It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Crimson Campaign is a marvelous sequel that’s better than the first book in every aspect. The revolution that Tamas started in the Promise of Blood has turned into an all-out war with the Kez and with it, the plot is so much more engaging than before. Still told from the same 4 main POV, Tamas & Taniel are right in the middle of the war while Adamat and the side POV, Nila deal with the politics and the familial theme of the book.
I’ll keep my opinion on all the POV’s as brief as possible, the highest chance is that Taniel or Tamas story line will the one you love the most when you get to this and although in my opinion Taniel’s POV is hands down the best part of the book by far, this doesn’t mean that the other POV’s suck in any way. Adamat’s story started really slow with mundane politics which I thought were unnecessary but soon it sprawled into a fast paced and compelling tale of how much a man will go to for their family and friends.
“There is nothing that will make a man more desperate and more capable of violence than endangering his family.”
Every POV is heavily packed with actions that never fail to capture my attention, complete with strategic military warfare, explosive magic combats and the fact that there’s always something going on with each page and almost each chapter ended with a cliffhanger made this book so hard to put down. Plus, Brian’s simple prose that made the story flow fluidly, Crimson Campaign is an excellent page turner.
All of them are really well written and structured with tons of characters developments and evolution towards all main and side characters. Taniel and Ka-poel has always been my favorite characters of the series since the first book but in this book, I found another addition to that list. There’s a fantastic unexpected development to Bo, Taniel’s best friend. His character received so much depth and I love everything that Bo does in this book, that’s all I’ll say on this matter since I don’t want to spoil you on what great things are waiting for you.
“He had an honest face, though Adamat found that honest faces were almost always deceptive.”
Despite how fast paced and action packed this book is, it actually stopped me from reading sometimes. Why? It’s because of Mihali, the chef from the first book. Seriously, every time he appears he always cooked all this delicious foods that made me fucking hungry. I’m pretty sure Brian intentionally did this to make sure his readers take a break from his book once in a while, someone even made one of the food mentioned in the book! "cook me outside my room how bow dat?"
Picture: Mihali’s soup by Kristina Bunnel
After all these fantasticimprovements, what is it then that made me stop from giving it a full 5 stars rating?
-The magic systems. Don’t get me wrong, the magic combats and actions are all amazing and the requirement to use them has been properly explained. However, there seemed to be no clear limitations to their power ever since the first book. Powder Mage for example, the book said that the usage of too much powder could make you go ‘Powder Blind’ or dead but our main characters, pretty much everyone inhaled those powders like eating pringles. Sure there’s some side effect once in a while but I wish there’s a CLEAR limitation to how many times they can actually inhale those powders. The Privileged is even more insane, they just have to wear their arcane gloves and voila, they could cast thunder, flame, wind, tore off human bodies without any limit other than range. This has been bothering me a bit since the first book but I thought it will be explained more in the sequel and I’m a bit disappointed on this aspect.
-The despicable characters are all female. Ka-poel is amazing, she’s one of my favorite characters in the book but the thing is she doesn’t have any line because she’s a mute and the other female characters are almost all either forgettable or highly obnoxious that I just want them to die already. The female generals in this book seemed to be there for the purpose of being hated which I must say, Brian succeeded wonderfully. I must mention that just because a character is despicable, it doesn’t mean they’re poorly written at all, it’s actually the other way. It’s only when the character is really well written that I could love/hate them, the thing is there’s absolutely no reason why all the abhorrent and despicable characters have to be all female ever since the first book, I really have no idea why or what’s the reason behind the author’s decision on this part and I can’t help but be bothered a bit on this aspect.
Again, both of these are minor issues for me and it doesn’t take my overall enjoyment of the book. Crimson Campaign is an amazing sequel that’s better in every aspect compared to the first book and I had a blast reading through it. This book gave me a new appreciation for flintlock fantasy, I never thought I’ll enjoy reading it this much compared to my usual epic/grimdark fantasy books but I did and I can’t wait continue straight into the last book of the trilogy, The Autumn Republic after posting this review.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who’s looking to start flintlock fantasy or any adult fantasy fans in general.