The Powder Mage Trilogy

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Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage Trilogy was an action-packed, page-turning series. Set in a world inspired by the French Revolution, McClellan’s magic system blended both innovative and traditional elements together.

The series was written in a style that I’m not accustomed to. Usually the fantasy books that I read take more time to worldbuild and develop the characters. I found that McClellan thrusts the reader into the story and expects them to keep up with the fast pace. This iniitially threw me off. I found that the pace was too quick and I wasn’t captivated by the style.

But boy, did that change quickly.

Starting from roughly halfway through the first book, I tore through the trilogy. I read the majority of the ~1800 pages on vacation in Mexico. I couldn’t put it down!

The story follows three main characters: Field Marshal Tamas, his son Taniel “Two-shot” and Inspector Adamat. Other smaller points of view are added later in the series. Whereas Tamas’s story was focused on military tactics and strategy, Adamat’s was about mystery and intrigue as he took us on a series of investigations. I really enjoyed the balance between the two.

In terms of characterization, I loved how ruthless Tamas was. His actions were understandable given his backstory. Overall, I liked the characters but never felt particularly drawn to any of them aside from maybe Tamas and Taniel.

McClellan’s close-combat action sequences were engaging but not overly detailed. I was definitely able to imagine the battle scenes with muskets, bayonets, swords and magic.

My least favourite part about the series was the inclusion of Gods. I love mythology. In fact, the fantasy series that I’m writing will focus heavily on Gods. But I didn’t love the execution. I felt that the idea wasn’t fleshed out enough. It’s one of the main reasons I gave the series four stars.

All in all, I would recommend The Powder Mage trilogy as a fantasy series. It feels quite accessible for readers, especially those newer to the fantasy genre.