Title: The Crimson Campaign
Author: Brian McClellan
Publisher: May 2014, Orbit Books
Blurb: The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions.
Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing army. Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.
**minor spoiler that might not be a spoiler because I didn’t give a name, but a major detail, listed below**
Ho-ly shit, my friends.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop beating myself up for taking so long to finally get into this series, because it is just too good. I started the sequel before I left on vacation and was lucky enough to grab the third book before I left, too, thinking that I could knock out both while I was out of town. Of course, what actually happened was I didn’t read a wink until the drive home and my boyfriend was the KING of boyfriends when he offered to drive the entire time so I could spend the afternoon reading.
Damn the early sunsets, because I was only able to read the first two chapters of The Autumn Republic before I was straining my eyes too hard trying to read in literal darkness. But after how The Crimson Campaign ended, I had to know what was going to happen next and I just can’t get enough, honestly, because the characters and the story are just too damn good.
But then, of course, my favorite character was also killed.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, honestly, because I’m just so invested in every POV we get to see. I have a soft spot for Tamas and the more I learn about him, the more he grows on me. Taniel annoyed me a little bit in the first book, but really grew on me in this one (but I think that might be Ka-Poel’s influence, too). And Inspector Adamat, I’ll root for until my dying breath. Then you have Bo, who I can’t help but root for and have definitely fallen under his charm; Mihali, who how can you not adore because of his mannerisms and how he reminds me of Santa (what? I can’t help it); Sol Smith, who I’d love to learn more about; Nila, who also has annoyed me sometimes, but I can’t help but be in her corner, too; and you can’t forget about Ka-Poel, who I just want an entire book about just her, okay!?
So, yeah, lots of favorites, lots of characters that make this series irresistible and the hours stuck cramped in a car feel like nothing as you’re so invested in what happens next.
But, there is a war going on, and one of those listed up there, doesn’t make it. And, of course, it was the character who I distinctly remember, I was reading, thinking, As long as X doesn’t die, we’ll be totally okay.
I’m still not over it.
Regardless of the state of my heart, The Crimson Campaign is a fantastic middle book, which is never an easy feat to pull off. It amped up the tension from the first book and continued to build off such a great starting block and stood on its own as a story, no question. It continued to develop the depth and magnitude of such a great world and leaves you itching to find out what happens next. Which, I’m sorry to say, is why I’m cutting off this review here, instead of diving further into my love for these characters, my investment in the war I’m witnessing and my awe at the worldbuilding I’m lost within.
Because The Autumn Republic *is* sitting right beside me, at this very moment…