Author: Brian McClellan
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 545 Pages (Hardcover)
Release: April 2013
Brian McClellan has created an intriguing world full of intersting and varied characters in his Powder Mage world. It has an interesting and complex, but not overly complicated, magic system and some great action scenes. I very much enjoyed this first book in the trilogy, but did not love it.
The characters, while interesting and varied, were also somewhat lacking. Their are three main viewpoints in the novel: Tamas, the Powder Mage who overthrows the kingdom, Taniel, Tamas's son and a skilled Powder Mage, and Adamat, a police officer-turned-private-investigator. We get a few other perspectives thrown in here and there, but the bulk of the story and main action happen through the eyes of these three. Taniel was definitely my favorite to follow. His portions often had the most humor, were fairly action packed, and had Ka-Poel, one of my favorite secondary characters. Tamas and Adamat were both likable, and I found their portions enjoyable, but as characters they weren't as well rounded as Taniel in many ways. Perhaps because they were older and we don't see or hear about as many of their mistakes.
So while I really like the characters, I do think they could all use something more that would help me to connect with them. They were introduced well, tapered off somewhat in the middle, and by the end I was more invested again. I am hoping that means that each of them will continue to improve going into the next book.
My main issue with the book was not the characters, however. The world building was where I found this most lacking. The magic system, while interesting as previously mentioned, took a while to really be explained. It consists of three main types of magic users: the Knacked, the Marked, and the Priviledged, with the Priviledged weilding the most power. This was all introduced in a jumble and took a while for me to sort out in my head. Once I did, I really enjoyed it. The rest of the world could also use some work. Stories involving politics are generally intersting to me, but the relationships between various kingdoms was vague. The same applies to the gods that are mentioned and introduced in here. Incorporating more of the history of Adro and the gods would have made some of this clearer.
While I did have some issues with this story, I very much enjoyed it. This is the type of fantasy that I typically enjoy most and McClellan's style seemed to improve as the book progressed. I am hopeful that the rest of the trilogy will continue to improve. The ending to this was very exciting and left plenty of open questions that I am eager to have answered in the next installment.