- Series: Shadow Campaigns (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Roc; 1 edition (July 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451465105
- ISBN-13: 978-0451465108
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 254 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Thousand Names: Book One of The Shadow Campaigns Hardcover – July 2, 2013
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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
Praise for The Thousand Names
“Wexler has produced something unusual in the fantasy line, with a setting reminiscent of the early Victorian period, out on the bleeding edge of Empire, a world of dust and bayonets and muskets...and magic. The characters are fascinating and all of them have secrets. The heroes range from the noble to the distinctly ambiguous....I read it at a gulp and look forward to more.”—S. M. Stirling, New York Times Bestselling Author of Lord of Mountains
“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
“I would wholeheartedly recommend The Thousand Names, not only to fans of fantasy but also to fans of military fiction of all types. Fans of Steven Erikson, David Drake, Glen Cook, Naomi Novik, Tom Kratman, Jack Campbell, David Weber, and John Ringo take note – there’s a new military fiction cowboy in town and his name is Django.” – SFSignal.com
“The scenes of military life and combat tactics are well crafted, and Winter and Marcus’s respective successes keep the story moving swiftly enough until the darker secret and elements of the fantastic make themselves known.” – Publishers Weekly
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Which is to say that it takes a while -- too long for my comfort level, and maybe even for my tastes. It takes a while, but it does come.
In the meantime, there are some competently-written Napoleonic-era, colonial battle scenes to get the reader through, and we get to know some appealing characters, if not all as intriguing (not early on, in any case) as I might have liked.
All of it gets better towards the end. Not so much the writing, which remains good throughout, but the characters, the promised sub-plots, and the promised, finally-redeemed, magical system (which is quite intriguing and well, if too briefly, revealed.
And if that sounds a tepid review...it is only partially intended to be. It WAS a very good, if not terrific read.
On the other hand, I VERY MUCH EXPECT, that the second book in the series - now that the magic AND the real plot have been revealed - -will be much more fun and, frankly, an over-all more engrossing read. The first installment really would have benefited from having the magic and related sub-plots having been offered up much earlier, but, for all the ambivalence of THIS review, I am eager to plunge into the second installment. The game is now afoot. The magic is unleashed. I can't imagine either will be containable past the first few chapters...and so long as they are not, this next book should be a helluva read.
The book is bloated with pages upon pages of battle scenes that, to be frank, were really incredibly boring. The problem wasn't necessarily the writing, but more of: I don't care who wins the battle, I don't know enough about either side, I don't care about these characters all that much.
Also... I have a really high standard when it comes to battle scenes. It's really not enough to just say a character is clever. I want to know why a character is clever. I want to know the odds stacked against them and see them escape by the skin of their teeth. I swore I wasn't going to say it here but I just can't help myself. Uhtred gives me bee bombs. Uhtred gives me lepers and reanimated corpses and oracles and Trojan horses.
Colonel Janus gives me... bluffing and educated guesses.
Come on man.
Now that the unpleasant part is out of the way- I am happy to say that I did really, thoroughly enjoy the latter half of the book. I think Winter's character and story was far superior to Marcus's bland white knight, obedient soldier routine.
The writing was fine. Some of the plot points were relatively predictable (Bobby... the Steel Ghost... Adrecht...).
I have an idea what the Thousand Names are now and why they are significant. I'm excited to see where Winter's story goes. If Marcus gets left out of the second book I will shed no tears. I do wish the author would not interrupt a battle scene to describe a cricket statue with enormous junk... but it was a debut novel so I'm hoping some of the pacing issues will be solved in the next book. Which I absolutely do intend to read, though I am in no rush.
All in all- I would recommend this to fantasy readers with lots of patience.
There is quite a bit of military strategy and description of terrain, formations and how battles take place. Obviously, this is to be expected in a military fantasy book. I think it hit a good balance of being extremely descriptive so you could follow the action and not overwhelming you. The book follows a military force on a campaign into the desert and the writing really captures the stark geography and problems of moving a military force through inhospitable territory.
There's not a lot of emphasis on magic until the very end of the book when the action becomes really intense. The end of the book definitely sets it up for a sequel which I'm sure I'll read sooner or later!