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The Thousand Names: Book One of the Shadow Campaigns Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2014
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Wexler’s polished military fantasy, first in the Shadow Campaign series, distinguishes itself from other epic doorstops with its unique setting, intricate plotting, and layered characters. Seasoned captain Marcus d’Ivoire is the only volunteer in Khandar, a distant Vordanai colonial outpost surrounded by desert. When a religious rebellion turns the quiet outpost into a war zone, Marcus must whip out-of-practice soldiers into a functioning army. One of these rankers, Winter Ihernglass, is unexpectedly promoted, making it difficult to protect her—yes, her—secret, though her competence is undeniable. Both rely on the brilliant, enigmatic new leader, Colonel Janus, but he has an ulterior motive: a magical relic that has been the true danger all along. Wexler makes military tactics riveting, though at times the sheer detail given over to the realities of pseudo-eighteenth-century warfare (think muskets, swords, and cannons) is too much. Fortunately, at these times, a riotous battle, a perceptive character beat, or another hint of insidious magic comes to the fore. This excellent series debut is for fans of Peter Brett, Daniel Abraham, and Joe Abercrombie. --Krista Hutley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Praise for The Thousand Names
“A fascinating world of dust and bayonets and muskets...and magic.”—S. M. Stirling, New York Times bestselling author of the Novels of the Change
“I absolutely loved it. Wexler balances the actions of his very human characters with just the right amount of imaginative ‘magic’ to keep me wanting more.”—Taylor Anderson, national bestselling author of the Destroyermen series
“The incredible world building, character development and yes, even the complexity of it all, will hook epic fantasy fans and leave them anxiously waiting for the next book in the series. ”—Bookworm Blues
“Django does an excellent job with his characters...they are great fun to ride along with...”—Speculative Book Review
“A spectacular epic fantasy debut that heralds Django Wexler as a talented author and The Shadow Campaigns series as a future flintlock fantasy classic.”—Fantasy Book Critic
“Such detail on the military life! From camp conditions to battle tactics, to the lines of grand strategy, the authenticity of the military fantasy is here in full flower.”—SF Signal
More Praise for the Shadow Campaigns Novels
“Gritty, brutal, and yet wonderfully intimate...exceptional military fantasy.”—Jason M. Hough, New York Times bestselling author of Zero World
“Succeeding volumes may end up doing for the Napoleonic Wars what George R. R. Martin did for the Wars of the Roses. Highly recommended.”—Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow Novels
“The Thousand Names is marvelously written, ingeniously conceived, and great fun. Without a doubt the best book of [the] year.”—Simon R. Green, New York Times bestselling author of the Secret Histories Novels
“Wexler has written another excellently entertaining novel, filled with battles and politics and personalities....It subverts, interrogates, or outright inverts a good few tropes associated with epic fantasy.”—Tor.com
Top customer reviews
In "The Thousand Names" the Old Colonials are a Vordainian army, supplied with flintlocks, cannons and bayonets. They are in retreat from The Redeemers, a new and fanatical movement in Khandar that has overturned the old order and put the Vordanians to flight. Their campaign is re-invigorated by reinforcements from home, including their engimatic military-genius of a new commander, a spy with a dark secret, and lots of fresh troops utterly unready for the dusty reality of their desert battleground. They join the old campaigners - an idealistic company commander in charge of a cynical army, a promising young ranker who is secretly a woman posing as a man, fleeing her past, and a cast of other supporting characters who are each three-dimensional and unique.
The principle characters are each unique, with interesting takes on gender roles. They have diverse and complex motives that all interact to make a very nuanced, complicated plot out of the fairly simple war narrative. Wexler's command of Napoleonic tactics is very good, and the battles are tense and feel authentic. And like any good modern fantasy writer, none of his characters are all good or all bad - or even consistently one way or the other, depending on circumstances.
It may be that audience for flintlock fantasy is somewhat narrow, but it certainly includes me. This is the book I've wanted to read for so long I tried to write something similar myself - and I'm delighted Wexler has brought so much skill and brio to the genre.
Obviously, I loved the setting and the world-building. The writing had a way of putting you right there with the colonial garrison, so it wasn't hard to sympathize with the characters and the foreignness of their situation or the awkwardness of being strangers in a strange land. I was also fascinated with the idea of this ragtag colonial army that's made up of one-part green recruits and one-part jaded-and-couldn't-care-less old veterans, and all the rules of warfare go out the window. The Redeemer forces may vastly outnumber the Vordanai, but the fact that the former is made up of mostly militia and over-confident Auxiliary troops gave their clashes plenty of suspense, and the detailed battle scenes in the desert are worthy of any military fantasy.
But the highlight of this book had to be the characters. I absolutely adored Winter; she was probably my favorite character, but Marcus wasn't far behind either. What's great about these two characters is that they feel deep and real, and are immediately the kind of people you want to like and to see succeed. Beyond that, everyone in this book also has secrets and mysteries, and so you just want to keep reading to find out more.
This even applies to the supporting cast. Most of them are pretty well fleshed out too, and I think the fact that Colonel Janus is my second favorite character in this book despite him not being a point-of-view character is a testament to that. The author also focuses briefly here and there on Jaffa, a character inside the city of Ashe-Katarion, giving insights into what's happening on the side of the Redeemers. I felt this was important, as it gives us a look at the opposition, or else it's easy just to think of them as a faceless enemy army.
All told, this book was hard to put down. For its length, I finished it in really good time, and it was one of those rare gems where I knew it would go straight onto my shelf of favorites even before I had reached the quarter-way point. Easily one of the best books I've read this year so far.
Wexler gives the reader a gritty world filled with innovative and compelling characters, most of all strong women who are not "men in dresses". (I mean writing female characters who do exactly the same thing as the men, they just happened to be women.) His world building is superb, without overwhelming character development. The plot moves along quickly tantalizing the reader with hints and exposition as the real story throughout the first 2/3rds of book, and wraps up the story neat and clean, leaving space to go forward without the sense of being unfinished. (Yes, there will be more books coming!)
It's hard for me to find something not to like in this book, I was left wanting more when I finished, so much so I reread the book a few days after finishing it! I can say if are a fantasy purist, meaning you don't want gunpowder in your swords and sorcery, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for something with ne'r a Dwarf of Elf in sight, The Thousand Names has a story for you.