Book Review: The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

crimsoncampaignthe_940-492.jpg

Disclaimer: Spoilers for Promise of Blood’s ending and minor spoilers for The Crimson Campaign. Read the review for Promise of Blood here.

I read Promise of Blood within the span of three-four days. The Crimson Campaign, in contrast, I read over six adrenaline-fueled hours. For three-quarters of Campaign, my heart was in my throat, my eyes nearly skipping through the words because of how badly I wanted to know what would happen next. And a whole lot happens, let me tell you that.

The Plot and Characters:

Like Promise of Blood, this sequel continues following Adamat, Taniel and Tamas as the former two deal with the fall-out of Promise’s ending. Tamas, meanwhile, begins from a place of strength, quickly lost when the Field Marshall makes a grave tactical error against the Kez, leaving him trapped far behind the enemy lines and with no certain way back. So it is that Tamas’ section of Campaign is an adrenaline-fueled retreat through enemy lands with some unforgettable battles, a dash of subterfuge and a lot of great banter with his bodyguard and my favourite Knacked soldier, Olem. A bit more focus is placed on the relationship between Tamas and Vlora with some heavy, emotional scenes between father and surrogate daughter (that’s what they are, really), which I was all for!

Taniel’s story here, the beginning of it, was difficult to read. After the physical and emotional torture that was Promise’s finale, we find Two-Shot in a mala-den, drugging himself for everything he and his possessions are worth. It’s a sorry state to see him in but it makes the journey of him getting back to his feet all the more satisfying. I had a few issues with the way Taniel would occasionally get into the dumbest fights (for good reason, granted) with people who far outranked him. It does fit who he is as a character, hot-headed and brusque but my sense of him was, he’s also clever enough to know where the road he goes down on might lead but he goes down it, regardless.

Adamat meanwhile is keeping a low profile, trying to outsmart and outplay Lord Vetas, the mysterious, cold-blooded antagonist working against the interests of the new government. In his attempts to thwart the evil mastermind and free those Vetas holds hostage, Adamat makes an alliance with my favourite Priliveged, Bo, who is as scary as he is entertaining!

Nila’s in the novel, too! Again, her PoV is tiny compared to the others but I was pleasantly surprised by the route Brian decided to take this former laundress in! Her relationship with a certain spell-slinging character, in particular, is something I quite enjoyed..but on that point, I’ll return when I review the third book!

Solid writing where dialogue, action and general plot direction are concerned. I breezed through the novel in an evening. And a night. It set my imagination ablaze even more than Promise of Blood and for that, I am happy to praise it to high heaven.

This was an excellent second instalment to McCllelan’s Powder Mage trilogy. Not only does it develop previous storylines, it manages to throw in a few surprises while showing a piece of the greater world outside of Adro. A few accounts were settled, a new villain established and a veritable sea of blood was spilt! 5/5 stars!

This review took me a while. Nevermind that I wrote 3/4ths of it the day after I wrote the review for Promise of Blood. Blame it on my lazy ass, or on doing fifty things at once, all day, every day. I’m lame, I know! I’ll try to finish up the last book of the trilogy very, very soon and re-read Sins of Empire in order to FINALLY read Wrath of Empire. 

Book Recommendation: The Way of Kings

Brandon Sanderson is one talented sunuvabiscuit.

It’s impossible for me to think of a title that has Sanderson’s name on it, and is also bad. There’s no higher accolade I could give an author.

Sure, there’s always something to get annoyed about, if you’re looking for reasons to do so — Sanderson’s near-constant avoidance of actually using curse words is my personal pet peeve; he instead elects to make world-specific cussing which sometimes works and sometimes…doesn’t.

I could write a dozen essays on Brandon Sanderson’s style and works, but that detracts from today’s recommendation. So, have at it!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or don’t follow the ‘epic fantasy’ scene at all, Sanderson’s most ambitious project yet goes by the name “Stormlight Archives.” It has been dubbed by some as the spiritual successor of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series — which Sanderson stepped up to complete after Jordan’s untimely death — and one could certainly make some parallels.

That said, where WoT seems to have aged in terms of characterization and theme, having drawn heavily from Tolkien in one aspect or another, the Way of Kings is its own beast — and a most impressive beast it is.

With multiple Point-of-View characters, the novel flashes out a beautiful — albeit hard to live in — world of stone and war. Roshar, as it’s called, is a world ravaged by highstorms, which are both blessing and a curse; destructive natural storms, which provide Stormlight — currency and magical resource, both.  Everything on the supercontinent on Roshar has developed protective shells of one sort or another in order to survive.

It’s an imaginative place, Roshar…even if it’s not the number one spot on my list of fictional worlds to visit during a storm.

If the worldbuilding alone doesn’t intrigue you enough to pick this title up, the characters most certainly will. There are many of them, and I found them all absolutely delightful to read about.

  • Kaladin, an ex-soldier made slave, is broken by the mistakes of the past. His journey to remaking his shattered self is fraught with pain and tragedy, and is absolutely brilliant.
  • Shallan Davar is desperate to save her family. So desperate that she would lie, cheat and risk making an enemy of one of the most powerful women of the land…
  • Dalinar Kholin, a High Prince of Alethkar, is going mad. Every time a highstorm comes, he is besieged by visions…or hallucinations. Do these have deeper meaning…or are they a sign of an old, once-mighty warrior slowly losing his mind?
  • Jasnah Kholin is a scholar of great renown, a brilliant thinker…and an atheist. One who does not compromise her beliefs, no matter what. She is also one of my absolute favorite characters in the world, which says something.

These are but a few of the main characters; rest easy, there are many more, all of them interesting in one way or another. There’s no shortage of action, political intrigue and mystery in this first chapter of Sanderson’s epic fantasy. I am currently listening to the second book and it’s fantastic. More’s to come about that over the next couple of weeks.

If you enjoy audiobooks,I would point you towards Graphic Audio’s version of the Way of Kings. It’s really good, with a full cast. It’s more expensive than the unabridged audiobook, but the production value more than makes up for it. (It’s not abridged either, for the record.)

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to follow me for more! I love books and fiction, and I would love to discuss away!

And now, before I sign off for the day, a lightning round of awesome stuff in the Way of Kings:

  • Shardbearers!
  • Jasnah!
  • The Cosmere!
  • Betrayal!
  • Honor!
  • Flashbacks!
  • Interludes!
  • Crying assassins!
  • Wit!
  • Duplicitous people!
  • High Princes!
  • Bright-eyed people!
  • Dark-eyed people!
  • People whose eyes are bright even if they’re dark-eyed!
  • Bulletpoint lists!

Bye!