Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Thousand Names

While this blog has primarily become a source for much of my Magic the Gathering musings, I still am very much interested in the world of fantasy fiction. While I have taken the time to review some of my favorite fantasy authors, I have yet to ever write a book review for my blog. So what better time to start than now?

In particular, I am always interested to see what is selling in the fantasy market, particularly by a new author who hasn't made a name for him or herself yet. The Thousand Names, by Django Wexler, is just such a book. (As an aside - you know an author is new to the scene when he has yet to have an entry at Wikipedia).

The novel follows the story of two officers assigned to a colonial garrison in a remote part of an empire. One is a gentleman among rogues and scoundrels, the other a young girl masquerading as a soldier. Save for brief interludes between sections, the book alternates between these two perspectives. Their lives are forever changed when a new colonel arrives to take command. Under his military genius, they undertake an impossible campaign to recapture a rebellious city. But along the way, it soon becomes clear that this conflict is overshadowed by a struggle to take possession of a power to reshape the world and bring the empire to its knees.

The Thousand Names is unique in its setting, its historical period, and its attention to military detail. Rather than the typical medieval Europe, this reads more like a Napoleonic campaign in Africa, complete with cannon, cavalry, and muskets. It is decidedly low-magic, but tips off the reader very early that there is a supernatural element to what appears to be a mundane military conflict. The characters are vivid, unique, and interesting, each with secrets that are slowly revealed as the story progresses. The story itself is well-crafted, doesn't get bogged down in the middle, and balances action, intrigue, and character conflict.

The Thousand Names is highly recommended. If you enjoy a more historical, low-magic fantasy story rich with details about military campaigns of the Napoleonic era, this is the perfect book for you. But there is enough here that almost any avid fantasy reader will enjoy this book.

But don't take my word for it. Check out the excellent reviews posted on Amazon.com, and buy yourself a copy today! You won't regret it.

Finally, if you're still on the fence, you can check out for free a short story that serves as a prequel of sorts to The Thousand Names, although obviously it isn't required prior reading. Check it out here!

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