Review of THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC by Brian McClellan
BOOK THREE OF THE POWDER MAGE TRILOGY
Baen, January 2016
Review of THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC by Brian McClellan Book Three of the Powder Mage Trilogy Orbit, February 2015 Field Marshal Tamas has overthrown the old monarchy but his plans to create a republic are incomplete and the Kez invaders dramatically outnumber his own forces. Worse, his own armies are split, with one group controlled by a thief while the other by a traitor. Tamas’s son, Taniel, is in hiding from his own soldiers, protecting the mysterious girl-wizard Ka-poel who, alone, holds the evil god Kresimir in the bondage of sleep.
Moving quickly, Tamas re-asserts control over his armies, using their supposed division into a trap for the vastly superior Kez forces. Springing the trap works, although Tamas risks renewed rejection by his own troops when he sets off on a mission to rescue Taniel just as battle begins, but the truce is violated almost instantly, with enemy forces kidnapping Ka-poel and the god-effigy she holds captive. Meanwhile, the election Tamas counts on to legalize his new republic has run into unexpected problems and it’s unclear that his anointed candidate will win. Something is going on in the critical city of Adopist and worse, neither Tamas nor any of his lieutenants has any idea of what’s going wrong.
Author Brian McClellan continues his Power Mage fantasy series with a fast-paced adventure. Like many fantasy authors, McClellan tells his story from multiple point-of-view characters, especially Tamas and Taniel, Nila the apprentice ‘privileged’ and auditor Adamat. This technique allows the reader to get a view of what’s happening across the new republic but also sometimes makes it difficult to develop a strong appreciation for any particular protagonist. In McClellan’s case, I especially enjoyed the scenes written from Nila’s point of view.
Parts of THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC were frustrating. When the Kez apparently violated the truce, Tamas went on the offensive without verifying that the attackers were, in fact, Kez. While this is understandable as an immediate reaction, surely as wise a leader as Tamas would at least listen to the Kez emissaries and allow them the opportunity to deny the charges. His decision to go forward with the offensive even after he’d learned that he, rather than the Kez, was the violator, made him less sympathetic to me as a reader.
Despite some flaws, THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC was an enjoyable story. At 577 pages (hardback edition), this is a major work but I found it hard to put down.
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