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The Thousand Names I liked this book so much that I needed to make another review a gush review on my blog me know your thoughts I have been particularly lucky lately with the reading picks I was nervous about starting this series I owned this book for uite some time and the cover is spectacular the blurb is magnetic and the rating is high I had high expectations about the book and the series but I was worried to be disappointed I should not have worried at all Military fantasy I guess I should be ashamed for not have known this existed I love this genre And I would say there are two setting traits that allow the book to stand out the first is the 17001800 setting; I never thought I would like rifles bayonets I generally like sword fights and cannons; yet I found a brand new love The second is the desert The descriptions are so detailed and not boring that I was almost able to picture the scenesThe story itself is fascinating; being military fantasy it might be clear that it is all about armies and battles What you cannot anticipate is that the description of the fights through the eyes of the characters make these fight so personal; I have to confess that during the first view spoiler Winter hide spoiler Actual Rating 45 StarsWow I loved thisI think the real strength in The Thousand Names is how incredibly well written it is I want to start by explaining the reason I docked half a starThere were some moments where the in depth paragraphs of military maneuvers and battles carried on for just a touch longer than necessary There were some moments where I wished the plot moved just a touch faster HOWEVERThese two small issues hardly detracted from my overall enjoyment I can tell that this isn't a book for everyone but it sure as hell is a book for meI really appreciated the slow unfurling of the plot it was great to discover along with the characters exactly what kind of powers are at play here The perspectives were compelling the world building was methodical rich The tendrils of magic that are woven through this story are subtle captivatingThis one is sort of difficult for me to explain why I loved it so much but I found myself making every excuse to read itI even penciled in an extra gym day just so I could listenThe Thousand Names is a glimpse into a small sliver of events that hint at a much larger much conseuential picture I look forward to watching it reveal itself in the next installments There's something strangely completely charming about how Django Wexler has braided together the different perspectives in this tale It has magic muskets and mayhem which I guess is the very essence of Flintlock Fantasy Consider me hooked Check out my interview with the author here This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest 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 desertTo flee from her past Winter Ihernglass masueraded 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 oddsThe 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 I'm in loveI went into this not just hoping to love it but somewhat weirdly confident that I would and low and behold for once my hunch was right because I LOVED IT I LOVED EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF IT This is my third 5 star rating out of the 10 books that I’ve read since the new year which is saying a lot because I don't hand out 5 stars like candy any And I wish I could say that I was the oh so analytical reader type who break a book down into each of its parts strive to understand how the work relates to other works and society as a whole and parallels with other works of literature political beliefs and general themes WELL I AM NOT Simple as that First and foremost I rate books based on my enjoyment then try to look at the other nitty gritty bits Further I love the good old classic medieval setting fantasy books with epic battles but flintlock fantasy is not exactly a subgenre that I’m well versed in so imagine just how much I loved this book which sucked me in right from the start to finish without a single moment of boredom or confusion whatsoever PlotTTN is a gloriously epic military fantasy full of spectacular battles set in a severe desert environment and focused on strategies on the battlefield as well as formations tactics and martial procedures Glorious I sayThe Napoleonic elements corruption within the ranks and visual displays of battle the book aptly captures the tension of daily life in a pre industrial footsoldier type of war The plot is very well structured and maintains a constant pace throughout until the final page with some twists that are truly out of the left field making it one hell of a fascinating and riveting read I've noticed uite a few say that it starts out a tad slow and that the plot takes a while to get going as the novel does spend the first hundred or so pages gaining momentum serving as introduction to the characters as well the world and setting the scene before we really move onto the campaign itself So for those readers expecting action and intrigue from page one will not find it to their liking personally speaking I was hooked right from the beginning and didn’t feel daunted in any way Wexler makes the point of giving the cast of characters well established histories to work off of before moving on to the book and I was so smitten with and focused on getting to know the cast that the intro and boring bit of the book passed me right by SettingThe world of Khander is a desert setting which could clearly be compared to a Middle Eastern country a few centuries ago which is something that we rarely see in fantasy novels unless specifically stated as being an Eastern setting fantasy The culture is also explored in some depth here and a lot of thought has clearly been put into the battle seuences and the tactics involved with volley firing and the formations of units being a freuent element It is all just too bloody beautiful to read Now here's the thing over and over again we’ve seen some pretty epic and incredible fantasy settings which kudos but some authors never really take into account any of the hazards or how it affects the characters which sometimes brings into uestion the plausibility of the narrative as the setting never really seems to slow the characters down But let's face it fantasy or not a certain measure of believability goes a long wayWith The Thousand Names the setting plays an active role in the book as the characters have to deal with the desert terrain which becomes a problem oftentimesAnd to that I say hats off to WexlerCharactersIt is now obvious that I loved everything The plot movement the military aspects and battle scenes the pacing throughout the narrative and the world But what I loved even were the characters The incredible well written and utterly convincing cast of characters who were just spot on✨ The WomenFirst and foremost let's highlight one of the best parts of the novel THE WOMEN While TTN boasts three main protagonists it also features not just one but four key female characters all of whom are in my humble opinion incredibly narrated They're so remarkable and written in a way that doesn’t feel artificial or out of place especially considering that it's a military based fantasy setting ✨ WinterThe book has three main protagonists among whom are our two main POV protagonists who share a third person narrative First is Winter Ihernglassr a woman masuerading as a man and who has escaped a turbulent past to become a successful soldierI’m very particular when it comes to my ladies in fantasy As much as I love women being portrayed strongly as well they should be I also want to see a realistic character who not only is tough but is also HUMAN who has vulnerabilities and can also fall get back up like the rest of us Often times and this is largely seen in YA fantasies in particular authors are so set on writing the “strong female character” who’s too perfect in all her ways and too good to fail that they make them come off as almost robotic I hate it I don’t need a robot I need a tough determined woman who can hold her groundSo my fear when I started this was that Winter would be portrayed as exactly that The perfect female with unparalleled warrior skills Thankfully so that wasn't the case because as intelligent and determined as she is she also has her moments of weakness and self doubt but we also get to witness her bravery compassion and decency I have to say as female POV characters go she was one of the best ones I've read about in a good while✨ MarcusThen there’s captain Marcus D’Ivoire😍 a simple man with honest ideals who as the campaign progresses is forced to take sides and still uphold his values to deal with a Colonel that will test his patience and his loyalty towards his friends and country His struggles are finely portrayed and you can't but cheer both Winter and Marcus as both strive to do what's right with what they're given for their regiment and their cause I Loved Them All✨ JanusFinally there’s the enigmatic and intriguing Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich who is seen only through Marcus’ POV He’s been described by some as Holmes like in matters of strategy and behaviour He is one hell of a formidable character who makes for a fascinating read and I truly hope he gets his own perspective turn in the future books because I haven’t gotten nearly enough of him and I NEED MOREOn the surface the cast might seem like traditional fantasy stereotypes that we’ve seen time and time again but Wexler really fleshes out the characters making them memorable flawed likeableAnd though they do adhere to fantasy soldier tropes the author gives them Marcus and Winter in particular very discerning personas Thereby making them very intriguing and fun ones to root for As POV characters go they are gems to read about Now as much as I absolutely loved this book as a resident nitpicker I feel like it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also point out some just a few drawbacks that in no way hindered my reading experience but feel are worth noting✨ The other sideAside from a few minor POV seuences throughout the book we rarely get to see the Khandar point of view All major perspectives all of two lol are from the characters on one side of the war and we never really learn much of the other side Their side could have been better fleshed out so that we the readers could form our own opinions as opposed to being told one side is just bad I hope that future books give the Khandar a stronger voice beyond just the prologue interstitials and epilogue It felt like I was being told which side I should be on and which I should despise because they weren't objectively presentedIn addition to that there's a sense of predictability in the outcome of the conflict as it's evident what race is appearing to be the technologically superior one But this is after all book one of five so I’m gonna hold my tongue and judgment until the very end ✨ WinterI love Winter no secret there But as much as I liked seeing her evolution from a common foot soldier into a higher rank which is awesome I felt like things just kept going too smoothly for her be it the uick promotions or the convenient outcomes to the problems she faced I would’ve liked to have seen dramatic? conflict and resolutions play out ✨ The political intrigueWhile some of the political intrigue has a place in the book others such as the Voldani king’s fate feels out of place It felt out of sync with events and very removed from what is going onOther than that folks it is oh so marvellousPSTHIS WAS NOT MEAN TO BE THIS LONG smh The Thousand Names didn't just deliver as a fantasy novel but rather a military fantasy novel It was all about tactics strategy survival and betrayal All of those elements intertwined to produce this spectacular novel The premise was a bit unclear in terms of the goal of the novel It merely introduced the readers to the two main characters who helped shape this into the perfection that it is What made up for the unclear premise would be the unpredictable plot Everything was not as it seemed to be The twist and turns would make you want to read everything at once The plot proved to be one of the most interesting ones of its respective genreWexler created two unforgettable and genuinely likable characters Winter and Marcus had different characteristics but when put together they worked great Winter was a girl who had to pretend to be a man to be able to serve the military What made her identity unrecognizable to the others would be as clear as the premise While it could be perceived as gimmicky the gimmick worked out very well Marcus on the other hand was a respectable member of the military He showed a bit of weakness in the beginning of the novel but managed to redeem himself than once Aside from the two amazing ones the other minor characters were just as interesting Janus was a great leader and proved himself till the end of the novel Other minor characters were also very entertaining Very much character driven but the plot on the other hand didn't disappointThe betrayals and revelations in the end were not just unpredictable but they were also very well written Wexler put a lot of thought in those as the twists in the end affected the plot greatly It wasn't forced and just placed there for the sake of having an unseen change of events but he wrote those in order to further develop the plot even If you're looking for a novel with unexpected turn of events that would leave your mouth hanging open then this novel is for youHighly recommended to Military and war fantasy fans uite a few people had been calling this flintlock fantasy so if you're a fan of that then you must give this one a try The Thousand Names hasn't been given the right amount of praise and attention it truly deserves but great novels will always be discovered and cherished sooner or later Remarkable characters promising plot and exuisite writing The ending hinted a lot of promising things for the seuel and surely the author has a lot to offer in the next few novels of the Shadow Campaigns series For some time now I’ve been co moderating a fantasy group on Goodreads One of the troubles with attempting to be an active group co moderator are monthly reads Ultimately only a few read the selections in a timely enough fashion to discuss so I’ve been making it a personal challenge to read the books chosen The Thousand Names won our ’round the world fantasy’ African setting poll so I dutifully ordered it from the library While it began promisingly enough it soon segued into a detailed military fantasy one of my least favorite fantasy sub genres uite honestly it’s probably a toss up between that and romance heavy UFNames begins with a gathering of various power factions in the city of Khandar The resistance has pushed the white devils back and are debating the next move Led by the chief of the civil authority Jaffa other guests include the head priest of the Redeemers a new faction of a militant religious order; the general of the army; and the Steel Ghost the mysterious leader of the desert nomads Shortly after the meeting Jaffa surreptitiously meets with the Holy Mother She casually commands one of her followers to interrogate a waif caught following him to their meeting–after she was first killed Its the first promise that something magical and fantastical is happeningMy interested piued I decided to read onPart One begins with a small group of the aforementioned white devils on guard duty One is on the receiving end of harsh chaffing and the reader soon discovers that Private Winter is a woman in disguise Scene switch to a captain in the same army Marcus d’Ivorie as he rides to meet the ships that are either bringing reinforcements or taking his men home He greets Count Colonel Janus the new leader of the army and fan of plain speaking Janus is clearly an eccentric genius although Marcus has his suspicionsThe remainder of the book is largely between narratives focused on Winter and Marcus sometimes within the same chapter along with a couple scattered short pieces from various others introduced in the first chapter Because Wexler devotes significant chunks of both text and action to each the switches between characters are smooth although sometimes they end on a bit of a cliff hanger as a new event unfolds Resolving one issue but ending with lead in to another was a nice device that kept me interestedUnfortunately for me however Wexler has a deep love for military detail His introductory acknowledgement thanks someone who introduced him to “historical war gaming” and the jacket binding mentions “When not planning Shadow Campaigns he wrangles computers paints tiny soldiers” His enthusiasm shows in the plotting The majority of the book focuses on movements of the invaders against the Khandar alliance using the dual perspectives of Winter and Marcus for insights into engagements of both the grunt view and leadership Wexler writes well enough that I was initially engaged especially as Winter started to shine However the sheer overwhelming attention to the detail and movements is too much to sustain my interest We’re talking Name of the Wind thickness here at slightly over 500 pages Really given my interest in war strategy is largely indifferent it’s a mark of skill that Wexler had my interest at all In Wexler’s defense he does use a variety of engagements from ambush to a targeted strike to all out battle which brings additional interestThe mystical elements begin to come into play when Winter discovers a daughter of the Holy Mother I won’t say any to avoid spoilers but one of the disappointments for me as a fantasy reader is that events and explanations relating to the magical system come principally at the end of the book It feels a little tacked on especially as it results in significant political and personal cliffhangersCharacterization is thorough and well done If perhaps a little stereotypical the familiarity gives an anchor point to the story and allows for a tiny bit of boundary pushing Wexler does a nice job with the female viewpoint although he over emphasizes Winter’s obsession with a tragic relationship incident I also appreciated a nice twist or two relating to characterizationThematically I can’t help but be a little disappointed by lost potential created from the opening scene of the defender’s situation followed by a focus on the invaders Wexler largely leaves the morals and ethics of invasion and defense aside except for a token nod to commanders prohibiting raping and looting Marcus wrestles significantly with personal loyalty issues but I think any ethical issues on the part of the invaders were largely clear cut The Holy Mother offered potential for ethical issues of cultural preservation but those were left mostly with the cliff hangerOverall it was a bit of a miss for me largely because of my own genre preference and the lack of finesse in ethical issues and characterization I think fans of The Deeds of Paksenarrion would enjoy it as well as anyone who enjoys detailed troop engagementsFour stars for writing skill and military detail two stars for personal enjoyment so I’ll average it out and call it three I have had my eye on The Shadow Campaigns series for a while now The flintlock fantasy genre is one that really seems to appeal to my tastes as a reader I wouldn't refer to myself as a history buff by any means but history has always fascinated me Mr Wexler has managed to give The Thousand Names a 17th century or early 18th century feel with the muskets cannons and military atmosphere This managed to make my inner historical nerd jump with glee every time a fight broke out But that is not all that makes this book fun and entertaining The characters are well developed the world building has a middle eastern feel to it and the humor had me laughing out loud throughout the bookThe characters are what really made this story thrive for me The storyline mainly follows two POV's Captain Marcus d'Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass Both are members of the Vordan army but have come to their current positions through very different circumstances Marcus attended the war college in Vordan and chose his assignment in Khandar after graduation while Winter is trying to run as far as she can from a troubled past I enjoyed both characters but Winter's storyline was probably the highlight of the book for me She is undoubtedly one of the most interesting female characters I have read in uite a while Mr Wexler makes sure to detail her past and present struggles Being one of the only female soldiers and seeing what she has to go through but still managing to persevere made it easy to cheer for her Colonel Janus was also a great character While we don't get any of the story from his POV his interactions with Marcus and Winter really brought his character to life almost just as much He is intelligent and a bit eccentric at times but his personality added some good humor and diversity to the dialogueThe Vordanian army posted in Khandar are pretty much considered a group of outcasts These are the troublemakers and lowest ranking soldiers in the army So they have been sent over the ocean to be out of the way but still serve their country They're job is to train the Khandar soldiers and support the prince but a group of religious fanatics know as the Redeemers send the Vordan army and prince running for their lives The Redeemers overrun the capital city Ashe Katarion and take command of the Khandar soldiers They also have the backing of the local desert tribes and their mysterious leader the Steel Ghost The Vordan army is left leaderless and in a foreign country So the king sends fresh and untested new recruits along with a new leader Colonel Janus He not only intends to fight back against the Redeemers he has every intention to win But what seems like a cut and dry war to defeat the Redeemers and put the prince back on the throne turns into a search for a power that could tear the Vordan's apartThe setup for the next book was done perfectly Mr Wexler leaves the reader with enough information to know that some big decisions are about to be made Also the epilogue reminded me of an ending to a Marvel movie where halfway through the credits you get that extra scene that makes you all the anxious for the next movie Yeah That's this book Luckily this series is finished so I don't have to wait to start the next book There were a couple of minor issues I had but nothing that took away from my overall enjoyment There are a few small sections in the book where we get a POV from certain Khandarian characters I thought this change of pace was done well but would like to have seen of these sections Also the magic system is not explained very well I assume it is because there are a limited amount of magical scenes in this book but I would have liked a better understanding of certain scenes Hopefully they will be abundant in book 2 and discussed in greater detail Like I said just minor things that stood out to me but did keep me from giving this 5 stars So if your looking for a good military fantasy read with memorable characters gritty humor and a well developed story look no further than The Thousand Names I have found one of my go to fantasy genres in flintlock fantasy so I will be continuing with book 2 The Shadow Throne right away 45 stars Actual rating 35 stars MethinksIntroducingthe Murderous Shrimps Want to Dance then again Maybe not Super Crappy Express Non Review MSWtDtaMnSCENR™➽ Murderous shrimps want to dance because✔ Cool military stuff and battles and war strategy and stuff✔ A little magic✔ Great cast of intriguing characters✔ Traitors and scumbags and assholes oh my✔ Both male and female POVs✔ Scrumpalicious final chapters✔ Slightly orgasmic book coverTime to dance and stuff➽ Then again maybe not because✘ Way too much Lots of excessively detailed military stuff and battles and war strategy and stuff Yawn✘ Too little magic Sigh✘ Slooooooooow pace Yawn Yawn✘ 529 pages that most times sometimes feel like 10000 Yawn Yawn YawnTime to look somewhat pissed off and stuff» And the moral of this MSWtDtaMnSCENR™ is this book would have been slightly glorious had there been less marginally boring martial stuff and adeuately awesome fantasy stuff But there wasn't and there wasn't so it wasn't Ha view spoilerED And stuff hide spoiler The steps of the novel echoed through the throne room The book king watched as the large tome took a bow infront of himPlease rise so I can see your beautiful cover said the book kingThe book did as it was told The high noon sun basking its front it looked up to his monarchI was told that you'd like to be ranked for the book army Is that so? asked the kingYes my liegeFrom seeing you enter I assume you have a good pacing You're posture is well balanced That's a good start But if you want to fight in my army you need martial knowledge How acuainted are you with fighting techniues? inuired the book kingI'm a military fantasy flint lock sub genre In me you're going to find epic battles military strategies tactical maneuvers on the battle field and the cruelties of war from the grunt perspective said the novel His voice rang loud and proud through the royal hallImpressive said the book king But being a high ranked member is than just knowing your military How are your plots and characters?I present two very interesting characters I tell the story of Marcus d’Ivoire a captain in the Vordani colonial army His forces support a prince in a remote desert kingdomWith the army is also the young woman Winter Ihernglass who disguises herself as a man to be able to fight in the Vordani forcesBoth of their fates change when a new colonel is assigned to their troops There is mystery subterfuge action and tales of friendship and betrayalVery well My reports say that you performed uite excellent in all categories and are a delight to spend time with I think we need of those inspiring novels in leading roles within the army So please state your name for the record said the kingThe Thousand Names said the novelHereby I pronounce The Thousand Names a five star general of the book army May you be an example for other books of your genre Dismissed decreed the book king A great explosive FlintlockMilitary fantasy debut that left me begging for by the end of itSpeaking of flintlock fantasy the first thing that came to the reader’s mind would probably be The Powder Mage by Brian McClellan which I loved but I have a good feeling just from the first book out of five in The Shadow Campaigns series that it will eventually topple The Powder MageIf you truly want to know what the premise of the book is about I strongly suggest you to just read the blurb of the book; it’s spoiler free and enticing enough The Thousand Names is a military fantasy reminiscent of Napoleonic Wars with desert settings and the first half of the book focused mostly on a single campaign; this first half is also why the book didn’t receive 5 stars from me It’s not because of the slow start or because the plot isn’t engaging but it’s because there’s way too many attention on the actions even though the two main characters haven’t received enough characterizations for me to care about yet; especially Marcus If you feel the same as me during your time of reading the first half of this book I strongly urge you to persevere The last half made up for its lack of characterizations in the first half wonderfully Marcus’s and Winter’s characterizations and background are slowly revealed and by the end of this book I’m already very invested in the journey of both the main and side characters “Can you be haunted by someone who isn’t dead?” I also have to praise Django for writing such a well written female characters especially the main female character Winter Although Winter is pretty much a badass version of Mulan I found her situations and personalities in my fantasy read a uniue experience It’s also evident that not only Django did a lot of research on her character the action scenes received the same treatment; maybe even My biggest praise of this book however will have to go to the intricately written battle scenes They’re uniue in an epic fantasy series as Django centered the action scenes towards musketry and strategy rather than its magic system There’s some magic at play here for sure but they’re minimum and when they do appear because of their rarity they have an effect of making the plot engaging Most of the battle scenes feature an infantryhollow suare formation that’s heavily used in Napoleonic Wars like this picture belowPicture A depiction of a Napoleonic era British infantry suare at the Battle of uatre Bras Belgium 1815 Picture was taken from WikipediaThe Thousand Names is a debut that’s filled with great characterizations gradually introduced world building and engrossing action scenes The first book ended with a highly well written climax seuences that at the same time also serves as a great setup for the seuel; because of that I’m going to continue immediately to the second book of the series right after posting this review All in all this is truly a wonderful addition to the flintlock fantasy genre that every fan of the genre should try You can find this and the rest of my Adult EpicHigh Fantasy Sci Fi reviews at BookNest