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'Crimson Campaign,' second book of Powder Mage trilogy, has magic, action and war strategy
The Crimson Campaign
: "The Crimson Campaign," the second book in the Powder Mage Trilogy by BYU graduate Brian McClellan. - photo by Hachette Book Group

"THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN: Book 2 of the Powder Mage Trilogy," by Brian McClellan, Orbit Books, $26, 593 pages (f)

"The Crimson Campaign" brings back the humans and supernatural creatures called Powder Mages who fight alongside the army from the first book in Brian McClellan's Powder Mage Trilogy, "The Promise of Blood." The sequel is an imaginative story with plenty of magic, thrilling action and brilliant war strategy.

"The Crimson Campaign" begins with Powder Mage Taniel recovering from the gruesome battle against Kez soldiers and Kresimir the God. Taniel's country, Adros, under the command of this father, Field Marshal Tamas, who is also a Powder Mage, is still fighting against Kez to maintain its sovereignty and not be annexed by Kez.

Tamas decides to surprise the Kez army by moving his elite troops through underground catacombs while his generals oversee the remainder of the army in the battlefield on the Southern border. One of his generals is a traitor and foils the plan by informing the Kez, forcing Tamas’ troops to return home by marching north through Kez territory. Everyone assumes Tamas is dead.

As the war rages, the military coup led by Tamas in the first book has now prompted the nobility and other powerful businessmen in Adros to vie for the prime minister position. Adros’ union leader Ricard Tumblar is one of the candidates and knows his chances of winning would improve with the hero Taniel at his side. Tumblar’s secretary finds Taniel and tells him about the army’s unsuccessful fight at the Southern border, and of his father’s elite troops’ unknown whereabouts, and convinces him to rejoin the Adros battle.

In the meantime, Adros’ capital city, Adropest, becomes the stage for a fight between Powder Mages. Inspector Adamat negotiates the release of a Powder Mage from the toppled royal cabal to help him find his family that was captured by Lord Vetas and is being guarded by Vetas’ own Powder Mage.

At the war front, Taniel realizes his father’s soldiers are losing ground to the Kez army because, mysteriously, whenever the soldiers are about to defeat them, Tamas’ generals order retreat. Mihali, Kresimir’s brother, helps free Taniel when Taniel is court martialed as he confronts the generals about the retreat orders.

As other political intrigues leave Adros with few, if any, allies, Taniel will need more than his own powers to help Tamas' army win the war, as well as to unravel the corruption at the top ranks of the army and nobility.

There is no foul language, but there are descriptions of war violence as well as sexual innuendo without any graphic details. The author assumes readers have read the first book and doesn't give much review.

Denise Russell majored in psychology at the University of New Hampshire. She is an entrepreneur, blogs about quilting and crafts at, and has three boys and a grandson. Her email is