The Autumn Republic is the best book in the Powder Mage trilogy for me, hands down. All pacing issues are gone, every character feels like they matter, and there’s a satisfying ending to every characters story arc. Not all of them get the ending you’d expect either, but it’s a fitting ending for them and it was nice to see the author take risks and actually go there with a lot of the stuff in this entry of the series. Of course, you’ll need to have read the first two books for this one to make any sense: it once again takes place directly after events in The Crimson Campaign, but man is this one a roller coaster I couldn’t get off of, start to finish.
This book cements the Powder Mage universe as one of the best fantasy universes out there for me. I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling it the first book. Second one, it still grabbed me enough to read on, but not there yet. Third? I can’t wait to read the next series of books and all of the novellas, just such a fantastic job with this book and a worthy conclusion to the saga for these characters.
Read it if you’d read the first two books, you won’t regret it!
I usually put the book synopses after my brief review, but the one for this book holds spoilers to things in The Crimson Campaign, so I’m just going to launch into the review from this point on. Here we go!
The plot is really good in this installment, doesn’t have nearly as much pacing issues as I found in the last two books. I think that’s because we’re in the end game here, and every character’s plots get interwoven into the final stretch of the narrative. Nila, Adamat, and Bo are my favorite set of characters overall in the series, but their plots in this range from empowering to heartbreaking and it’s all just such good writing. Tamas’ plot, and story arc finish in this book, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting for the character, it makes total sense for it to have happened and for me it was the most satisfying out of all of the story arcs.
The least satisfying for me was Taniel’s sadly. He branches off from the main group early on, and it just seems like there wasn’t enough time to give him a better plot than he had in this book. I like his scenes with Vlora, and she got fleshed out way more in this book, but what they did to Ka-Poel really made Taniel’s plot less enjoyable, and I’ll leave it at that to not avoid spoilers.
Another part of the plot that came to a conclusion, was having to do with the gods of the world. It didn’t feel rushed to me for the most part, but one character that was in the series throughout is revealed to be something they weren’t before and it just felt off to me. Throughout the series, McClellan has done a really good job of leaving clues for us for other plot threads, so we could figure it out so the lack of such for this specific character just seemed a bit off to me. If we had seen more of them, or if it had made more sense why the reveal wound up to be them it would have worked far better than it did. It didn’t really hinder the reading experience for me, but I could see it being an issue for someone else so figured I’d bring it up.
Other than that, flawless execution of the story. The first two books led up to the third so well, and this series shines because of it. You do have to read all of the books to get the full effect of the plotting though, since this is more a continued story over three books than it is episodic books with self-contained plots that have overarching story in it. Since all 3 books are out, I’d highly recommend reading all 3 consecutively instead of reading something in-between any of the trilogy to get the full effect of the narrative.
Every character that was introduced in Promise of Blood has a satisfying conclusion to their story, as stated above. Not much development is given to them per say, but they’re put in situations where they have to act differently than they would, and their morals are pushed to the brink because of it. You really feel for all of them honestly, but still stand outs for me are Nila, Adamat, and Bo. They all were always my favorites since book 1, and that never changed. I’d love to read a spin off book about Nila and Bo, and see where their stories further lead, but I also like where they left us with their plots at the same time.
Tamas’ full story comes to fruition here, and in this book I realized that if you don’t like him, it’s fine. We as the reader, were never supposed to like him. If we did, that’s fine, but this story was always meant to tell us about a man driven by grief and revenge, and the destructive path being led by those emotions ultimately leads us. It was really well executed, and as stated above, although I wasn’t expecting Tamas’ story to end the way it did, when it happened I was like “Yes, this totally makes sense” and I’m so happy McClellan didn’t shy away from the darker stuff in this series, because it really shines because of the darker subject brought up here.
Taniel doesn’t super change throughout the series. I enjoy his character, but other than circumstances pushing him forward, he doesn’t feel like he grows at all. He gets what he wants in the end, but I just wish he would have gotten a tad more growth than he did, and we got to see his and Tamas’ relationship develop more because of his growth. What we got was serviceable, just wish we got a bit more.
Adamat, poor Adamat! His story along with Nila’s shows what happens when people are thrown into something because of someone else’s desires. Adamat never wanted to be any part of this, but Tamas dragged him into it and that anger towards the man really shines through in this book. He’s my favorite main point of view character for sure, really enjoyed his investigations, his scenes with Ricard, and his family. The investigations in this book are the most gripping to me, and I think The autumn republic is the best use of his character for sure.
We’re back in familiar territory here, where the story began. No real ground broken here, nothing really expanded on. Just back to the French Revolution setting of the book. But I like that where a series starts, it ends sort of thing so being in familiar settings the entire book totally worked for me. It may not for others, but for me seeing the inner workings of the city after everything that had happened was a lot of fun and added to what this book series ultimately was about: One man, and how his choices effected a world, for better or for worse.
The pacing is way better in this book. The writing is still raw and gritty, but more polished so it just feels more raw, if that makes sense. I think McClellan’s dialogue writing has definitely gotten better in this book, felt way more realistic than in the past two. Other than that, pretty much the same as the prior two books.
This review is shorter because honestly, I can’t say much more about this series than I already have in the prior two reviews. If you’d read Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign and enjoyed them both enough to get to The autumn republic, you’ll want to read this book. How much you like it depends on how much you liked the other two since this series is purely linear in its story telling, and the full story spans all three books. For me, I enjoyed this book especially and it fixed most of the problems I had with the series as a whole. Just was a really good ride start to finish and the slow burn of the first two books was worth it.
I’d highly recommend The Powder Mage trilogy. Only reason I’m not starting the next series in the Powder Mage universe is because the third one isn’t out yet (by the posting of this review, the third book will be released). But as soon as it is I plan to buy all 3 and read.
Pick up this series if you like a lot of action, interesting plots and world building, and really good political intrigue. You won’t regret it!