April 6th, 2013, 06:19 PM
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler
Another superb series debut: blurb and some first impressions; mark your calendar for the July release of this one
"Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic....
Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.
To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.
The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path"
The Thousand Names is not only excellent and with both a self-contained storyline that promises great expansion by its end and great characters whom you want to follow in later installments, but it is also a page turner that I simply could not put down when started, so I read it quite earlier than I expected...
The blurb gives you a hint what the book is about but to summarize the situation - Vordanai a colonial power not unlike England of the 19th century, where nobility and wealth buy army commissions and the backbone of the army are the lower ranked academy officers and the NCO's, Khandar, a different skin color/religion "protectorate" on the edge of a desert cut by a mighty river, so an Egypt-like country if you wish, a corrupt ruler kept in power by the might of his overseas "friends", until a religious inspired revolt which also convinced the local "auxiliary" army trained by the Vordanai to turn against the ruler, the occupation army - the "colonials" leaving in retreat the capital and huddling at the edge of the sea in a fort until reinforcements or ships home come, all kept together only by experienced Captain Marcus d'Ivoire - with secrets of his own including why he came to what otherwise is a dumping ground for incompetents and malcontents - who leads the remaining part of the regiment as the noble colonel commander got himself killed chasing brigands...
The other main POV in addition to Marcus is "Winter Ihernglass" who as the blurb notes, escaped a few years ago the most notorious workhouse for poor girls in Vordan - the capital - enlisted as a boy and volunteered to go as far away as the reach of empire made it possible; however Winter discovers a talent for the army, while her secret may not be quite as secret as she thinks...
All gets going when new Colonial commander Count Janus comes with a few more thousand very green soldiers and officers to match and despite what everyone believes (including the local Prince who wants nothing better than to make it to Vordan with his ill gotten gains than recover his throne from which he was ejected so unceremoniously), Janus decides to crush the rebellion and regain the capital - considering the balance of forces with 25 k Redemeer forces and 10k auxiliaries against some 6k at most Vordanai troops, 2/3 of which are green recruits just arrived, Marcus thinks that is madness, but Janus has a method to it...
Of course in the background we get local magicians warning of a major wizard coming from overseas, intrigues from both Vordan - where the king is sick, his heir is an inexperienced girl, and the leading noble the "Last Duke" is Janus' enemy, leads the secret police and sends an observer along, not to speak of the local politics where the fanatic redeemers, the opportunist local general, the desert warriors and the older magical order of Khandar - which is women oriented while of course the "redeemers" are the typical male dominated desert religion who regards women as property etc etc... all have in common only exterminating the "foreigners"...
And so it goes in alternating pov's from Marcus and Winter with interludes from the local power players in a non-stop narrative that is fully satisfying.
There are a few more points I would note;
- the main characters Markus and Winter (though there are quite a few important ones that I will let you discover) seem like the ultimate in cliche - the competent and loyal warrior and the girl as boy on the run and in the army but actually they develop very distinctive personalities as Marcus never becomes the ultimate savior or more than he seems and he consequently makes a few mistakes, though of course others make mistakes too. Winter on the other hand is again not a "super heroine" and she has her own weaknesses but also she grows with the action and definitely transcends the original cliche
- the writing is very "realistic" at least as sff goes - while there is "grittiness" with the "heads on spikes" quip that is popular today appearing here too, the book could be an account of colonial wars of yore with the corruption, attending sequence of misunderstandings and mistakes on both sides etc etc
- magic is introduced slowly as is the actual "big picture" in so far we know it....
Overall a very impressive and very polished series debuts that covers everything one wants in an epic fantasy and I expect this series to go far...
Top 25 of mine for sure and sequel a huge asap
Last edited by suciul; April 6th, 2013 at 06:31 PM.
April 6th, 2013, 08:51 PM
This book has peaked my interest, glad to hear it was hard to put down.