Name: The Crimson Campaign
Author: Brian McClellan
Number of Pages: 593 (Paperback)
Published: 22nd January 2015 by Orbit
Genre: Epic Fantasy
‘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. – from Goodreads
The Crimson Campaign is the second book in the Powder Mage trilogy, and once again launches straight into the thick of the action.
Inspector Adamat seeks to be reunited with his family, and will go to great lengths to ensure they are safe.
Field Marshal Tamas is lost behind enemy lines and presumed dead. It’s probably not too much of a spoiler to say that of course he’s not dead, he’s actually planning to stage an attack against the Kez, but it soon becomes apparent that he faces yet more betrayal.
Elsewhere, Taniel Two-Shot, believing he did indeed kill the god Kresimir is trying to lose himself in mala to escape his memories.
There is so much going on in The Crimson Campaign, and so many developing storylines and revelations about various characters. A new threat in battle comes from the Black Wardens. Apparently someone has learned how to makes Wardens of Powder Mages, which makes them more deadly and a formidable enemy. There are rumours that Kresimir walks amongst the men of the Kez army wearing a mask with only one eye hole, and seeking out ‘the eye behind the flintlock‘, the man who tried to kill him, driven almost mad in his obsession.
There is scheming and treachery aplenty, both on the battlefields and behind the scenes, which makes this an interesting read.
There are so many great characters in The Crimson Campaign. I really like the developing relationship between Taniel and Ka-Poel. That they don’t communicate through words makes their exchanges all the more compelling, especially when she stands up to him, or to others on his behalf. I love that we still probably don’t know the full extent of Ka-Poel’s powers. She’s already done so much that to think the next book may offer even more is exciting.
I also really like Nila, the girl whom Vetas is holding captive, and Fell, a woman who works for Ricard Tumblar and may be more than she first appears.
As in Promise of Blood, when the Privileged display their powers there are major consequences, and these are always some of my favourites scenes. I love the magic and the sheer scale of power these people have. I can’t mention the Privileged without an honorary mention for Bo. He’s another of the characters I really like and I think interesting times lie ahead for him in The Autumn Republic (am trying my best not to give anything away regarding certain other characters here!).
I really enjoyed the continuing adventures of the main characters, and followed them through every page into greater dangers in the face of enemies and traitors. I found myself thinking ‘just one more chapter’ far too often, and was sad to see the book end. The good thing, of course, is that I still have another book to read, The Autumn Republic, so I’ll definitely be reading that one as soon as I can.