Title: The Autumn Republic
Author: Brian McLellan
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group Limited
Publication Date: 2nd February 2015
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Autumn Republic is the extraordinary finale to one of the most talked about epic fantasy series in recent years. In a world where magic and technology are intertwined, who could stand against mages who control gunpowder and bullets?
It hurts my heart to give this book a three, as the rest of the series has been a consistent five stars! This book is the third in a series, which up until this point I have absolutely adored. Promise of Blood, the first book, is absolutely incredible and has been the book I refer to all fantasy fans looking for something new. However, I was deeply disappointed with this conclusion.
First up, seeing as I haven’t spoken about the books at all, I’ll give a quick recap of the series. We first meet the main character, Grand Marshall Tamas, in the middle of a coup, as he overthrows his king to install a republic. The tagline for Promise of Blood is fabulously eerie – ‘The age of kings is dead – and I have killed it.’ A massive war erupts and Tamas must find a way to establish a lasting peace in Adro, while fighting the Kez, a people who detest powder mages and who killed Tamas’ wife. The books mostly look at the turmoil in Adro and the front lines of the war with the Kez.
What drew me to the series most though was the incredibly different magic of the powder mages. McLellan has done an awesome job in marrying gunpowder technology to magic. Certain people have an affinity with gunpowder and they can use it as a drug to heighten their senses – like any drug, it can cause addiction, as it seems to have done in Tamas’ son, Taniel. There is also a more traditional form of magic, where magicians called Privileged manipulate the ‘Else’ or the elements. The power appears to corrupt them, resulting in very selfish, very powerful figures. Ancient gods also play a part in the war which results from Tamas’ actions. Knacked can sense other magic and often have an unusual strength – my favourite is Olem, Tamas’ bodyguard, who doesn’t need any sleep.
The characters are brilliant as well – Taniel, who has been fighting a war in a colonial backwater, Vlora, his ex-fiancee and a brilliant powder mage whom Tamas picked off the street as a child, Adamat, a detective trying to keep his family safe, Bo, a Privileged magician and the Taniel’s childhood friend and Ka-Poel, a mute ‘savage’ with mysterious powers incredibly loyal to Taniel. There are too many more to list! I loved the interactions between the characters and their development through the series.
My problem with this last book was that a lot of these characters’ storylines were left unresolved, particularly that of Ka-Poel. I was really disappointed that we didn’t learn more about her magic, other than the fact that she was more powerful than anyone could imagine….. Another character, Nila, discovered she possessed Privileged powers in the second book, but for some reason her powers were different (she didn’t need to use gloves to touch the ‘Else’, like other Privileged) – again, there was no explanation to compensate and it just made me super annoyed!
While I enjoyed the fast pace of the other two books, the story constantly propelling me along, this third book lacked that sense of propulsion. It wasn’t as thrilling. I also found myself confused quite a bit, particularly when an allied leader was mistakenly called the Kez king, not once but twice!
Anyone who has read the first two books and loved them, as I did, should still read this book, but be warned that it raises more questions than it answers! I admit that I was disappointed that a series that started with such a bang didn’t go out in the same way. Still, I love the world-building that has gone on in this series and the magic system McLellan has created – his novels and novellas are definitely worth a read, particularly the first one! I loved the series as a whole, but was disappointed by the last book.