The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan
I continue to adore this series. We’ve moved into massive war campaigns, while all the individual characters are on their own massive life threatening missions. The Adran army battles the Kez, and it becomes dark and devious. Meanwhile, shit’s happening back in Adro proper. Each of the many lead characters gets a huge excellent arc and it’s really entertaining and heinous and brutal. This is not a happy series, and this is the goddamn Empire of the set.
The battle sequences are fucking super violent. The magic itself is lightning bolts and people vaporizing and heads bursting and blood and guts and I LOVE THAT. But the battles themselves. It’s muskets and bayonets, cannonballs and horsemen. So people are constantly getting their brains blown out and their faces staved in with hooves and throats slashed and I LOVE THAT TOO. I like when high fantasy gets gory.
The actual plot is twisty and devious. It’s a good sign when you actively loathe characters. Like Joffrey in ASOIAF. Where you want them to die and then when they do die, it’s never brutal enough. There’s a ton of them here. McClellan takes his characters in and out of the action, and that mixup totally makes things even more aggravating and dramatic.
It ends on such a motherfucker of a note too. Like I said, this is the Empire of the series. By the end of the book, no one is in a good place. One of them is basically crucified. More gods are killed, and the story barrels towards a huge and massively brutal conclusion for the next book, which is ostensibly the final book in the series.