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The Powder Mage, by Brian McClellan

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We already have a thread for The Crimson Campaign, but I figure it's better to have one for the series as a whole, not just for one book - the second one on top of that.

 

I read Promise of Blood a not too long ago and was happy to find out that it was a really solid book - most of Brandon's recommendations are so, but every now and then our tastes diverge. Magic based on powder is definitely not common in the fantasy genre (maybe steampunk features it more?), so I was at least happy to see something new and weird. The actual mechanics weren't as complicated as I would've liked, and the similarity to Allomancy was obvious (not to imply Brian was copying Brandon or anything, just a statement of fact), but the other magic systems made up for it, I think. There is a lot of potential with the Knacked.

 

Actually, now that I think about it, the main magics of the series (Privileged, Knacked, Marked - I am going to ignore Ka-Poel's voodoo for now) could represent the progress of the people's way of thinking about the unexplained. The Privileged wield magic that's powerful, wild, and largely under the umbrella of "soft magic" - it could be treated as a metaphor for a more primitive view of the world. The Marked, the powder mages, are on the other end of the spectrum - their magic features an almost scientific precision in both its cost and its effects. Plus, there is also the bit about the ingredient required for it - powder, a well-understood symbol of scientific progress, a product of humankind's mastery over the natural elements. And finally the Knacked, sitting kind of in the middle - their Knacks definitely lean towards what the Privileged can do, with their mysterious and strange effects, but the fact that they are very specific and contained nudges them towards science as well. I am going to continue ignoring Ka-Poel, because it's late and I am too tired to think where she fits, if she does.

 

Look at me, being all excited about magic, when it wasn't the magic that grabbed me. It was the characters. Tamas and Tanael, for the most port, were both very interesting and dynamic characters. Both had solid personalities, but with a flaw or two that made them unpredictable at times. Tamas' hate for whatshsiface from Kez may have felt a little exaggerated, since we never actually saw how much the Field Marshal loved his wife, so his impulsive behavior was a little weird at times, but I could buy it. Taniel was better, but he felt too much like an escapist to me, and I am not sure that was well justified in the text. Adamat was probably the most interesting and well-developed out of all the main characters, even if I usually enjoyed reading about Taniel the most. The servant girl, Nila (?), felt a little forced in Promise of Blood, but she managed to find her place in The Crimson Campaign.

 

And look at me again, writing essays and stuff. I blame the tiredness again. Let's see what others have to say.

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It's also interesting that Priveleged represent the Nobility, Powder Mages are the emerging middle class, and knacked are lower class mostly. Brian has spoken on this before. I love this series and his short storie are all awesome. Hopes End and Servant of the Crown are the best.

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I still need to make my way through the short stories, but they might have to wait a bit - if I drag my feet with David Hair's Mage's Blood, I might have to jump straight into Brent Weeks' The Broken Eye. But then, I got a Reddit reply from the McClellan, so I am almost obliged to prioritize him...

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Yeah, he's a high priority for me because I'm from Cleveland. I've met him at a signing, he was super nice. I also love his books, which helps.

Super looking forward to Broken Eye tho.

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I've only read the first book, but I seriously enjoyed it, and the second is on my wishlist. Personally I didn't enjoy Taniel as a character - I felt he had stupid reasons for doing things - but that was Taniel's fault, not Brian's. As in, a character personality that just didn't gel with me, rather than a badly designed character. But Tamas was awesome - the scene where he insisted the doctor guy remove that star from his leg is my favorite on in the book - and I loved Adamat, he was probably my favorite of the four POV's. Nila had potential, and I hope her story gets elaborated in the next book. 

 

I did wish that we'd had at least a few chapters that introduced us to Tamas's wife and especially Taniel's fiance, whatever her name was. I felt his excuse for over dosing (his fiance cheated on him) was weak since I didn't know the character at all so, honestly, I didn't really care, and when it turned out that they hadn't even loved each other, it was even weaker. I'm reserving total judgment until I've read the whole series, though.

 

another thing that felt weirdly stilted was Taniel's and Tama's move from "lmao gods dont exist" to "oh no she's summoning Kresimir we must sacrifice our lives to stop her" was unrealistic. It was too sudden, with no distinct "I believe this because of such and such" point. (does that make sense?)

 

Am I the only one who doesn't trust Olem I mean, I loved Olem, he's aweosme but... i don't know, I just don't trust him. He feels too good to be true. Randomly comes into Tamas's life and suddenly willing to do anything to save Tamas. What did Tamas ever do for him? 

Haha, maybe I'm just a cynic. But I have a built in wariness for the way-too-nice characters in any book. 

 

Here I am, grumbling when actually I loved the book.
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Yeah, both Tamas' and Taniel's backstories felt a little... forced, I guess, though that's a strong word. For a few pages in the first book I was hoping we'll get more from Taniel and Vlora, it looked like a part of the plot was them finally figuring out their relationship, either bringing it to a closure or rekindling it. Nope. Didn't happen. That entire thing was kind of ignored after page 20 or so. 

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It looks like Book 3 is slated for release relatively soon (you sure can tell he's Sanderson's student, he's nothing if not prolific!)

February 14th, he'll be at the Barnes & Nobles in Mentor, OH, and that is definitely close enough for me to make it I should basically all but be there! I'll of course get a signed copy of The Autumn Republic, but I may even ask him to sign my copy of Mistborn! ;) Signing other authors books seems to be a fun hobby of theirs. (I'm looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss) :P

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Hmm, I hadn't thought to check the Events section on his website. I am a little surprised I didn't get an email about an upcoming tour - though it looks like this is not really a tour.

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Yeah, I only saw the event when randomly looking through the event calendar at my local Barnes & Nobles. Does look like he seems to just do a few local book signings for his releases, and that's about it. I can't wait to meet him, as I've heard he's an extremely nice and friendly guy!

Also, I do believe I had a few questions that I meant to ask him about the Books, but that was pre-Book 2. So I may have to reread the first two real quick and see what I can come up with. (In the true nature of 17th Shard Theorizing/Speculation. :P )

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Or you could ask here :P

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Or you could ask here :P

 

Well, I was going to go through the threads and gather the questions that we have speculated on and see what other good stuff that's been discussed that I could run my him. It's all about getting that RAFO! :P

 

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Super stoked for this release. 

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Just came from a signing at a local library here in NE Ohio (where McClellan lives - awesome that he's local for us!). Very approachable and engaging, and it was easier to get one's questions answered in a crowd of 30 than at one of Brandon's [huge] signings.

 

I also found out that I'm not the only one who uses the short fiction to pass time on the treadmill (with really large font for easy reading).

 

Good news: McClellan said he's writing another trilogy, set on the same planet as the first one and with the same magic systems, but 10 years later and in a different part of the world. Sounds like no crossover characters are planned at this point. He said readers should be able to start with either trilogy and move to the other one without a problem. He's contracted to publish 1 book per year, and plans to continue self-publishing short stories and novellas on the side, in addition to the books published by Orbit.

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Just came from a signing at a local library here in NE Ohio (where McClellan lives - awesome that he's local for us!). Very approachable and engaging, and it was easier to get one's questions answered in a crowd of 30 than at one of Brandon's [huge] signings.

 

I also found out that I'm not the only one who uses the short fiction to pass time on the treadmill (with really large font for easy reading).

 

Good news: McClellan said he's writing another trilogy, set on the same planet as the first one and with the same magic systems, but 10 years later and in a different part of the world. Sounds like no crossover characters are planned at this point. He said readers should be able to start with either trilogy and move to the other one without a problem. He's contracted to publish 1 book per year, and plans to continue self-publishing short stories and novellas on the side, in addition to the books published by Orbit.

 

He's really nice to meet in person.  I met him at a signing for Promise of Blood at the B & N in Mentor.  I wish I could have made it to that signing yesterday.  I saw a sign for it at the Middlefield library and it sounded cool. 

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This has been on TBR list for a while. Was trying to decide if I should start The Powder Mage or The Magicians.

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They are so very very different...

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Just finished The Crimson Campaign and starting The Autumn Republic now. Two book in I really like it.  I admit I had a hard time connecting with the characters while reading the first book but this changed some over the second book. Overall I was able to overlook it because I liked the story so much. I think the magic is interesting although I think I am spoiled a bit by Sanderson and it felt a little too simple. 

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