The trio of Tamas, Tamiel and Adamat are back in this thrilling second installment of the Powder Mage series, all entrenched in conflict from the start. Family man and retired police inspector Adamat will garner the most sympathy as he hunts for his captured wife, but Tamiel’s struggle to overcome the trauma he witnessed depicts a post-war reality that feels surprisingly realistic. The way McClellan draws out the very human failings of these characters while keeping them likable remains the most compelling thing about this series, though fans of gunpowder fantasy will appreciate the detailed tactical battles.

Adamat is on the hunt again, this time for his wife, who has been kidnapped by the vengeful Lord Vetas. Meanwhile ambitious field marshal Tamas finds himself losing to the previously invaded Kez. Tamiel, assuming his father Tamas missing or dead, must reluctantly rely on his powerful powder mage abilities to fight an advancing army set on revenge. (ORBIT, Feb., 608 pp., $23.99)

Reviewed by: 
Lindsey Galloway Senway