The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

The Powder Mage series, by Brian McClellan—highly recommended



I recently finished the first two books in the Powder Mage series, by Brian McClellan, and I enjoyed them very much. I like fantasy, but many of the most popular fantasy series don't grab me. This one, though, worked very well.

The books are written simply and engagingly—I'm not fond of the overwrought style common in some fantasy books—and the characters are complex enough to be interesting but still appealing. The series is also set in an industrial revolution, an environment that I personally find more interesting than the usual medieval society. I much enjoyed reading the books, so I thought I'd pass along the tip.

If you want a sense of the kind of fantasy series I like, past and recent, the ones that most stand out are Roger Zelazny's Amber series and Lev Grossman's Magicians series. I don't much care for Feist and Sanderson, and while I read the first couple of books in Martin's Game of Thrones series, I liked these books a lot better. [UPDATE: A comment reminds me that I should add Ben Aaronovich's Peter Grant / Midnight Riot / Rivers of London series.] I also much enjoy Naomi Novik's Temeraire series, though that's more alternate universe historical fiction with one unreal twist (Horatio Hornblower, with dragons) than outright fantasy. Also, Novik's writing is much more self-consciously period than McClellan's more straightforward, modern prose; I enjoyed both series, but I wanted to point out the difference for those who care about such things.