Introduction to Flintlock Fantasy – The Powder Mage Trilogy


Hi, I’m Craig. If you have ever been to Galaxy Books in Sydney you might already know me. If not, I’m the manager of one of Australia’s largest (some say best) Science Fiction and Fantasy book stores. I am super passionate about great writing and I have been invited by The Society to be able to talk to you about news and reviews in books ongoing.

One thing you will you need to know about me is that, in genre writing especially, I hold the view that you can have whatever ideas you like so long as you write the BEEP out of it. Polish it until it shines bright and you can see the world reflected in it. A resplendent plethora of great ideas are worthless without good writing, but good writing can make a so so idea shine.

Which is why I want to start with something I love – The Powder Mage Trilogy.

It was love at first for me with this series. The ideas, the world, the writing, the story and ALL the characters, good and bad. There’s just so much to like. I love the Idea that the author Brian McClellan, mid some civil war re-enactment and biting the top off a paper cartridge of black powder, got more than a taste in his mouth. The bitter grit sizzled against his tongue like rabid sherbet, and the taste haunted him, made him feel a little ill even, and then this whole world was born. (NOTE: I’m just guessing this happened – it has that real, gritty, experienced feel in the writing.)

This is for fans of Fantasy, Alternate History, Flintlock slash Black Powder Fantasy and Action slash Adventure stories. Set in a world with a feel of revolutionary France, rather than the often-used medieval England, is a refreshing change. This is a clever world that feels like two worlds meeting – the old mystical, magical world where God’s roamed, and the new world, of black powder and newspapers and navies and politics. Two estranged worlds, meeting and not getting along.

With flintlock fantasy, you don’t get much magic (although there are Mages
as you will have guessed from the title). Technology begins to take over and brings a whole new world of magic and possibilities through Mages that ingest or use black powder to gain powers and abilities.

There are also get consequences with ingesting too much. The bleeding nose. The powder blindness. I really liked that but that’s for you to discover. Consequence gives the magical aspect of the world a check, a balance – you can’t just draw on the [ether-other-source-force-etc], wielding fierce magic endlessly, without consequence.

With these characters you are interested in what happens to them, you feel for them. This is a magical quality that proves a great author. There’s so much Fantasy out there where they’re ticking all the boxes, (I call it writing by numbers) but I just don’t care when I don’t think of the characters as real. I have to believe to invest, more so I have to not even need to think about it. To be in and lost, that’s the magic.

I love the plot too and how it unfolds itself. The things that go right against the odds, the things that go wrong, regardless of how hard the characters try to prevent it. All-in-all this is great stuff. Splendid writing with new, clever and well-orchestrated ideas, just enough history and world-building to give background and depth and not so much to bore me or steal from the momentum and action.

The First (Powder Mage) Trilogy is finished (and its fantastic), which you can pickup now. Don’t let George R R Martin fool you, there are plenty of writers out there that can routinely turn in fantastic books. If you are looking to get the full set

Powder Mage Trilogy
1. Promise of Blood
2. The Crimson Campaign
3. The Autumn Republic

The next trilogy Gods of Blood and Power with the first book – Sins of Empire, is out this month (March 2017) and follows up the Powder Mage Trilogy. I’ve read an advance reader copy of it and it’s brilliant too!

Fans of Abercrombie (everyone should be!), Cook, Chris Evans, Flint, and Ringo will eat this up. Really, this is for anyone who just wants a good read.

Copies for review were provided by Galaxy Books Sydney’s best specialist Science Fiction and Fantasy store. If you are having trouble finding a copy of the Powder Mage Trilogy books in Sydney head into their store found upstairs inside Abbey’s Bookshop OR if you are outside of Sydney their online book shop