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The Mad Lancers

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Young war hero Ben Styke commands a colonial garrison in a sleepy Fatrastan town. It’s a well-deserved quiet posting and Styke intends to keep the peace despite rumblings of discontent across the continent. But peace is difficult to maintain on the frontier. Taxes imposed by the far away Kez government, and their heavy-handed methods of enforcing them, have the people on ed Young war hero Ben Styke commands a colonial garrison in a sleepy Fatrastan town. It’s a well-deserved quiet posting and Styke intends to keep the peace despite rumblings of discontent across the continent. But peace is difficult to maintain on the frontier. Taxes imposed by the far away Kez government, and their heavy-handed methods of enforcing them, have the people on edge. When the governor’s cruel brother stops for the night in Fernhollow, Styke is forced to protect the people of his town in a brutal escalation that threatens to destroy everything—and everyone—he has fought for. Occurs twelve years before the events in Sins of Empire.


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Young war hero Ben Styke commands a colonial garrison in a sleepy Fatrastan town. It’s a well-deserved quiet posting and Styke intends to keep the peace despite rumblings of discontent across the continent. But peace is difficult to maintain on the frontier. Taxes imposed by the far away Kez government, and their heavy-handed methods of enforcing them, have the people on ed Young war hero Ben Styke commands a colonial garrison in a sleepy Fatrastan town. It’s a well-deserved quiet posting and Styke intends to keep the peace despite rumblings of discontent across the continent. But peace is difficult to maintain on the frontier. Taxes imposed by the far away Kez government, and their heavy-handed methods of enforcing them, have the people on edge. When the governor’s cruel brother stops for the night in Fernhollow, Styke is forced to protect the people of his town in a brutal escalation that threatens to destroy everything—and everyone—he has fought for. Occurs twelve years before the events in Sins of Empire.

30 review for The Mad Lancers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    Ben Stykes is terrifying. This will be a short review. The Mad Lancers takes place twelve years before the events in Sins of Empire. I haven’t finished Sins of Empire—I’m reading it right now—but I don’t think it’s necessary to read it first in order to enjoy this one. The Mad Lancers is a great novella that tells the origin of the nickname Mad Ben Styke and the creation of his Mad Lancers. It’s not a long novella; it took me less than two hours to read. Just like McClellan’s usual standard of wr Ben Stykes is terrifying. This will be a short review. The Mad Lancers takes place twelve years before the events in Sins of Empire. I haven’t finished Sins of Empire—I’m reading it right now—but I don’t think it’s necessary to read it first in order to enjoy this one. The Mad Lancers is a great novella that tells the origin of the nickname Mad Ben Styke and the creation of his Mad Lancers. It’s not a long novella; it took me less than two hours to read. Just like McClellan’s usual standard of writing, a fast-paced story line with awesome action scenes without sacrificing characterizations is here. '"Ride,lancers, ride," he sang softly to himself as he reached the second branch of the dead tree. "Through the meadows, against the tide. Let your hooves ring,steel ring; break your lances, break their bones, break their spirit against the stones."' I’ve heard many incredibly positive things about the character Ben Styke, and even though this is just a novella, I’m already intrigued by this character very much. He’s monstrously powerful, and he has a firm sense of justice that made his furious charge so much more interesting to read. “Never children. Even the worst little shits should get the chance to see adulthood." If The Mad Lancers showed only a glimpse of Benjamin Styke’s feats, let's just say that I am seriously excited to find out more about his role in Gods of Blood and Powder series. You can find the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eon ♒Windrunner♒

    Another solid Brian Mcclellan novella, this time featuring none other than the stand out character from the last one I read, Mad Ben Stykes. The Major protects an innocent lodge owner from a beating by someone with political clout, and by protect I mean breaks both his arms! Madness ensues as said asshole calls in his connections and the town is attacked. Luckily, Ben Stykes is one badass lancier and he was not nicknamed Mad on a whim. Cue chaos.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    Ben Styke is a war hero and commander of a garrison in Fernhollow. Fernhollow is a small relatively peaceful out of the way town until a Kez Squadron spends the night. Major Prost, The Fatrastan Governor's brother, beats a local business owner for asking him to pay his bill. Styke intervenes on the business owners behalf and the real trouble starts. Ben Styke is one hell of a killer which for the time period is fine, but he has an equally fierce temper. I can't help but feel as though if anyone w Ben Styke is a war hero and commander of a garrison in Fernhollow. Fernhollow is a small relatively peaceful out of the way town until a Kez Squadron spends the night. Major Prost, The Fatrastan Governor's brother, beats a local business owner for asking him to pay his bill. Styke intervenes on the business owners behalf and the real trouble starts. Ben Styke is one hell of a killer which for the time period is fine, but he has an equally fierce temper. I can't help but feel as though if anyone with the slightest bit of diplomatic sense had taken Styke's place when confronting Major Post that the entire book would be different. Styke acts first and thinks second and Fernhollow suffers because of it. When he's thinking he's a horrifying monster to face. Styke is the biggest hammer in a world full of nails. He can't help but smash them. Styke fights like Rocky Balboa. His face may be all bloody and he may be unable to see, but you should see the other guy. The Mad Lancers felt somewhat unnecessary. Perhaps at some point as Gods of Blood and Power progresses I will be curious about the Mad Lancers origins and the beginning of the Fatrastan Revolution. Right now I'm uninterested by Fatrasta and it's history. Styke is a curiosity, but I largely wonder if he was the inspiration for Kez's Wardens. He's the most physically resilient and powerful non magically augmented individual in the Powder Mage universe to date. The Mad Lancers was a solid origin story of the military group with the same name.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    "It is not hard to kill forty men in the dark when their attention is on murder and looting. All it takes is a good knife and the will. I had both." Easily one of the best novellas I have ever read, if not THE BEST. Ben Styke is a helluva character and a legend in the making. A great revenge story that is the perfect warm up before starting the main trilogy. This is set 12 years before the beginning of Gods of Blood and Powder. I am anxious to see what has been going on in Fatrasta an "It is not hard to kill forty men in the dark when their attention is on murder and looting. All it takes is a good knife and the will. I had both." Easily one of the best novellas I have ever read, if not THE BEST. Ben Styke is a helluva character and a legend in the making. A great revenge story that is the perfect warm up before starting the main trilogy. This is set 12 years before the beginning of Gods of Blood and Powder. I am anxious to see what has been going on in Fatrasta and with good ol' Benjamin Styke in the years between these stories. If you plan on reading the trilogy, I strongly urge you to read this novella first. DAMN! That was a good read. Actual Rating: 4.5 stars ****

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    Finally done with the short stories in the Powder Mage universe. Pretty much all of them have been great, and this one wasn't an exception. I'm excited to see more of Ben Styke in the next trilogy. Finally done with the short stories in the Powder Mage universe. Pretty much all of them have been great, and this one wasn't an exception. I'm excited to see more of Ben Styke in the next trilogy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stefano G.

    I’ve been going through a block in reading and the only things I’ve been able to read are the preview chapters of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson and this novella by Brian McClellan. It’s refreshing to read a story that’s easy-going, fast-flowing and where you don’t have to think when you read. Set in Fartrasta, some years before the events in Sins of Empire, we get the backstory of the legendary Mad Ben Styke and his lancers and how he got his nickname. Brian McClellan is really great at this I’ve been going through a block in reading and the only things I’ve been able to read are the preview chapters of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson and this novella by Brian McClellan. It’s refreshing to read a story that’s easy-going, fast-flowing and where you don’t have to think when you read. Set in Fartrasta, some years before the events in Sins of Empire, we get the backstory of the legendary Mad Ben Styke and his lancers and how he got his nickname. Brian McClellan is really great at this world-building thing. All these short stories he creates just add so much depth to this world and well this is another good addition. Much darker than the main series with some great fighting scenes, and unexpected revelations! The only negative thing I found is that the ending is cut too abruptly short, the build up until then made me expect much more… but all in all still a pleasant read! Advised to all Powder Mage World fans, and not!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    “I’m a monster, Prost,” Styke said. “I know what I am. But I don’t kill kids or burn civilians. I don’t approve of suffering, either, but for you I’ll make an exception.” This was a fantastic little novella. Ben Stykes is already one of my favourite characters from the Gods of Blood and Powder trilogy, so seeing where he got his namesake from was lots of fun. Highly recommend this if you love The Powder Mage world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kitvaria Sarene

    I really like Ben, so this was a story almost written for me... Ben just can't stand injustice, and goes on a nice little killing spree - and I was both entertained, shocked, put through all sorts of emotions and happy to spend more time with him! I really like Ben, so this was a story almost written for me... Ben just can't stand injustice, and goes on a nice little killing spree - and I was both entertained, shocked, put through all sorts of emotions and happy to spend more time with him!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Flying Monkey

    4 Stars! A great novella on the history of the Mad Lancers. Definitely worth the time to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon Adams

    The title is pretty self-explanatory. A bit of backstory on one of my favorite Powder Mage characters, Mad Ben Stykes. I don't feel like you'd have to read the rest of the books in his series to enjoy this one, so it might be a great jumping off point for those of you that are Powder Mage virgins. Tis is an excellent read. The title is pretty self-explanatory. A bit of backstory on one of my favorite Powder Mage characters, Mad Ben Stykes. I don't feel like you'd have to read the rest of the books in his series to enjoy this one, so it might be a great jumping off point for those of you that are Powder Mage virgins. Tis is an excellent read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Solseit

    Such a delightful novella - McClellan is the master of novellas that add so much content to the world he built. Mad Ben Styke. How did he get his name? This is the right place for you!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Orhan Capas

    Impresive little story from the world of powdermage. Its backstory for Ben Styke of Sins of Empire , some information about him becoming a hero for revolution. Everyone who liked Ben styke in sins of Empire should read it asap. If you did not read it, just look into it for good story and general lore. Impresive little story from the world of powdermage. Its backstory for Ben Styke of Sins of Empire , some information about him becoming a hero for revolution. Everyone who liked Ben styke in sins of Empire should read it asap. If you did not read it, just look into it for good story and general lore.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Michalak

    Loved this Powder Mage companion novella. It's my favourite so far (can we have some more please Mr McCellan, I've run out :) ) with the wonderful character of Ben Styke. In this short we get to know him, and what a pleasure that was, and how the Mad Lancers come to be formed. Would love to read more about Ben (and Jackal) and their adventures. Loved this Powder Mage companion novella. It's my favourite so far (can we have some more please Mr McCellan, I've run out :) ) with the wonderful character of Ben Styke. In this short we get to know him, and what a pleasure that was, and how the Mad Lancers come to be formed. Would love to read more about Ben (and Jackal) and their adventures.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kaustubh Dudhane

    "For most men, the strength of a Privileged didn’t matter— their reputation alone was enough to give them a wide berth. Styke was not most men. All he needed was will and a good knife. He had both." Carnage! My reaction after watching Mad Ben Stykes doing the carnage - I had become a huge fan of Brian McClellan after loving Sins of Empire. And this was an absolutely pocket dynamo. A rapid read with full of action. Time to resume the love affair with this universe. "For most men, the strength of a Privileged didn’t matter— their reputation alone was enough to give them a wide berth. Styke was not most men. All he needed was will and a good knife. He had both." Carnage! My reaction after watching Mad Ben Stykes doing the carnage - I had become a huge fan of Brian McClellan after loving Sins of Empire. And this was an absolutely pocket dynamo. A rapid read with full of action. Time to resume the love affair with this universe.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Quintin Zimmermann

    A revelatory past tale of the younger man that Ben Stykes was and the man he had already become. Ben Stykes is the fulcrum of the charge, the tip of the spear, the man to rally around when the chips are down. Whilst Druss had Snaga the Sender, Ben had his warhorse, Deshnar. A rollicking short tale with the message: "Do not mess with Ben" A revelatory past tale of the younger man that Ben Stykes was and the man he had already become. Ben Stykes is the fulcrum of the charge, the tip of the spear, the man to rally around when the chips are down. Whilst Druss had Snaga the Sender, Ben had his warhorse, Deshnar. A rollicking short tale with the message: "Do not mess with Ben"

  16. 4 out of 5

    David

    McClellan is a good writer. The story is pretty gritty though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    A great prequel on the birth of the Mad Lancers, Ben Styke is really an outstanding character.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aram Brazilian

    A story worth reading... I think everyone would agree that Ben Styke is a good guy to have on your side - I would like to see more of him. And the same goes for Jackal. They make a good team.

  19. 4 out of 5

    LJ Waguespack

    Stellar, additional background story on a major character in the Gods of Blood and Powder series. Thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you, Brian McClellan.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Mad Lancers focuses of the backstory of Mad Ben Stykes and show us how he ended up in the Fatrastan Independence Revolution! As with the previous stories the events are portrayed with a visceral feel to everything with the character of Mad Ben really being put through the ringer when in reality all he wants to have things settled and at peace! :D The casual way that he carves his way through the Kez though really puts his name to shame to the point where even his second in command Blye is a l The Mad Lancers focuses of the backstory of Mad Ben Stykes and show us how he ended up in the Fatrastan Independence Revolution! As with the previous stories the events are portrayed with a visceral feel to everything with the character of Mad Ben really being put through the ringer when in reality all he wants to have things settled and at peace! :D The casual way that he carves his way through the Kez though really puts his name to shame to the point where even his second in command Blye is a little dumbstruck! :D As the story progresses though we get to see how the Mad Lancers are form and how Ben acquires his more famous second in command Ibana! :D The Mad Lancers is brutally brutal from the beginning to the end! :D You will find yourself laughing and then realise what you are laughing at so slightly macabre humour throughout but at the same time the novella flow brilliantly from start to finish and Ben's brand of justice is brilliantly delivered with literally no mercy for the offenders! :D At the same time though we get to see that everything Mad Ben and his Lancers do is in the name of Justice and if you are not his enemy you are cool with the Mad Lancers and welcome to join the club! The Mad Lancers is visceral, fast-paced, full of adventure an justice at the point of a cleaver! :D Pick as it action packed throughout and highly recommended crisp-high-five! :D

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    When I started The Mad Lancers I didn’t think it would be this good. A novella about the origin of The Mad Lancers and its leader Mad Ben Styke sounded interesting for Powder Mage fan like me but it appeared I underestimated Brian McClellan. Just a few pages into the story and i just couldn’t put it down. I didn’t expected the book to have emotional plot but it has and it’s a powerful one with precise impact. It is clear why The Mad Ben and his Lancers are such a force and why Brian McClellan is When I started The Mad Lancers I didn’t think it would be this good. A novella about the origin of The Mad Lancers and its leader Mad Ben Styke sounded interesting for Powder Mage fan like me but it appeared I underestimated Brian McClellan. Just a few pages into the story and i just couldn’t put it down. I didn’t expected the book to have emotional plot but it has and it’s a powerful one with precise impact. It is clear why The Mad Ben and his Lancers are such a force and why Brian McClellan is a wickedly good writer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ThomyZ

    Another nice novella set in the the Powder Mage universe. Mad Ben Styke is a great character and this is a nice insight into his backstory, without turning into one of those prequels full of "so that's how that happened" moments. It's also pretty brutal, but fans of McClellan should be used to that. Another nice novella set in the the Powder Mage universe. Mad Ben Styke is a great character and this is a nice insight into his backstory, without turning into one of those prequels full of "so that's how that happened" moments. It's also pretty brutal, but fans of McClellan should be used to that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessalyn

    I really enjoyed this novella. it's set in the powder mage universe & fills in details of events that occurred before & are mentioned in the main series. this basically addresses the formation of Mad Ben Stykes Mad Lancers & their enchanted armor. great fun to read! I really enjoyed this novella. it's set in the powder mage universe & fills in details of events that occurred before & are mentioned in the main series. this basically addresses the formation of Mad Ben Stykes Mad Lancers & their enchanted armor. great fun to read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    Meh. Really disappointed with this one. Too predictable, almost nothing exciting, crappy incompetent villains (there is a Privilege who's like the lamest ever), and very few actual Mad Lancers action. Should have titled it Mad Ben Styke instead. Meh. Really disappointed with this one. Too predictable, almost nothing exciting, crappy incompetent villains (there is a Privilege who's like the lamest ever), and very few actual Mad Lancers action. Should have titled it Mad Ben Styke instead.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Selina

    If there is a lesson to be learned, it is: never piss off Mad Ben Styke. You'll regret it. Besides, apart from his principles, it's his heart for horses I like the most about him. The only thing I wondered was why Rezi is called "Remi" twice in the story. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is: never piss off Mad Ben Styke. You'll regret it. Besides, apart from his principles, it's his heart for horses I like the most about him. The only thing I wondered was why Rezi is called "Remi" twice in the story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave Mohr

    For a short read it was a really good book. Good characters and story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Seamus Quigley

    This is one of McClellan's better short stories, and he writes some great short stories. This is one of McClellan's better short stories, and he writes some great short stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

    How Ben Styke earned the monicker "Mad Ben Styke." Dark and violent and, as usual, the protagonist takes enough damage to kill any five people. How Ben Styke earned the monicker "Mad Ben Styke." Dark and violent and, as usual, the protagonist takes enough damage to kill any five people.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richard Clouston

    I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read from the powder mage world and this was no exception. I really liked Ben Styke in the first book and it was great getting a backstory for him to flesh out the character more. Read this to get myself back into the universe and am looking forward to starting book two when it drops later tonight.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bogdan

    Yeah, not so complex story, quite straightforward action and execution, but there are some explanations about Ben Stykes past... And what`s with the armors, here it looks like they`re enchanted?! I don`t remember this to be said in the novels... Yeah, not so complex story, quite straightforward action and execution, but there are some explanations about Ben Stykes past... And what`s with the armors, here it looks like they`re enchanted?! I don`t remember this to be said in the novels...

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