The Autumn Republic


By Brian McClellan

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“Just plain awesome” — Brandon Sanderson

Tamas, Taniel, and Adamat have been betrayed and Adro now lies in the hands of a foreign invader. But it remains the duty of the powder mages to defend their homeland unto death in the explosive conclusion the Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy.

The capital has fallen. . .

Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided. . .

With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one. . .

And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed. . .

The Autumn Republic is the epic conclusion that began with Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.


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Table of Contents

A Preview of Hope & Red

A Preview of Battlemage

Orbit Newsletter

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The capital has fallen…

Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…

With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…

And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…


Field Marshal Tamas stood in the ruins of the Kresim Cathedral in Adopest.

What had once been a magnificent building with golden spires that rose majestically above the surrounding buildings was now a pile of rubble being picked over by a small army of stonemasons in search of usable marble and limestone, and birds that had built their nests in those spires now wheeled aimlessly overhead as Tamas inspected the ruin by the light of the rising sun.

The destruction had been wrought by Privileged elemental sorcery. Granite keystones had been cut apart with an almost casual indifference, and entire sections of the cathedral were melted away with fire hotter than the center of any forge. The sight turned Tamas's stomach.

"Looks worse from far off," Olem said. He stood beside Tamas, hand resting on the butt of his pistol beneath his greatcoat, eyes scanning the streets for signs of Brudanian patrols. He spoke around the cigarette clenched between his lips. "This must have been the column of smoke our scouts saw. The rest of the city seems intact."

Tamas scowled at his bodyguard. "This cathedral was three hundred years old. It took sixty years to build. I refuse to be relieved that the damned Brudanians invaded Adopest just to destroy the cathedral."

"They had the chance to level the whole city. They didn't. I call that lucky, sir."

Olem was right, of course. They had ridden hard for two weeks, dangerously far ahead of the Seventh and Ninth brigades and their new Deliv allies, in order to determine the fate of the city. Tamas had been relieved to see Adopest still standing.

But now it lay in the hands of a Brudanian army and Tamas was forced to sneak about in his own city. There were no words to describe the anger he felt.

He pushed down that rage, trying to get control of himself. They'd arrived on the outskirts of the city only a few hours ago, sneaking in under cover of darkness. He had to get organized, to find his allies, scout his enemies, and find out how an entire city could fall into Brudanian hands with no sign of a fight. Pit, Brudania was eight hundred miles away!

Had another one of his council betrayed him?

"Sir," Vlora said, drawing Tamas's attention to the south. She stood above them on the remains of a buttress, watching the Ad River and the old quarter of the city beyond it. Like Tamas and Olem, she wore a greatcoat to conceal her Adran uniform, and her dark hair was tucked beneath a tricorne hat. "A Brudanian patrol. There's a Privileged with them."

Tamas eyed the rubble and considered the lay of the street to their south, formulating a plan to ambush the Brudanian patrol. He forced himself to stop that line of thought. He couldn't risk any open conflict. Not without more men. He'd only brought Vlora and Olem ahead of the army and while they might be able to cut through a single Brudanian patrol, any kind of firefight would bring more running.

"We need soldiers," Tamas said.

Olem ashed his cigarette on the ruins of the cathedral altar. "I can try to find Sergeant Oldrich. He's got fifteen of my Riflejacks with him."

"That would be a start," Tamas said.

"I think we should make contact with Ricard," Vlora said. "Find out what happened to the city. He'll have men that we can use."

Tamas acknowledged the advice with a nod. "In good time. Pit. I should have brought the whole powder cabal with me. I want more men before we go see Ricard." I don't know if he's turned on us. Tamas had left Taniel's unconscious body in Ricard's care. If someone had harmed his boy, Tamas would…

He swallowed bile and tried to gain control of his pounding heart.

"Sabon's trainees?" Olem asked.

Before Sabon's death he had been tasked with setting up a school for powder mages just north of the city. Early reports were that he had over twenty men and women with some talent and that he was already teaching them how to shoot and fight and control their powers.

They'd had only a few months of training. It would have to be good enough.

"The trainees," Tamas agreed. "At the very least we can get Telavere before we go to Ricard."

They headed across the Ad River in the cool dawn as the streets began to fill with people. Tamas noted that Brudanian patrols, while they were frequent and the street guards plentiful, seemed to leave the citizens unmolested. No one questioned him or his companions as they passed through the old city's western gates or as they left the city once again to reach the suburban northland.

Tamas saw Brudanian ships in the harbor along the river and their tall masts out in the bay to the south. The mountain-crossing canal that Ricard's union had been building must have been a success, he noted wryly. It was the only way oceangoing vessels of that size could reach the Adsea.

Tamas lost track of the number of destroyed churches and monasteries. It seemed as if every other city block had a pile of rubble where a church had once been. He couldn't help but wonder what had happened to the priests and priestesses that staffed them and why they in particular had been targeted by the Brudanian Privileged.

It was something he'd have to ask Ricard.

Their journey took them an hour north of the city by foot, where the school stood on the bank of the Ad River. It was an old brick building, a decommissioned clothing factory with a field off to one side that had been turned into a firing range. As they came off the road, Vlora grasped Tamas's arm. He sensed panic in her touch.

Tamas felt his chest tighten.

The windows of the dormitory above the school were shuttered, and the main door hung off its hinges. A wooden placard, emblazoned with the silver powder keg of a powder mage, had been knocked from its place above the door and lay broken in the mud. The grounds around the school and the firing range beside it were quiet and abandoned, the grass overgrown.

"Vlora," Tamas said, "take the south side by the river. Olem, swing around to the north."

The two moved off with a "yessir" and no further questions. Vlora removed her hat and crept through the tall grass, while Olem continued up the street past the school, sauntering casually, before cutting across the firing range to approach the school from uphill.

Tamas waited for them to be in position before he continued cautiously down the path to the school. He opened his third eye to look into the Else, searching for signs of sorcery, but it revealed nothing about the contents of the building. If anyone lay waiting inside, they weren't Privileged or Knacked.

Nor could he sense any powder mages, for that matter. Why was the school empty? Telavere had been left in charge. She was a powder mage of little raw power but excellent technical skill, a perfect choice to teach the recruits. Could she have taken them into hiding when the Brudanians arrived? Had they been attacked?

Tamas drew his pistols as he neared the school, pausing only to sprinkle black powder on his tongue. A powder trance gripped his body, his eyesight, hearing, and smell sharpening and the pain of the ride ebbing away behind a curtain of strength.

A low sound filled his ears, almost drowned out by the sound of the gentle flow of the Ad River. He couldn't quite place the sound, but he knew the smell that filled his nostrils. It smelled of iron and decay. Blood.

Tamas checked the front window of the school. The glare of the morning sun prevented him from piercing the darkness within. The low sound seemed a roar now in his trance-enhanced hearing, and the scent of death filled him with dread.

He kicked the front door off its hinges and dove in with both pistols ready. He froze in the entryway, eyes adjusting to the dim light.

His caution was unwarranted. The foyer was empty, and the silence stretched throughout the building—but for the low drone of what he now saw were thousands of flies. They buzzed and churned in the air, dancing against the windowpanes.

Tamas shoved both pistols into his belt so he could tie a handkerchief about his mouth and nose. Despite the flies and the smell, there were no bodies in the entryway, and the only sign of violence was the smear of rust on the floors and splatters on the wall. Men had been killed here, and the bodies dragged away.

He followed the trail of smeared blood from the entryway and proceeded deeper into the old factory building, one pistol held at the ready.

The factory floor, an immense room that had no doubt once been home to dozens of long tables where seamstresses worked at their sewing by the hundred, was empty now but for a dozen desks along one side. There were fewer flies here except for the ones hanging out around a half-dozen stains and rusty puddles where men had died.

The smears continued along the factory floor and out through a door in the back corner.

Tamas whirled at a sound, leveling his pistol, but it was only Vlora coming down the stairway from the dormitory above. He noted plenty of blood on the stairs as well.

"What did you find?" Tamas asked. His voice echoed eerily in the large room.

"Flies." Vlora spit on the floor. "Flies, and half the back wall of the school is missing. Plenty of scorch marks. Someone detonated at least two horns of powder up there." She swore under her breath, the only crack in her professional demeanor.

"What happened here?" Tamas asked.

"I don't know, sir."

"No bodies?"


Tamas gritted his teeth in frustration. Plenty of blood—that's what the flies were attracted to—and more than a little gore. Dozens of men had died in this building and not all that long ago.

"They dragged the bodies out the back," Olem said, his voice echoing in the large room as he stepped through a small doorway at the far corner of the room.

When Tamas and Vlora had joined him, Olem pointed at the floor where the lines of rust overlapped each other all the way out the back, disappearing into the tall grass between the school and the Ad River. "Whoever did this," Olem said, "cleaned up after themselves. They didn't want any bodies to tell a story."

"The story tells itself," Tamas snapped, striding back inside. He went to the front of the school, scattering flies in his wake. "They came in through the front." He pointed to blood spatter and bullet holes in the wall. "Overran whoever was standing guard, then took the factory floor. Our mages made a last stand upstairs, using whatever powder was at their disposal…"

He heard his voice crack. These men and women were his responsibility. They were his newest mages. Some were farmers, two of them bakers. One had been a librarian. They weren't trained for combat. They'd been slaughtered like sheep.

He could only pray that they had been able to take a few of the enemy with them.

"Death is a bloody painter and this is his canvas," Olem said quietly. He lit a cigarette and drew in a deep breath, then blew smoke against the wall, watching the flies scatter.

"Sir," Vlora said, stepping past Tamas and snatching something off the ground. She handed Tamas a round bit of leather with a hole in the middle. "Looks like it was behind the door. Whoever cleaned this place up must have missed it. Do you know what it is?"

Tamas spit to get rid of the sudden bitter taste in his mouth. "It's a leather gasket. You have to keep spares if you carry an air rifle. It must have fallen out of someone's kit."

An air rifle. A weapon used specifically to kill powder mages. Whoever had done this had come prepared.

Tamas threw the gasket away and stuffed his pistol into his belt. "Olem, who all knew the location of this school?"

"Aside from the powder cabal?" Olem rolled his cigarette between his fingers, considering. "It wasn't a closely guarded secret. They put up a sign, after all."

"Who all knew directly?" Tamas said.

"A couple members of the General Staff and Ricard Tumblar."

The General Staff were men and women who had been with him for decades. Tamas trusted them. He had to trust them.

"I want answers, even if someone has to bleed to give them. Find me Ricard Tumblar."


The Holy Warriors of Labor, the biggest workers' union in all the Nine, kept their headquarters inside an old warehouse in the Factory District of Adopest not far from where the Ad River spilled out into the Adsea.

Tamas watched the building with some trepidation. There were hundreds of people coming and going. It would be almost impossible to get in to speak with Ricard without being seen—and probably recognized—by someone. The coming conversation could very well become bloody, and Tamas didn't want to have it where Ricard's guards were within screaming distance.

If not for the urgent pressure of his heart pounding in his chest, Tamas would have waited until nightfall and followed Ricard home.

"We could make an appointment, sir," Olem suggested, leaning casually against the stoop. Across the street, one of the union guards was watching them with a frown. Olem waved to the man and held up a spare cigarette. The union guard cocked an eyebrow and then turned away, his interest gone.

"I'm not making an appointment," Tamas said flatly. "I don't want him to know we're coming."

"I think he's going to know one way or another. He's got more than twenty armed men on this street alone."

"I only counted eighteen."

Olem watched the foot traffic pass them with a feigned air of indifference. "Marksmen in the window above the shop thirty paces to your left, sir."

"Ah." Tamas saw them now out of the corner of his eye. "Something has Ricard spooked. The old headquarters had no more than four guards at any time."

"Could be he's worried about the Brudanians?"

"Or that I'll return. There's Vlora. Let's go."

They worked their way down the street, doing their best to avoid the attention of the union guards, and joined Vlora in the doorway of a small bakery. Tamas looked over the loaves stacked on the counter and wondered where Mihali had ended up. Was he still down south, with the main army?

Of course he was. If Mihali wasn't holding Kresimir at bay, then Adopest would have been leveled by now. Tamas felt himself wishing for a bowl of the chef's squash soup just about now.

Vlora led them through the bakery and out the back into a narrow alley filled with refuse and mud. "Down here," she said over her shoulder as they picked their way down the alley. Tamas's boots squelched as he walked and he tried to ignore the smell. The Factory District was by far the dirtiest part of the city—and the alleys were always the worst.

They navigated three more alleys, then climbed an iron ladder over a two-story building before they found the back entrance to the union headquarters.

A pair of union guards sat with their backs to the wall beside the door, their heads bowed beneath their hats as if they were asleep. A brief glance at the mud told Tamas that a quick scuffle had taken place, but Vlora had taken the two men without trouble.

"Are they dead?" Olem asked, flicking his cigarette into the mud before drawing his pistol.


"Good," Tamas said. "Try not to kill anyone on the way in. We don't know for sure whether Ricard has betrayed us." And if he has, I'll do the killing. Tamas set his hand to the door only to have Olem stop him.

"Pardon sir, but we'll go first."

"I can…"

"It's my job, sir. You haven't been letting me do it lately."

Tamas bit his tongue. This was a terrible time for insubordination from his own bodyguard, but Olem had a point. "Go on."

He didn't have to wait for more than about three minutes before Olem returned for him. "Sir. We have him."

They passed through the back hallways and two servants' rooms before slipping in the side entrance to Ricard's office. Ricard himself sat behind his desk, his jacket stained and his beard wild, his eyes narrowed in anger. Behind him, Vlora stood with the barrel of a pistol against the back of his head.

When he saw Olem, Ricard slammed both hands on his desk. "What is the meaning of this? What do you think…" His jaw dropped and he made to stand. Vlora put a hand on his shoulder to keep him in his seat. "Tamas? You're alive?"

"You don't sound too surprised," Tamas said. He holstered his own pistol and nodded to Vlora to let go of Ricard's shoulder. Olem took up a position beside the main office door.

Ricard swallowed hard, looking between Tamas and Olem. Tamas tried to decide if it was the nervousness of a man caught in betrayal or just the shock of his sudden presence. "I had heard you were still alive, but none of my sources were reliable. I—"

"What happened to my powder mage school? And where's my boy?"


"Do I have another?"

"Do you?"


"I… well, I don't know where Taniel is."

"You better explain quickly." Tamas drummed his fingers on the ivory handle of one of his dueling pistols.

"Of course, of course! Can I offer you some wine?"

Tamas tilted his head slightly. Ricard seemed unaware that he was two wrong words away from a bullet cleaning out his skull. "Talk."

"It's a very long story."

"Sum up."

"Taniel woke up. Not long after you went south, the savage girl brought him back. The two of them went to the front line and Taniel helped to hold against the Kez but then was court-martialed on charges of insubordination. He was kicked out of the army and was hired by the Wings of Adom, but then killed five of General Ket's soldiers in self-defense. He then disappeared."

Tamas rocked back on his heels, head spinning. "That's all happened in the last three months?"

Ricard nodded, glancing over his shoulder at Vlora.

"And you don't know where he is now?"


"And what happened to the school?"

Ricard frowned. "I haven't heard from them for a few weeks. I assumed everything was fine."

Tamas tried to read Ricard's face. This was a man who had made his fortune by being likable—smoothing things over and getting people to work together. Despite this, he was a terrible liar. The fact that he didn't seem to be lying now only deepened Tamas's concern.

Olem's startled shout was Tamas's only warning. He whirled to see a woman kick Olem in the side of the knee, sending him to the ground with a curse. The woman leapt upon Tamas, a stiletto in one hand, moving with impossible speed. Tamas caught her by the wrist and swung her past him—or at least he tried. She stepped back suddenly, flicked the stiletto into the air, and caught it with her other hand, stabbing it at Tamas's throat.

The knife missed by mere inches as Vlora slammed into the woman from one side, and they both hit Ricard's bookshelf with enough force to bring the whole thing down on them. Olem, back on his feet, waded into the mess to grab the woman by her collar, only to receive a punch to his groin. He doubled over and fell back against the wall.

Tamas stepped up behind the woman, ready to shoot her to keep her down.

"Fell, stop!" Ricard bellowed.

The woman immediately stopped struggling.

Still with a pistol trained on the woman, Tamas pulled Vlora and then Olem to their feet. The woman lifted herself to a sitting position in the middle of the collapsed bookshelf and stared sullenly at the pistol in Tamas's hand.

"Damn it, Fell," Ricard said. "What the pit was that?"

"You were in danger, sir," Fell said.

"Were you trying to kill the field marshal?"

Fell's cheeks grew slightly red. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't recognize him from behind. And no, I was only trying to incapacitate them."

"You swung a knife at my face!" Tamas said.

"It wouldn't have gone deep. I am very precise."

Tamas glanced between Vlora and Olem. Vlora had a darkening bruise on one cheek from the bookshelf and Olem cursed softly as he clutched at his groin. This woman had faced three armed strangers without fear, and she had only meant to incapacitate them? She had dropped Olem in a split second and nearly gotten the better of Tamas himself, even though he was burning a low powder trance.

"You've been hiring better people, I see," Tamas said to Ricard.

Ricard returned to his desk chair and put his head in his hands. "You could have made an appointment, you know."

"No, sir. He couldn't," Fell said from her spot on the floor. "He's been out of contact for months. The city is in foreign hands. He wouldn't know what to think."

Ricard scowled at her for a moment, only for the scowl to slide away, a look of realization replacing it. "Oh. You think I sold the city out to the Brudanians, don't you?"

"I know," Tamas said, "that a foreign army holds my city and that I left you, the Proprietor, and Ondraus with the keys to the city gates."

"It's bloody Lord Claremonte."

It was Tamas's turn to scowl. "Lord Vetas's master? Adamat didn't root out that mongrel?"

"Adamat did an admirable job," Ricard said. "Lord Vetas is dead and his men dead or scattered. We broke him only for his master to arrive with two brigades of Brudanian soldiers and half the Brudanian Royal Cabal."

"No one defended the city?"

Ricard's nostrils flared. "We tried. But… Claremonte didn't come to conquer. Or so he says. He claims his army is only here to help defend us from the Kez. He's running for the office of First Minister of Adro."

"Like pit he is." Tamas began to pace. This army in control of Adopest posed too many questions. If Tamas was going to find out answers, he'd have to do it backed by an army of his own. The Seventh and the Ninth, along with his Deliv allies, were still weeks away.

"Get me a meeting with Claremonte," Tamas said.

"That might not be the best idea."

"Why not?"

"He has half the Brudanian Royal Cabal behind him!" Ricard said. "Can you think of any group that hates you more than the royal cabals of the Nine? They'll kill you outright and dump your body in the Ad."

Tamas continued to pace. He didn't have the time for this. So many enemies. So many facets to consider. He needed allies badly. "What news from the front?"

"They're still holding, but…"

"But what?"

"I haven't had any good information from the front for almost a month."

"You haven't heard from the General Staff for that long? Pit, the Kez could be at the city gates by tomorrow! Damn it, I…"

"Sir," Fell said to Ricard. "Have you told him about Taniel?"

Tamas whirled on Ricard, snatching him by the front of the jacket. "What? What about him?"

"There have been… I mean, I've heard rumors, but—"

"What kind of rumors?"

"Nothing substantial."

"Tell me."

Ricard studied his hands before saying quietly, "That Taniel was captured by Kresimir and hung in the Kez camp. But," he said more loudly, "they're just rumors."

Tamas could hear his heart thundering in his ears. The Kez had taken his boy? They had hung him like a piece of meat, some macabre trophy? Fear coursed through him, followed by the fire of white-hot fury. He found himself sprinting from Ricard's office, shoving his way through the crowd out into the building's main hall.

Olem and Vlora caught up with him in the street.

"Where are we going, sir?" Vlora asked.

Tamas gripped the butt of his pistol. "I'm going to find my boy, and if he's not alive and well, I'm going to pull Kresimir's guts out through his ass."


Adamat was on his way to arrest a general.

He sat in the back of a carriage, the ground bumping away beneath him, and stared out the window at the fields of southern Adro. The fields were golden with fall wheat, the stalks bent by the weight of their fruit and swaying gently in the wind. The peacefulness of it all made him think of his family; both his wife and children at home and the one sold into slavery by the enemy.

This might not go well.

No, Adamat corrected himself. This could not go well.

What kind of a madman goes to arrest a general during wartime? The government was in disarray—practically nonexistent—and it was a miracle that the courts were still operating on a local level. All federal cases had been suspended since Manhouch's execution, and it had taken bribery and cajoling to get Ricard Tumblar, one of the interim-council elders, to sign a warrant for General Ket's arrest. They'd strong-armed two local judges into signing the same warrant. Adamat hoped it would be enough.


  • "A slam-bang conclusion to an outstanding trilogy."—Kirkus on The Autumn Republic
  • "Promise of Blood is a hugely promising debut. Guns, swords, and magic together? What more could you want? How about tense action, memorable characters, rising stakes, and cool, cool magic? Not only the finest flintlock fantasy I've read, but also the most fun. Brian McClellan is the real thing."—New York Times bestseller Brent Weeks on Promise of Blood
  • "This book is just plain awesome. I found myself enjoying every moment of it. Innovative magic, quick-paced plot, interesting world. I had a blast."—Brandon Sanderson, New York Times bestselling author on Promise of Blood
  • "The world of the privileged sorcerers and the strange abilities of the powder mages who can manipulate gunpowder are just as well drawn in this captivating universe."—RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars) on Promise of Blood
  • "McClellan's debut packs some serious heat.... A thoroughly satisfying yarn that should keep readers waiting impatiently for further installments."—Kirkus (Starred Review) on Promise of Blood
  • "Gunpowder and magic. An explosive combination. Promise of Blood is the best debut I've read in ages."—Peter V. Brett
  • "I love the world Brian McClellan builds, Powder Mages with flintlock pistols against white-gloved Privileged for the fate of a nation and more. Promise of Blood feels like the start of something amazing."—Django Wexler
  • "Brings a welcome breath of gunpowder-tinged air to epic fantasy."—Anthony Ryan on Promise of Blood
  • "McClellan's fitting conclusion to the trilogy which introduced an amazing world of rival traditions of magic at war with one another, a world of blood-soaked battlefields, gunpowder-snorting powder mages, and gods who can't help interfering in the mortal world."—Library Journal on The Autumn Republic

On Sale
Jan 5, 2016
Page Count
640 pages

Brian McClellan

About the Author

Brian McClellan is an American epic fantasy author from Cleveland, Ohio. He is known for his acclaimed Powder Mage Universe and essays on the life and business of being a writer.

Brian now lives on the side of a mountain in Utah with his wife, Michele, where he writes books and nurses a crippling video game addiction.

Learn more about this author