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Publisher's Summary

When invasion looms...

Tamas' invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counteroffensive 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, Kresimir.

But the threats are closer to home...

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 will lead Adamat on a darker journey.

Who will lead the charge?

Tamas' 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. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself as the last line of defense against Kresimir's advancing army.

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? The Crimson Campaign is the epic sequel to Brian McClellan's Promise of Blood.

©2014 Brian McClellan (P)2014 Hachette Audio

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Even better than the first, with a few new quirks

I really enjoyed the first book of the Powder Mage trilogy, and was, in many ways, even more impressed by the second. After the ending of the first book, I was a bit worried that this novel would represent the typical weak middle of a fantasy trilogy, especially a trilogy by a new writer, but McClellan does a great job of both upping the stakes and the action, as well as providing many twists without punching too many holes in the plot. In short, if you liked the first book, this one has more magic, more detective work, and more Napoleonic battles, and is generally better in every way.

Except... There were a few annoyances that crept into this novel. The first was purely stylistic. McClellan really likes cutting between his characters, leaving them at cliff-hanger moments to jump to the next POV. While this can sometimes build excitement and suspense, it starts to get a little tiring, as plots are interrupted at key moments, and sometimes only returned to after the action is complete. It isn't terrible, but it did bother me at particular points.

The second problem is a bit deeper. McClellan is not particularly good at writing about relationships. He tells us that people love each other, but it is usually completely unconvincing. For example, the ex-fiancee of one of the main characters is someone we are apparently supposed to care a lot about, but she remains a cypher, as does the relationships between most of the other couples in the novel. Some time is spent on her motivations, but it is hard to really get invested in it, given how little personality or back story she has.

At the root of this, the problem really seems to be that McClellan has trouble writing women, a not altogether unheard-of problem in fantasy. His main female characters are all rather odd and one-dimensional, ranging from mute women to venial generals to the strangely maternal and sketchily-written laundress. With one exception, there really is no overt issue here, it isn't like the author seems to have a problem with women or placing them in positions of authority or power, more that he doesn't feel comfortable using them as characters, which results in some oddness in the novel, especially in relationships. (The exception, by the way, is that in this novel McClellan uses rape, and the threat of rape, quite a bit in ways that seemed unnecessary and uncomfortable).

Don't let these criticisms turn you away from the series, which really is quite good, and better than most epic fantasy. The worldbuilding is terrific, the action is great, and the reading is superb. I am already downloading the next one as I write this review.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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I Was Extremely Surprised!!

This book was so much better than the first book... I didn't expect it to be like this.. when i red the first book, i have enjoyed it, but didn't really love it.. but this book made me a big fan of the series. Characters really develop in this book and secrets come to life.. I was really amazed of the the events and how things changed to the characters.

The ending of this book was really good... I can't wait to get the third book and know how things end.

Narration was really awesome... The narrator brought the characters to life and gave them for each a unique identity.

I highly recommend this book and this series .

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Lore
  • SAN JOSE, CA, United States
  • 07-10-15

Book 2 ratchets up the tension.

All of the main characters return and find themselves in the thick of things. Field Marshal Tamas is cut off behind enemy lines and presumed dead, Taniel Two-Shot struggles to find motivation and must fight on despite the news about his father, and Inspector Adamat tries to recover his kidnapped family while investigating some very dangerous people. The vacuum of power caused by the coup and then the presumed death of Tamas opens the door for a lot of political treachery and undermines the power of both Adamat and Taniel who fall out of favor without Tamas to back them.

The characters get fleshed out a bit in this book, which was definitely needed, and the overall story arc remains strong. Christian Rodska returns as narrator and does another good job with the material. If you liked the first book then there is no reason to think that you won't like book 2.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Story continues in the 2nd book, but drags a bit..

With this being the 2nd book in the trilogy, the story does drag a bit. There are some interesting character arcs and we get more in depth into some of their backgrounds- some questions are answered, and more arise.

Overall though, the story is lacking a bit of tension and drama. It's not that there aren't significant challenges for the characters to overcome, but they all feel significant only relative to the characters themselves as opposed to world changing, epic struggles (though I suppose there are still hints and overtones of that). Some of what happens in this book feels extraneous though, and I think a lot of it could have been condensed or omitted without loosing much of the essence (but that's obviously a highly subjective opinion).

The good news is that, at this point, you're up to speed with who the characters are, what is happening in this world, and (on a surface level) why. Very few new characters are introduced in this book, which is actually a plus in my mind. I do think the characters themselves are a bit more "fleshed" out in this book as opposed to the 1st- they feel more real and "flawed" (in a good way).

Again, Christian Rodska does a fair job with most of the characters- a few are a bit too close to distinguish easily, but there is a pretty wide range of inflections and dialects that he can use to help embellish their readings, but it's not as effective as some of the other readers I've heard. Also, as mentioned in my 1st review, his younger characters and the opposite gender doesn't come off as believably. But there are a few characters that he just nails- when it's good, it's really good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Zac
  • Knoxville,Tn
  • 05-12-14

Upped the ante

If you could sum up The Crimson Campaign in three words, what would they be?

Ho Lee Shit

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Crimson Campaign?

Taniel's moments of rage and how I wished he could just cut loose and bash all the generals.

What about Christian Rodska’s performance did you like?

Fantastic performance all around.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I hate this question. No sane person would want to listen to ANY book for 20 hrs straight. Was it good? It was absolutely fantastic. Do I want to listen to the next? Hell yeah. This series just catapulted to the "read/listen-to-the-day-it-is-released" list.

Any additional comments?

A+, five stars, out of the ballpark. This is one of the best sequels I've listened to/read. Characterization is off the charts, action is whiplash, and creativity is phenomenal. Thank you, Mr. McClellan for a wonderful three days.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Earworm

This is an amazing tale. my only warning is this...it may be hard to stop listening and you'll certainly lose sleep rather than miss even a minute.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story, hard to put down.

This series has been a fun one for sure. Great characters, interesting magic system, and very good action and pace.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Accidental Discovery

Amazed! Can't wait to finish th's trilogy, yet I will be sad when it ends.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Elizabeth
  • Provo, UT, United States
  • 03-27-15

egh, so so.

This book was ok. Characters lack depth, and lack any level of maturity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Better than the first book.

Really enjoyed this one. Some of the characters really came into their own and the relationships and storyline became more compelling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful