An interview with Brian McClellan

Bee wrangler, homemade jam enthusiast and author of the widely successful flintlock fantasy series, The Powder Mage Trilogy; Brian McClellan has kindly taken the time to speak with Fantasy Book Review for the sites How Stories Connect Us section.

A big thanks to Brian for answering our questions today as I suspect he must be very busy with preparations for the soon to be released final installment of the Powder Mage Trilogy, The Autumn Republic, on the 10th Feb 2015. If you wish to read my review of The Autumn Republic or the other books in the trilogy, click the links below.

Promise of Blood
Recommended, you can almost smell the gunpowder and hear the guillotine falling.

The Crimson Campaign
Another excellent instalment in the trilogy, one that will keep you glued to the pages, pawing for the final book and praying that more will come soon.

The Autumn Republic
The shot is fired and the smoke clears, many stand and scores have fallen, as Gods, Kings and rebellion alter the fate of the land.

I have been a big fan of Brian’s for several years now, there is a quality and commitment to style in Brian’s writing I have enjoyed from the moment I picked up Promise of Blood and which has remained strong in all his subsequent stories. If you haven't read Brian’s work as yet, try now, I cannot see how you will be disappointed.

Brian also has written several Power Mage short stories and having read a few of them myself I would highly recommend one and all.

All of Brian’s titles are available direct from his website, or from the usual online sources.

How Stories Connect Us

Q: Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?

A: The Princess Bride. It’s just such a fun, fantastic book. Definitely on my top ten list of all time and probably the only book where the movie version is also on my top ten list. If you have only seen the movie or only read the book, you need to immediately stop reading this interview and go read/watch Princess Bride.

Q: Which book or series do you read that makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?

A: The Count of Monte Cristo. I actually have very definite memories of the first time I read the unabridged version. I was maybe in fifth or sixth grade, and it took me over a week straight of doing nothing but reading (trying to really grasp what was going on because, come on, I was twelve). I remember transitioning all over the house from the floor of my room to my parents’ bed to the dining room to the trampoline outside.

Q: Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?

A: Any book that really grips me has the potential to do that. When I get really into the action my whole body will start to shake and I’ll sweat and do that thing where I bounce my leg up and down really hard, bothering anyone who may be sitting near me. Honestly, it’s always best if I read in the privacy of my own home.

The last book to do that to me was Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs.

Q: Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters into? And would you want them to thrive and integrate, or would you want them to burn it all down?

A: To be totally honest, I have a hard time doing that. It’s fun, as a fan, to come up with inter-universe scenarios like who would win or could this character survive and things like that. But it’s different for a creator because things become so much more personal. Of course I’m going to try to figure out how my characters would win/succeed. And most of my characters are much more the “thrive and integrate” types than they are the “burn it all down.” Though I think Field Marshal Tamas would just up and murder everyone he met in Westeros.

Q: Is there a particular author that leaves you thinking: “One day I would like to be able to write just like that?”

A: I’m more of a “one day I’d like to be as successful as him/her.” On the artistic front, I’m fairly self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses (I am less than poetic, but I write very fun stories) and I’m perfectly happy with where I am. I still work to improve both my storytelling abilities and the artistry of my writing but I don’t really covet anyone’s talent.

Then again, ask me this question immediately after I’ve finished a really good book and you may get a totally different answer.

If you want to find out more about Brain and his books you can visit his site at

Our Brian McClellan reviews

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

Field Marshal Tamas has finally returned to Adopest, only to find the capital in the hands of a foreign power. With his son Taniel presumed dead, Tamas must gather his beleaguered forces and formulate a plan to defeat the Kez - no easy task when you're outnumbered and can't tell friend from foe. The army is divided... With their enemy bearing down on them, the Adran command is in disarray. Someone, it seems, is selling secrets to the Kez. Inspector Adamat is determined to flush out the traitor, but as the conspiracy unravels, he will learn a horrifying truth. And all hope rests with one man... Taniel Two-Shot, the powder mage who shot a god in the eye, is on the run. He possesses the sole means of defeating the Kez, but to do so he must evade treachery at every turn. If he fails, Adro will fall.

"Make sure you check out the Powder Mage Trilogy, if you haven’t already, as it’s one of the top 10 books to come out this decade."

Read our review

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

The alchemy of gunpowder fused with the magic of sorcery. In a time of upheaval, resurgence and corrupted Royalty Privileged, one-man’s love for his lost wife and his country burns and fuels a new order where all can be treated equally. Sometimes to build new you must burn the old. Legends long hidden may rue the day when Old Gods return and Field Marshal Tamas’s coup against a failing, rotten and self-indulgent royalty balances on a knife edge. Tamas must rely on his friends and alienated son Taniel if his people and the Nine Nations are to survive.

"The use of gunpowder, the abilities the Powder Mage’s have, and the way that they conflict with other magic users, makes this story even more captivating. The overall concept of magic in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage world is one that I cannot wait to return to, hopefully again and again. Add to that the overarching plot that has been set up, and my own tendency towards disliking monarchies, and Promise of Blood is a book I can easily recommend to anyone."

Read our review

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

When Gods walk the earth and war rages, Tamas suffers his greatest defeat at the hands of Kez. Beaten, but not broken Tamas must fight his way back to Adro and his son. Taniel awakens from his coma only to hear of his fathers presumed death, traveling to the war front, many things are not as they appear. A traitor hides within the Army's high command and Taniel will stop at nothing to find out who it is. The hunt is on, Adamat will call in all favors and do everything that it takes to rescue his wife and son from Lord Vetus. Dark deeds and bargains abound for the man with a clear purpose.

"Another excellent instalment in the trilogy, one that will keep you glued to the pages, pawing for the final book and praying for more will come soon."

Read our review

War Cry by Brian McClellan

Teado is a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset trained to win wars. His platoon has been stationed in the Bavares high plains for years, stranded. As they ration supplies and scan the airwaves for news, any news, their numbers dwindle. He's not sure how much time they have left. Desperate and starving, armed with aging, faulting equipment, the team jumps at the chance for a risky resupply mission, even if it means not all of them might come. What they discover could change the course of the war.

"War Cry might herald a new universe for McClellan to play in – and I certainly hope that it does – but it might also be a one-off that we never hear from again. Regardless, War Cry is crackling with McClellan’s trademark craft and captivating prose, a high-watermark of short fantasy literature."

Read our review

Sins of Empire by Brian McClellan

A world on the cusp of a new age… The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place - a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires. Sedition is a dangerous word… The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall's present. The past haunts us all… As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.

"Sins of Empire would make a great jumping on spot for anyone who hasn’t read Brian McClellan’s books before. Similarly, it’s a great continuation of the books that have come before, for us old-hands. Regardless of whether you’ve read Brian McClellan before, Sins of Empire crackles with excitement and adventure on every page, with characters you’ll fall in love, or hate, in equal measure."

Read our review

Uncanny Collateral by Brian McClellan

Alek Fitz is a reaper, a collection agent who works for the supernatural elements of the world, tracking down debtors and solving problems for clients as diverse as the Lords of Hell, vampires, Haitian loa, and goblins. He’s even worked for the Tooth Fairy on occasion. Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, Alek is the best in the game. As a literal slave to his job, he doesn’t have a choice.

"Uncanny Collateral is a fun, quick read that reminds me of a summer action flick. It’s worth checking out for those who love urban fantasy or for those who are looking for a fantasy private eye story. Also, Maggie is pretty awesome and you should meet her."

Read our review