute and adorable and has some of the best and funniest lines in this series that I absolutely live for Tamas’ POV just so that I can get more of him!

But if I’m being honest, the main reason he’s a favourite is totally because the audiobook narrator does such an amazing job with his voice that I just want to listen to him talk ALL day, whoops.

But really, the great character development also extended to so many others, creating a full cast of colourful and interesting characters, increasing this book’s enjoyment factor for me by heaps and loads.

I don’t want to vandalize this great book, but I had a few issues:

- Nila’s character is still totally pointless and lacking of focus and depth to me. Her screen time has increased only a little since the last book, but I still find her useless for the most part. It was only until the very end of her POV that something actually interesting happened and I have high hopes for her in book 3, but I hate that it took 2 books for her storyline to become meaningful.

- We’ve still been given zero explanations on how the magic system works. I ignored this in PoB because I thought that with time, things would become clearer. But it hasn’t and there’s only one book left and I’m worried that by the end of it all, we’ll still be left in the dark and that really makes me sad because I just want to know the rules and how things work okay?

But besides that, I had a blast reading this. It was fun, it was thrilling and it was filled with action and excitement. I’m already started The Autumn Republic, which has been fantastic so far, and I am super stoked to be finishing this series!
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews174 followers
February 18, 2017
I enjoyed the first book of this series very much and it got me interested in further exploring of the flintlock fantasy so I was eager to continue with this series and to find out was my infatuation with Promise of Blood a one time thing and after reading this I must say that it grew into something more; it grew into affection.

I could ramble on about this book but that would be hard to do without giving away important parts of the story so I’ll refrain from rambling and I'll keep it simple.

Reading this felt exactly like that.

Profile Image for TS Chan.
698 reviews868 followers
February 10, 2017
4.5 stars.

The 5-star rating is just within grasp based on the promising enfolding of events in this worthy sequel to The Promise of Blood. This is a good example of how a sequel leading into the final book of a series should be written. There was no unnecessary padding, plodding or diversion from pre-established plots from the previous book. It did not suffer from what is termed as middle-book syndrome; even though it did feel like a middle-book albeit one that dexterously bridges the beginning of the story to its denouement, setting the scenes to a potentially awesome climax in the finale.

The solid development of both the characters and plot from the perspective of the same 4 main characters from the first book enables the reader to further their investment in their individual storyline as well as greater appreciate the bigger picture. I continued to enjoy both Tamas’ and Taniel’s POVs significantly. Although the latter gave me a headache with his wallowing in self-pity in the earlier chapters, his relationship with Ka-poel was intriguing and touching. The political / investigative spin of the story via Adamat did not engage me as much initially but eventually captured my attention as it grew in intensity. That leaves the sole female POV in this series so far and although Nila does not appear very often, her parts provide some perspective of the consequences of the major events on the common folk.

I need to make special mention of a couple of non-POV characters, namely Mihali and Olem, both whom I rank as amongst my favourite characters of this series. Olem, a bodyguard of Tamas, has some of the best, though laconic, lines in this book.

Tamas looked back out across the city. “Sometimes I feel like pestilence.”
“That argument,” Olem said after a moment’s consideration, “could be made.”
“You make me feel so much better.”
“I try, sir.”

As for dear Mihali, let’s just say I wish I have one of him in my life. He is a gem and that’s all I can say about him.

Recommended, and not just for fans of epic or high fantasy as there is a good military story being told here.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
576 reviews213 followers
June 23, 2017
I'm loving this series. This one was even better than the first, and definitely sets up the third really well. I was a little skeptical about this new "Flintlock Fantasy" trend, but if this is typical of the subgenre, I'm sold.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,041 followers
March 9, 2017
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths

Fantasy lovers! Flintlock aficionados–
And everybody else here who just loves great books:
Today, today, you find yourself equals.
For you are all equally blessed.
For I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure
Of introducing to you a middle book of a series which does not suck,
A tale which can proclaim that it is better than its predecessor in every way.


When I first picked up The Crimson Campaign from atop my huge t-b-r pile,
It instantly dazzled me with its exciting action,
Awed me with its battle scenes,
And clearly announced that Promise of Blood was no one time wonder.

Next, this splendid novel amazed me further still with its characters,
Who grew and evolved in their personalities
From their close brushes with death
As meted out by their individual enemies.

And those powder mages who dazzled me in book one returned,
Spending their page time showing off their mesmerizing powers
Just so I could understand exactly how awesome they really were.

And so, without further gilding the lily,
And with no more ado,
I give to you the Middle Book Masterpiece,
The Grower of Great Characters,
The Provider of Powder Mage Awesomeness,
The One –
The Only –
The Crimson Campaign!

Picking up a short time after book one, things have not really improved for Field Marshall Tamas and his beloved country of Adro. In fact, Tamas’s attempt to blunt the huge Kez invasion has resulted in him and the Powder Mage Cabal being trapped behind enemy lines, pursued by a superior force of cavalry, and desperate for food and ammunition. All of Tamas’ legendary military brilliance needed to lead his forces across northern Kez, so he can get back home before the Kez overwhelm Adro.

Back in Adopest, Taniel “Two-Shot” has survived his attack on the god Kresimir but is stuck in a drug induced state, trying to come to terms with killing a god. Many people – including Ka-Poel – attempting to rouse him to action, since the Adro army desperately needs their hero back on the front lines. The remaining Adro generals unable to defend against the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Kez troops – and the one-eyed god who supposedly now leads them.

Meanwhile, Inspector Adamant continues his pursuit of the devious Lord Vetas. His every thought focused on saving his wife and children, then killing Vetas slowly. Quickly, Adamant begins to calling in every favor he is owed, stooping to lengths he never thought he would, and even resorting to blackmailing powerful people to get the resources to finally bring the fight to Lord Vetas himself.

There are so many great things to praise about this book that I really don’t know how much to gush. Honestly, I loved ever page of The Crimson Campaign. It had no flaws, negatives, or issues I recall. Pure pulse-pounding entertainment from cover to cover. So instead of writing paragraph after paragraph of everything I loved about this novel (and trying to uncover an issue I can bitch about), I’ll merely say, “ It’s great. Everything about it. You should read this flintlock fantasy series NOW!”
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews314 followers
July 28, 2015
4.5 Stars

The Crimson Campaign is a brilliant follow-up to Brian McClellan's promising debut Promise of Blood. In only his second full-length novel (having also released a number of cool short stories set in this universe) McClellan produces another fast paced story with a complex plot, deep, sympathetic characters and the same intriguing magic system. He also improves on many of the features of his previous book while managing to avoid ‘middle book syndrome’ where the second book in a trilogy is a weak link.

The plot of this book again follows (and is greatly influenced and often driven by) the characters introduced in PoB: Field Marshal Tamas, the brilliant commander who masterminded the bloody coup that removed the corrupt nobility from power and who is now fighting for his nation's very survival. Taniel 'Two-shot', the deadly sniper and war hero and Tamas' estranged son. Adamat, the honourable detective pushed to the brink in his desperation to rescue his kidnapped family. And Nila, the former laundress who needs to harness all of her courage and guile to protect the little boy who could be heir to the throne. With an original and interesting magic system already established in PoB this book spends less time examining it and doesn't expand on it in any major ways. The weak world-building of the first book (that was improved somewhat by the novellas) was also less in-focus here and was thus less of an impediment to enjoying the story.

After struggling with the Adamat sections in PoB I was surprised at how compelling and intense his parts were here from the very start. In the previous book I found him to be a boring and predictable 'inspector' character and thought that the kidnapping of his family was a clichéd plot point (I was half expecting them to be tied to some train tracks in this one). While a principled detective becoming more and more ruthless in his desperation to find his family is a frequently used plot-point it was executed brilliantly here. From the first scene Adamat's story was fast-paced and compelling with several complex schemes interweaving throughout his arc and a great cast of supporting characters (Bo, SouSmith, Faye). My only complaint was that after a climactic denouement halfway through the book his arc became less complex and the pace slowed somewhat. That being said it was still compelling; more so than any part of his arc in the first book.

Taniel's storyline started out weakly with several sections of Taniel wallowing in introspective self pity for no apparent reason. However once he got back in the action it immediately became engaging again. Taniel provided the most intense action scenes of the book and his interactions with Ka-Poel were awesome, in turns funny and touching. However his on-going conflict with the Adran generals was frustrating, with a great deal of stupidity and stubbornness on both sides. I also really enjoyed the exploration of how his perceptions of Tamas differed from the man himself. Taniel frequently refers to his father as cold and unloving towards him and yet in Tamas’ sections we see how untrue that is. Hopefully this intriguing dynamic between two of the series' most important characters will be explored more in the next book.

Tamas' storyline was a gripping account of a desperate military campaign deep behind enemy lines. This storyline has been compared frequently to the 'Chain of Dogs' in Deadhouse Gates, however I didn't find it to be too similar. While this storyline didn't examine the human tragedy of war as painstakingly or have as much gut-wrenching emotional impact it provided a more focused account of a military campaign filled with engaging and believable insights into the struggles of commanding such a massive operation. In this storyline I especially loved the examination of the impact logistics had on the campaign. While often ignored in fantasy (and 'pop history' books) in favour of more 'epic' accounts of battles, logistics were the most important factor in determining the success of any army throughout the ages. While it would have been easy to dismiss logistics as a boring side-note McCellan manages to make it one of the most integral and interesting parts of the storyline. Tamas’ struggles with logistics were especially effective as a subtle reminder of how desperate and perilous the campaign was and it was especially cool to see how logistics was so crucial in deciding when and where a battle took place.

Probably my biggest complaint about this book was the absence of strong, important female characters. Nila was the only female POV and her sections were much less frequent and less important than the 3 male POV's. Vlora. Ugh, Vlora. Grinds teeth in frustration*. I had high hopes that Vlora would step up in this one, having been an intriguing presence in the background of PoB. However I ultimately found her to be an extremely frustrating character. Her explanation for why she cheated on Taniel, her fiancée and best friend since childhood, was moronic and her repeated displays of disrespect for Tamas (her commanding officer on an incredibly dangerous and tense military operation) were immature and childish. While Ka-Poel was awesome (obvs) we still didn't get any new insight into her background or motivations and her role in the story was still limited to being Taniel's 'savage' sidekick and possible love interest.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read with a fast-paced, complex plot and sympathetic characters with a lot of depth. Following up an extremely promising debut and skilfully avoided falling into 'second book syndrome', McClellan is obviously a great young author and I'm definitely psyched to read The Autumn Republic.
Profile Image for Phee.
571 reviews58 followers
December 22, 2017
Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit.
This is one of the best if not THE best second book in a trilogy I have ever read. Second book syndrome is not a problem here let me tell you.
I loved Promise of Blood and thought it was a cracking 5 star read. It’s sequel The Crimson Campaign absolutely blew book one out of the water. This was outstanding!!! It out did book one in almost every single way and did it so well. I’m actually enthralled.

I don’t want to dig into the plot too much as this is a sequel and all so I’ll keep it brief. The coup that Tamas started at the beginning of book one is now a war. We follow about 4 different POV’s which all bring a different element to the story. This book is about loyalty, family, war, religion and power. The magic systems continue to impress me in there complexities. My only gripe in terms of the magic systems (mainly the privileged type) is the lack of limitations. The characters can pull off some ridiculous feats with their magic.
Tamas and Taniel’s POV offers us the military and warfare based plot lines. Both are fighting the war but in completely different ways.
Adamat’s POV offers the family oriented man who will go to any lengths to protect his family. I had reservations about him in book one, but his characterisation in this book showed me the strength of his morals and his dedication to his family.
The forth POV is Nila, we don’t actually get many chapters from her perspective but I’m looking forward to seeing her grow, especially with the developments towards the end of this novel. Very interesting indeed.

The battles and war scenes completely captured my imagination. The author clearly know his shit. The battle plans, formations and strategy were all so well described and easy for the reader to understand whilst maintaining a complexity. They were so tense, my heart was literally pounding whilst reading those scenes. I felt in the midst of the battle, as if the fighting was going on all around me. The stakes are very high in this book. As soon as our characters rest to catch their breath another challenge comes from behind. It was exhausting in a way. You feel as much strain as the characters which I think just goes to show the quality of the writing.

Speaking of quality. These damn characters!!! I love them. I freaking love them. I feel like I gushed about them in my review for book one. Honestly my feelings have only gotten stronger. I really felt for Tamas in this one. He really goes through a lot in this book. Not just physically but emotionally too. He is losing everything slowly and is realising that he is getting old. He’s facing each of his battles with a soldiers view of going out in the glory of a battle. He is getting reckless in some regard and let’s his anger get the better of him on a few occasions. You can see where Taniel gets it from.
Ahh Taniel. His POV is my favourite and I adore him. Ka-poel is absolutely outstanding in this book. Her character is so interesting and has such depth. Especially considering she is mute. I swear if Taniel doesn’t marry her then I will.
Another absolute gem of a character in this book was Bo. Be still my heart. I didn’t think much of him in book one but now... he is phenomenal. Seriously, his flirting and power is great and made this book even better.

I can’t believe that the final book is upon me. I know I’ve been reading this series for like a week, but I’m so attached to these characters and so invested in this world. I’m absolutely terrified at the thought of what is to come. I have no clue as to how it’s going to end and I feel like shrouding my heart in armor. But somehow I don’t think that will be enough.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,196 reviews2,583 followers
May 26, 2017
*** 4.75 ***

A buddy read with my friends @ BB&B! Because we love Flintlock Fantasy!!!

I wish I had the time and was not on my phone app, so I could write a review worthy of the story of those very human and very compelling, imperfect Powder Mages! I wish I had the skill to write it in a way which would express the beauty and power of the simplicity of the prose the author employees to deliver the gritty details of a world in the flames of war. I wish I had slept since the moment I started this book and the short stories surrounding it, instead of staying up every minute I am not busy with work and trying to engulf as much of the action as possible! But alas, not everything we wish can come true, so I am left with the meager ability to write couple of sentences in the middle of a lunch break on my smartphone while trying to ignore all the commotion that surrounds me...

This is the second major book in a three books ark with several shorts thrown in for some spice:-) The firs book was obviously a learning experience for the author, who even then did a pretty decent job with it. After all, if you have a good idea and have a good plan of how to structure it, pace it , and deliver it to your readers, you are almost set. The writing style and ornamentation was an afterthought... Here, the construct is still very strong and powerful in its own right, but the author has grown tremendously in the packaging and the way he communicated it with us.!!! I am very pleased that he stuck with the simplistic approach, despite his newly acquired ability to use as much ornaments as he would like - in moderation is the real talent!!!

The characters grew, became real Infront of our eyes and their motivations and formative thought processes​ were unraveled as we spend more time with them. The inspector, the Field Marshall, the brave soldier, the lone wizard surviver, the laundress, the families cought in the middle of other people's wars and machinations, the players who pull the strings, they all create a world of extremes, textures and visceral experiences which deliver a true punch to the gut! I was rivited to the pages and was left hungering for more! My favorite character is Ka-poel, but I have to admit that Tamas's larger than life personality, with all of his major faults, steals the show hands down. No wonder Taniel is so tortured by trying to not just compete, but from the effort to break even with his father... Living under his shadow must be a killer on his self esteem and need to find his own place in life...

Overall, this book was much better than the previous and I hope the next one is even better! I want to recommend it to everyone, although I think not every very young person would be able to appreciate all the implications and true motives. There is violence - it is war time after all. So maybe PG 13... But do give it a try!!!

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
February 7, 2017
That was a fun read with nonstop action from start to finish. Better than book one which was very good in it's own right. I look forward to book three which has a lot to live up to. There's still so many story lines and people in flux. Abilities not yet completely defined.

McCellan has a very fluid writing style. Not fancy or poetic but the flow is terrific.
Author 1 book358 followers
February 28, 2017
I had a hard time deciding if i liked this or not.
This book have 4 different POVs. Tamas, Taniel, Adamat & Nila.
Both Tamas' and Taniel's POVs were great. Action packed, full of mystery & intrigue, and a great storytelling for some well built characters (Including sidekicks as Ka-Poel, Olem & Mihali).
Adamat's and Nila's POVs in the other hand, were quite boring. I, not once, found myself interested in Adamat's family, the young Eldaminse, or even Lord Veta's fortune.
I was torn between 3 & 4 stars. I will go with 4, just because Bo was featured in Adamat's and Nila's POVs. I may though change my choice in the future, and come back to deduct a star.

You can find more of my reviews over at http://BookNest.eu/
Profile Image for Krell75.
285 reviews17 followers
January 16, 2023
Questo secondo romanzo della trilogia del "Mago della Polvere" o "Powder Mage" non mi ha convinto e alla lunga mi ha annoiato pur avendo una forte componente dinamica.
Le numerose forze magiche inserite nel primo romanzo erano in attesa di svilupparsi in qualcosa di epico che non avviene, McClellan preferisce ripiegare su sentieri collaudati e sicuri. Mi domando allora cosa le abbia inserite a fare.

Uno dei grandi problemi nell'introdurre poteri magici in un romanzo fantasy è saperli gestire o perderne facilmente il controllo. McClellan evita del tutto il problema e decide di tirarsi indietro, così Dotati, Maghi della Polvere, Privilegiati, Predei e Divinità, vengono semplicemente accantonati invece di esplorarli maggiormente. Si torna tristemente a sparare con i moschetti in faccia ai nemici e a darsi baionettate nelle chiappe.

Tamas è un arrogante egoista che non riesce a vedere al di là del proprio naso. Mai una situazione critica lo pone realmente in difficoltà e mai si ha il dubbio sulla riuscita delle sue azioni. L'intervento dello scrittore è palese, favorendo il protagonista anche quando le possibilità sono del tutto a suo sfavore. (Un Tamas non vale mezzo Coltaine e la "Catena dei Cani" è qualcosa di irripetibile).

Taniel è cambiato rispetto al primo romanzo, in peggio. Un asino pomposo senza rispetto per l'autorità e terribilmente pieno di se. Acquisisce capacità straordinarie dal giorno alla notte, come l'essere invincibile e l'uscire sempre da situazioni critiche da lui stesso create per spavalderia. Lo vediamo caricare da solo le linee nemiche senza che queste sparino un solo colpo verso di lui. Uccide per hobby, quando non strappa a mani nude costole ai nemici. In ogni scontro in mischia il suo contributo nel raggio di 20 metri riesce a cambiare le sorti di un'intera battaglia in cui partecipano decine di migliaia di soldati...davvero poco credibile se non giustificato..

Adamat, sebbene sia sempre e solo ad investigare, continua a prendere pugni sul naso e pugnalate nelle costole come se piovesse, una storia che però si ripete troppo spesso. Ammetto che alla ventesima randellata nelle gengive ho iniziato a ridere. Ridondante.
Borbador il Privilegiato invece è senza ombra di dubbio il personaggio che mi ha convinto maggiormente, peccato ha poco spazio.

L'unico punto di vista in due romanzi di un personaggio femminile, Nila, viene appena accennato, sembra forzato ed è del tutto inutile alla trama.
Non è presente alcun nuovo approfondimento sull'ambientazione rispetto a quanto già visto nel primo romanzo.
Non è sufficiente riempire una storia di sola azione per renderla appetibile e non risulta credibile quando il lettore percepisce la mano onnipotente dello scrittore che toglie dai guai i protagonisti.
Un romanzo che intrattiene ma troppo spesso inciampa, si dilunga ma non mantiene le promesse. Mi aspettavo un seguito epico ed ho trovato solo una rissa tra bulli.
Profile Image for Solseit.
308 reviews74 followers
February 14, 2017
It took me a while to publish it but here is the full review on the book!


I immensely enjoyed the first book of the series Promise of Blood; and I was fearing to be disappointed. Silly me! This book was sublime, action, fast pace in the development (better, right pace for the development of the situations because it never felt like I needed more information), drama, magic, powder (duh!) and grief.
I am so hyped for book three!
Profile Image for Michael Britt.
171 reviews1,997 followers
June 4, 2017
Actual rating: 4.75/5

This book was soooooo close to becoming a 5 star book for me. There were just a few minor problems I had with it. Things that could be explained in the third novel, so I decided to give McClellan the benefit of the doubt. But I'll get to that later.

I think I've said this a few times, during my updates, but I can't believe this is the same writer from Promise of Blood. I felt very "meh" about it and was nervous to continue it. But PoB showed so much potential that I had a hard time justifying not going on. And boy am I glad I gave this one a chance. He fixed one of the biggest issues I had from Promise of Blood: I just didn't care about any of the characters. Ok, that's not completely true. I cared about Tamas and Ka-Poel, but I couldn't have cared less about Adamat or Taniel. Adamat felt very flat, and Taniel felt too angsty. Adamat had some great character development here. I felt like he actually cares about his family in this one. Taniel I was nervous about, in the beginning. He started out more angsty that before, but quickly became the awesome character that I wanted him to be in the first book. He gets pretty savage quite a few times and I loved every minute of it. Ka-Poel, once again, was a bad ass. She's probably my favorite character in the series. He intensity and being mute just give her such a strong feeling of mystery and I can't help but love her. Tamas was also a really great character, once again, to follow. We got to see more of him in battle and it was everything I could've hoped for. I also loved what he did with Vlora. She was a character I disliked in the first book and didn't really care about her. But McClellan put in a really great scene with her and I felt a twang of pity for her. I can see myself rooting for her depending on what he does with her in the next book. We also got a whole slew of fun side characters.

The plot was also way more interesting this go round. I really didn't care much about what was happening during the last book, but I was so enthralled in everything that was happening that I had a hard time putting this book down to eat. And believe me, this book will make you hungry.

Now, onto what I disliked about this book. It's actually a problem I had with the last book, too. I love the magic system (makes me want to eat gunpowder) but I don't like how there doesn't seem to be any kind of repercussions to the people who use the magic. Sure, if a Priveledged touched the Else without gloves on, bad things happen and I like that touch. But there doesn't seem to be any consequences for Powder Mages using their magic. There is something called going "Powder Blind" (I think that's the term) but Taniel seems to use so much powder without any consequences. Like I said in the beginning, there might be a reason for that, and it's kind of hinted at, but it still bugs me a bit. Other than that, I really don't have any other problems with this book.

I actually would recommend this series, even though I didnt enjoy the first book, based solely on this book alone. If the third, and final, book is anywhere between Promise of Blood and Crimson Campaign, in terms of quality, then this will turn out to be an awesome trilogy.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
April 2, 2020
Reading this book was epic, I hate that it ended with a cliffhanger though. Its a good thing all the books have already been published, I can't imagine what waiting would have felt. Gladly this book didn't suffer from middle book syndrome, the plot here is even better than the first book. I'm getting used to the characters and I love them. The battle scenes were still awesome, I really enjoyed reading them. I love the way the author depicted the character relationship, it was realistic, Adamat's dedication for his family, Taniel and Ka'Poel, Bo etc.

The world building is amazing, I loved it, the author described the scenery so well. The writing is also very comprehensible, the book is written from Adamat, Taniel, Tamas and Nila's point of view, Nila has more POVs here than the first book I hope that continues. Its just Adamat's POV that I find boring most of the time, I wish the author will just shorten it.

Like I mentioned earlier the characters are well developed, my favourite is still Taniel, despite his strong headedness I still like him his character has more development, anything there is a POV switch I long to go back to his POV, that is how awesome it is.. I also like Ka Poel, her magic is even more formidable than I thought, I just wish she has a POV, she is so awesome, I would love to know what goes on in her head. BO and Nila are also cool, I just wish Nila would drop the Mary Sue attitude. Despite all of Tamas' flaws I still like him, now that I know why he killed the king he kind of scares me. Adamat, Gavril, Vlora, Olem are all memorable characters.

The events here took place shortly after the first book. Tamas is stuck behind enemy lines, Taniel is trying to increase the army's moral because they assumed that Tamas is dead and they is no hope for them. Adamat is trying to find his family and Nila is trying to stay alive.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,815 followers
June 26, 2018
Book 2 of this series down! While I am enjoying it, each of the first two books took me forever to get through. I am not sure what it is, but it just felt like I was never making any progress. Usually it only feels that way when I don’t like a book.

Also, I am amazed when I look at the giant brick of a book sitting on my desk and think, “Hmmmm, not much happened in that book for that many pages.” Again, not a bad thing, it just seems like there would have been much more story progress than there was.

Another thing that I encountered can probably be best described as middle book syndrome. When I started it, I was having a hard time remembering some of the specifics from the first one, but I really got into it after 100 pages or so. There are still some story elements than I just ended up as accepting without remembering exactly what happened from one book to the next. Then, I get to the end, and, well . . . the book basically didn’t end. There was some climatic stuff, but it is mostly just leading into the next part of the story.

Seems like I am not speaking very positively about this book so far, but it is good! The magic in it is intriguing and the story elements unique. I am not sure if conventional fantasy fans will enjoy it, but I think those who like steampunk, military-based, and/or political based fantasy will find a lot to offer in this series.

I will be finishing the series, but I am in a catch-22. I feel like I should read it soon so I don’t forget parts of it like I did between book 1 and 2, but I am not yet ready to get bogged down in another 600 page brick – no matter how interesting it ends up being!
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews824 followers
October 28, 2017
It appears I am the disgruntled minority. Beware! This review is sponsored by letter B. Actually, B&B.

No, not like in Bed & Breakfast. It's not a one-nighter novel. And assuming I'd take it to bed with me, I would not like to spend the morning with it.

B&B as in brutishly boring. Crimson Campaign is a book of skimming quality. That's right, you can read every third page and still follow the plot without any problems. In fact, you wouldn't even miss crucial details. Worse, if you read Promise of Blood, you can predict most of what is spread over +500 pages with alarming accuracy.

Why is that? Firstly, not much happens. "I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread," said Bilbo Baggins famously. Crimson Campaign could concur "My sentiments exactly!"

Secondly, what happens does not come as a surprise. We have three main lines again: Tamas, Taniel, and Adamat. I do apologise to those readers who did not see it coming but it is quite obvious that all of them must succeed in their missions and therefore must survive.

Thirdly, the surprises that do occur, come about not because of a clever design, but because Mr McClellan, like so many other writers, falls into the omnipotence trap. He follows the "I-am-the-author-therefore-I-can-do-it". And so there is no limits to convenient miracles. Aliens could land if it were to save the day... wait, they actually landed in the previous instalment. Why not? Well, maybe because it might leave your book with bad reviews.

What makes Crimson Campaign worth reading? Two things: Tamas and Bo. Nothing more, nothing less. The military brilliance of the former and the admirable out-of-the-box quality of the latter save the book from standing on my shelf of shame. Another half star for Mihali and Kresimir. The concept of deities in this universe is interesting, but murky and ignores about a myriad of questions begging for answers. It's like Mr McClellan is afraid to look them in the eye. More, the pity.

Also in the series:

1. Three stars for the Promise of Blood
3. One star and shame eternal for The Autumn Republic
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
September 24, 2017
For all you fans of the grimdark fantasy epics, this one shines bright. Blindingly so.

I particularly like the fact that we stick with the same three PoV's as the first book, namely Inspector Adamat with his quest back at home, Taniel with his self-destructive god-killing front-line support, and Tamas far into enemy territory fighting the war against Kez while the rest of the army assumes that he's long-dead.

There's a lot of war and interesting developments, here, but primarily it's all about the war. For myself, I think I still prefer Adamat's revenge-fueled mystery at home, but Taniel's storyline probably has the most fascinating developments. It helps that a god-chef manages to steal the show practically every single time he shows up on the page. :)

I'm not generally a huge fan of extended campaigns of war but these are quite decent. I think I like the premise of the magic system even more, though. I keep imagining all these musketeers snorting vast quantities of cocaine rather than horns of gunpowder. Snort, snort, snort. And thankfully, even though some of the highs and lows could definitely be extended to such drug use, this isn't the main focus of the tale. Indeed, life and death are on the line and we've got an entire army to manage, here!

Still, it's something to consider, horribly so, for the next novel!

All in all, this is a pretty fascinating continuation and its hook is genuinely cool. :)
Profile Image for Javir11.
528 reviews161 followers
April 30, 2022

Es una 4 estrellas sólido, pero al final me ha gustado un poco menos que el primero, por lo que en el camino ha perdido esa quinta estrella.

La historia nos sitúa más o menos donde nos dejó el anterior libro y nos ofrece 4 puntos de vista diferentes. Dos de ellos me han gustado mucho, los de Tamas y Taniel, en ambos casos sus tramas tienen acción y siempre pasa algo interesante en ellas. Ese ritmo trepidante hace que aburrirse sea imposible y te da ganas de seguir leyendo. Por otro lado tenemos los POV de Adamat y de Nila. La historia del primero ha ido a tirones, con buenos momentos y algunos menos buenos, entiendo que es necesaria hasta cierto punto para que podamos enterarnos de que sucede en Adopest durante la guerra, como digo lo compro. La trama de Nila me ha parecido insufrible y muy aburrida. No aporta nada a la historia en líneas generales y cada vez que llegaba uno de sus POV estaba deseando que se terminara. Por suerte los capítulos no son demasiado largos.

Otro aspecto del que esperaba algo más era sobre el worldbuilding. En el primer libro McClellan nos muestra una visión general de como funciona todo, pero sin pararse a explicar demasiado. Algo que tiene sentido si se quiere agilizar la narración. Por eso mismo esperaba más información y más detalle en este segundo, ahora que la historia está asentada. Y lo cierto es que más que ofrecernos respuestas, terminamos con más preguntas sobre por qué cierto personaje hace esto, o por qué el otro es capaz de tal etc...

A pesar de los dos aspectos comentados que mejoraría, he disfrutado realmente de esta lectura. Los personajes en global cumplen de forma notable o excelente, tanto los protagonistas como los secundarios, algunos de ellos con mucho potencial. La trama principal engancha una barbaridad y el desenlace te deja con ganas de mucho más. Sin duda recomiendo esta saga y estoy deseando leer el tercero, en el que espero por fin más aclaraciones y respuestas a muchos de los enigmas de esta historia.
Profile Image for Haïfa.
185 reviews179 followers
September 19, 2019
Actual rating : 4.25 blowing stars

The Crimson Campaign is the second book of the Powder Mage trilogy and it picks up a few days after the last events of Promise of Blood. The story is still told from 3 main male POVs and a smaller female POV (that is gaining in importance).

The Crimson Campaign was really, really good. Brian McClellan showed in it some of the great potential Promise of Blood hinted at!

So why not a 5 stars rating, one would ask ?

Because, while addressing some of the issues of Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign still had some flaws (for me) and I'll explain the ones that bothered me.

Painting by R.C. Woodville

But, first things first, let's start with the positive things.

♡♡♡ The number of tropes and sub-genres used in this book and series in general was staggering. Fantasy, military, politics, religions and mythology, mystery and detective arc... It's brilliant, truly, to juggle so many elements in the same story.

♡♡♡ The storytelling was very different from the first book. While Promise of Blood felt more like a collection of successive stories, here the narrative was more linear. The story was like a long journey for all the POVs - literally for one of them. Whether it's a journey to save loved ones, protect one's country, prove oneself or of self-discovery, each one had its own tone, suspense and unexpected twists (except the female POV that fell flat for me and didn't bring much to the story). The book was well structured with a lot of epic battles and fighting scenes (both with firearms and with magic) well distributed throughout the story.

"Let them stack the odds against us. Let them come upon us with all their fury, because these hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions!"

♡♡♡ A lot of characters transcended the potential McClellan already gave them in book 1. There was a meticulous development for both Tamas and Taniel (2 of the main POVs) that made these two great characters so real, so human, so relatable at some levels. Tamas with his complicated and tortured past, his stubborn and unyielding will and audacious military genius. Taniel with his demons, guilt, arrogance, integrity, insecurities and incredible skills. And both animated by the determination to save the people they cared about. But the amazing characterization also touched the protagonists that didn't even have a POV and yet, were lovable and fully-fledged : Ka-Poel, Mihali, Olem, Bo, to name only my favorites. Adamat's POV on the other hand, well, let's just say it stayed true to itself. Meaning it alternated between surprising/intriguing/fast paced and extremely boring and insipid.

“You really believe it, don’t you?”
“What?” Tamas asked.
“That you are in the right.”
“Of course.”

But despite the amazing improvement, here are some details that made the book definitely less enjoyable than I'd have expected:

☹ I already pointed out in my review of Promise of Blood that I missed interesting and influential female characters in the book. And that was a common complaint about the series in the reviews I read. In The Crimson Campaign, I had the feeling that McClellan obliged by shoving countless women in our faces. A bodyguard? Woman. A despicable Major? Woman. An even more despicable General? Woman. A healer? Woman. A Union counselor ? Woman. A rebel leader? Woman. I can go on and on with the list. It felt incredibly forced. I wanted believable, strong but most importantly well developed female characters, not countless minor, forgettable or teeth-grinding ones.

☹ Some of the dire situations were solved with sheer luck, especially in Adamat's POV. Too many lucky coincidences, too many convenient character backgrounds and skills. The same goes for the ending in one of the main POVs. After all the building tension and the impossible odds, the ending was so underwhelming and disappointing. Also, some twists were incredibly easy to predict (because there were huge hints handed out throughout the story).

☹ Aside from the Powder Mages' magic and the Knacked's abilities, we still didn't have clear explanation of the other magic systems. How did Ka-Poel learn that much potent sorcery? What are the specifics of her magic? And how do the Privileged manipulate the elements? What made the Predeii such powerful sorcerers? What's Kresimir and Adom and the other Siblings' real background? etc etc...

Despite my minor (?) complaints, The Crimson Campaign was a very engaging and original book. I really enjoyed the read, especially Taniel and Tamas arcs. There was a more defined direction and purpose to the book considering the high stakes. The epic battles, the heroic acts and a lot of emotional moments finally got me more invested in the story.

You can find this and more of my reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews171 followers
July 21, 2022
Segunda parte de la trilogía 'Los Magos de la Pólvora'.

Continuación directa de Promesa de Sangre, seguimos las andanzas de Tamas,Taniel y Adamat con unas tramas ágiles, bastante equilibradas y llenas de acción. Resulta una lectura dinámica y con un ritmo constante, con unos personajes carismáticos muy bien desarrollados y con unas escenas bélicas de infarto.

La tensión se mantiene hasta el final con un desenlace que me ha dejado intrigada y con muchas ganas de leer el siguiente volumen.

Y mi nivel de enganche ha sido tal que no me ha durado ná!
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews133 followers
February 12, 2017
Well! It's been a few days since I finished The Crimson Campaign and my opinion hasn't changed. This was definitely better than the first book. More action, more magic, and above all else more gritty determination by our lead characters. Brian McClellan is putting the flintlock fantasy genre on the map.

The multiple POV's are done extremely well. Taniel and Ka-poel are by far my favorites. Adamant came in second, with Tamas following in third.

Adro's war with the Kez is in full swing, but there is still a struggle for power in Adro's capital city of Adopest that may be effecting the war effort. Oh, and let's not forget the fact that there are gods walking around causing their own mischief. I have no idea how this is going to end, but I am pretty sure it's going to be a bloody journey.

Brian McClellan has created an extraordinary world in The Powder Mage trilogy . One that has been truly entertaining to read. I am looking forward to reading book 3.

5 stars *****
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