fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan epic fantasy book reviewsThe Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

As a military fantasy fanatic, I found Brian McClellan’s The Autumn Republic to be a good but not perfect conclusion to his POWDER MAGE series. With The Autumn Republic, we follow Taniel’s and Tamas’ journey to save the city of Adro not only from invading armies, but from the gods themselves. General Ket is arrested and General Hilanska is a traitor to Adro.  Although Inspector Adamat wants to retire from his work for Tamas, he is repeatedly dragged headlong into the politics of the capital. Ka-Poel, continuing her fight with the gods, is captured. Will she be able to hold back the deities that desire Adro’s demise? All in all, Brian McClellan’s characters come together to from a compelling and intriguing war story punctuated by political intrigue and godly interference.

The characters have always been a strength of McClellan’s POWDER MAGE trilogy. John’s review of The Crimson Campaign does an awesome job with individual character analysis, and for the most part I agree with his comments, so I won’t elaborate too much here. Suffice to say that McClellan’s protagonists are quite personable and understandable. Not only does McClellan ensure that we always comprehend a specific character’s lines of thought, he also gives each character a rich and varied history that serves to make them feel more realistic.

Another part of The Autumn Republic that I loved was the grisly war and the drama. The main plot is fraught with danger — McClellan makes great strategic use of assassination attempts, kidnappings, and disappearing acts to give the novel a plethora of suspense throughout. There’s plenty of blood and guts, which is perfectly in line with the two previous books. (It doesn’t get quite as brutally bloody as A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE or its television series adaptation, Game of Thrones, so don’t shy away from this series if you get queasy at the grisly parts!) On top of this, McClellan includes several plot twists that completely blindsided me. Events occur that I didn’t see coming at all, and there are some pleasant and nasty surprises scattered throughout the novel. The combined effect of these shocks and the violence was a dramatic atmosphere that prevented me from putting The Autumn Republic down until past 2 in the morning.Powder Mage Series (3 Book Series) by Brian McClellan

That said, though I loved the plot, it’s also my biggest problem with the novel. For one thing, McClellan’s drama can almost be described as histrionics. Throughout the POWDER MAGE series, multiple characters get the they’re-dead-wait-no-they’re-not treatment. Tamas’ death in Book Two was only the beginning; the same thing occurs at least three or four times in The Autumn Republic. This wouldn’t be a problem if McClellan had only done it once or twice, but the disappear-then-reappear act happens so often that I was getting quite discombobulated by the end of the novel.

Furthermore, McClellan’s main plot feels slightly too lonely and shallow. Sure, The Autumn Republic is a war story, but it didn’t have to be only a war story. For the record, I loved the war aspect, but several of the subplots were extremely underdeveloped, and I can’t help but feel that the novel would be much more intriguing if the plot were supplemented with some undercurrents. For one, questions concerning Taniel’s love life were never fully settled. While I can understand that Taniel and Vlora will never be an item again, it’s difficult for me to imagine why McClellan doesn’t play more on Taniel’s growing feelings for Ka-Poel. For another, the theme of conflict between the lower and upper classes could have been a story in and of itself. Though Inspector Adamat hints at this with his anger towards Tamas’ almost callous request that he continue his work for Adro in the capital, the theme is never quite developed.

This isn’t to say, however, that The Autumn Republic is completely without subplots. Like Brandon Sanderson’s MISTBORN series, the POWDER MAGE trilogy attempts to establish a democracy after the demise of a tyrannical king. Thus, the elections for Adro’s First Minister add an element of political intrigue. However, I felt that this storyline was consistently subsumed by the main plot. Because of the violence Ricard and Adamat experience and the Brudanian army occupying Adapest, the elections often felt more like a warfront than a scene for politicking. This sensation only heightens after the war against Ipille is concluded, when Tamas returns to Adapest and violence breaks out. So although there was a bit of a side story, I think that more detailed subplots not related to warfare would have made the story feel less melodramatic and augmented the military story immensely.

Published in 2015. IN A RICH, DISTINCTIVE WORLD THAT MIXES MAGIC WITH TECHNOLOGY, WHO COULD STAND AGAINST MAGES THAT CONTROL GUNPOWDER AND BULLETS?  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… THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.


  • Kevin Wei

    KEVIN WEI, with us since December 2014, is political/digital strategist based in Harlem. Secretly, Kevin has always believed in dragons. Not the Smaug kind of dragon, only the friendly ones that invite you in for tea (Funke’s Dragon Rider was the story that mercilessly hauled him into the depths of SF/F at the ripe old age of 5). Kevin loves epic fantasy, military SF/F, New Weird, and some historical fantasy; some of his favorite authors include Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Django Wexler, and Joe Abercrombie. In his view, a good book requires not only a good character set and storyline, but also beautiful prose — he's extremely particular about this last bit. You can find him at:

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