Author Exploration: Brian McClellan

Hi guys, I hope you are all well. It’s been a while since I posted anything other than a review so today I thought I’d share an author exploration post. I’m sorry my schedule has changed this year and I’ve been posting less – I started working 30 hours a week at the start of the year and I’ve just found posting once a week to be more manageable. Anyway, back to the post, today I’m doing an author exploration post on one of my favourite authors, Brian McClellen. If you haven’t seen my previous exploration posts, then I basically break down what the author has published, some brief thoughts of them and talk a little bit about the author too. Let’s get started.


Brian McClellan is an American epic fantasy writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He majored English with a focus on creative writing at Brigham Young University and attended writing classes taught by fellow American author, Brandon Sanderson. He has two completed series released, one short story series and 14 short stories, 13 of which is set in the Powder Mage world. His first book, The Promise of Blood, was released in 2013 and was the first book in the Powder Mage trilogy, a flintlock epic fantasy series.


The Powder Mage trilogy
    • Promise of Blood (2013) ★★
    • The Crimson Campaign (2014) ★★
    • The Autumn Republic (2015) ★★
The Powder Mage trilogy is a flintlock epic fantasy that follows multiple character perspectives, focusing on Field Marshal Tamas, his son Taniel and former police inspector Adamat. The world building is wonderfully done and the unique magic system is one of my favourite things about this trilogy. The magic system is divided into three parts – Knacked, Privileged and Powder Mages. Knacked are people with little to no magical power, instead they have abilities (for example one character never needs to sleep. The Privileged are powerful sorcerers. Powder mages metabolise gunpowder as the source of their power. They can ingest or snort gunpowder to enter a ‘Powder Trance’, which means they are stronger, faster and their senses are heightened. If you stay too long in said trance, they run the risk of going ‘Powder Blind’, which may lead to falling into a coma, losing the ability or even death. Gunpowder is also highly addictive, so mages must use it with some care


The Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy 
    • Sins of Empire (2017) ★★
    • Wrath of Empire (2018) ★★
    • Blood of Empire (2019) ★★
The Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy is a sequel series to the Powder Mage trilogy and takes place roughly ten years after the first set of three books. These books follow multiple perspectives, like it’s predecessor, but these books focuses on different characters. Once again the world-building and magic system are wonderfully done and it was so good to be back with the familiar characters. You can see in these books that McClellan has really grown as a writer and I loved this trilogy even more than it’s predecessor. I would love to see more of this world and characters. I would definitely recommend reading the Powder Mage trilogy first, otherwise you’ll be spoiled for it. 


Valkyrie collection series
    • Uncanny Collateral (2019) ★★
    • Blood Tally (2020) unread
The Valkyrie collection currently consists of two short stories, following a reaper called Alek Fitz. These novellas are urban fantasy and are each under 200 pages long. I have read the first novella but haven’t read the second. While I enjoyed the first, I didn’t love it as much I love McClellan’s other books. It’s an entertaining, fast-paced novella with an interesting world and great character development. 


The Glass Immortals series
    • In the Shadow of Lightning (2022 Tor books) unread


Powder Mage world novellas
    • Hope’s End (2013) unread
    • The Girl of Hrusch Avenue (2013) unread
    • Forsworn (2014) ★★
    • The Face in the Window (2014) unread
    • Servant of the Crown (2014) ★★
    • Murder at the Kinnen Hotel (2014) ★★
    • Return to Honor (2015) unread
    • Green-eyed Vipers (2015) unread 
    • Ghosts of the Tristan Basin (2016) ★★
    • The Mad Lancers (2017) ★★
    • Siege of Tilpur (2017) ★★
    • War Cry (2018) ★★★.5
Of the 14 short stories McClellan has written, so far I’ve read and enjoyed 7 of them. Most of them are set within the Powder Mage world and I love that this means we get to see more of this world and characters. The only thing I would say about War Cry is that I think I would have preferred it to be a longer book – it just felt like there was so much more to it. My favourite novellas so far would probably be The Mad Lancer and Ghosts of the Tristan Basin. 


That’s it for today. I cannot wait for the release of In the Shadow of Lightning, the first book in his new series. We’ve still got a little while to wait though since it’s not coming till next year. Writing this post has actually made me want to reread the two trilogies, so I may be doing that soon. Have you guys read any of these books? What did you think? Let’s chat in the comments. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.






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