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The Thousand Names by Django Wexler ARC {3 Stars}

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler is a military fantasy about a soldier with a secret, an officer just trying to keep his men alive, and a Colonel with an uncanny mind for strategy and luck. The Thousand Names is actually the first military fantasy that I’ve read and reminded me a lot of court intrigue-based fantasy, except with battles instead of court scenes ;-). The Thousand Names is pretty light on the fantasy for the first two-thirds, and taught me that I’m not overly interested in military plots, but the series has promise.

Note: I borrowed a copy of The Thousand Names. Some things may have changed in the final version.

This book has adult content.
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler ARC {3 Stars}

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns #1)
Published by Roc on July 2nd, 2013
Genres: Adult, Military Fantasy
Page Length: 528 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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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.

3 Stars

Strengths:

  • Since The Thousand Names is a military fantasy, the war between two cultures plays a large role in the plot. The battle scenes are detailed quite elaborately and I easily believed the tension of the battles and strategizing between battles. As with war in the real world, war in The Thousand Names is gory and merciless, though I didn’t find the gore too much for my weak stomach to handle ;-).
  • The Thousand Names follows two main characters, Marcus and Winter, but has a surprisingly diverse cast outside of those two characters. As you quickly learn with Winter, there are more women around than anyone realizes, since Winter is a woman who has disguised herself as a man to join the army. Winter also fancies women over men, which is always refreshing to see slipped in to fantasy.
  • By the end of The Thousand Names, I had already decided that I would be giving the second book a try, since things get quite epic in the last third. Given the direction the plot goes, I have a lot of hope for the second book appealing to me more than the first.
  • There is magic in The Thousand Names, though it takes over half the book to show up and is still rather mysterious by the end. What magic is used, however, is beautifully described and very cool to imagine.

Weaknesses:

  • After reading The Thousand Names, I’m quite confident that military stories are not for me. The first half of The Thousand Names is nearly all battles with very little character development sprinkled between descriptions of troop movements. If you like reading about the details of battle strategy, The Thousand Names is the book for you.
  • Despite two very promising main characters, I felt very little connection to Winter or Marcus for the first half of the book since I knew almost nothing about them. There is very little dialogue that reflects on who these characters really are, so I didn’t really care if they got injured or killed because I felt nothing for them.
  • I think my biggest frustration with The Thousand Names is the lack of really any context or answers along the way. We know from the beginning that there is a new Colonel and he wants to go chase down the barbarians. However, there is clearly something else going on as well, which would have been interesting if I had gotten enough hints to actually have any idea what is actually going on. By the end of The  Thousand Names, I still can’t really tell you what The Thousand Names itself is, despite references to it….
  • This last point is a weird thing to discuss for me, but I think it must be said. I was thrilled to see a lesbian/bisexual/not straight female character in a fantasy. However, I was forced to question why exactly Winter was attracted to women when her more erotic dreams are the only sex scenes included in The Thousand Names. There are other characters that have sex, but they heterosexual sex is not described to nearly the level that Winter’s fantasies about her previous lover are. I can’t help but feel that Winter was made a lesbian just for gratuitous woman-on-woman erotic dreams….

Summary:

The Thousand Names is a book that strays from my comfort zone and I’m glad that I read it in the end. I’m excited for the rest of the series and hoping that there is more fantasy in the second book and fewer descriptions of battles. Once I finally got to know Winter and Marcus, I found that I liked them as characters, I just wish that I could have gotten details about the main characters and the motivation of the plot sooner.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Huh, I tend to like military books well enough, but I also need some character development and world building thrown in there. I am certainly intrigued by the military aspect, host of characters, lesbian MC and the magic…even though it shows up quite late in the game – so I think I might still check this one out anyway. I feel like reading your review better prepared me for what’s in store though!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland…My Profile

  2. I’m really starting to love your adult book reviews! They’re pretty funny.

    I think military strategy is fun if you’re playing Risk or actually in the military, but otherwise it’s super boring. Even in Game of Thrones, the battle scenes kinda bore me. I’m much more of a fantasy/romance/drama llama type. I love me some drama llamas.

    The way you described the non-heterosexual character makes me think you’re right – sounds pretty fetishized. I guess the question is should we be grateful she has that distinction at all or should we be upset it’s played that way?
    Kate @ The Book Bee recently posted…WISHING FOR WEDNESDAY: July 2nd, 2014My Profile

    • Haha, thanks! It really depends on my mood when I’m typing up the review but I do tend to get a bit silly sometimes ;-) Yeah, I actually haven’t finished the currently published Song of Ice and Fire books since I can’t get into the battles and court intrigue. I likes me magic the best though, hehe.

      Ugh, I know right, should I be happy that there is a lesbian in a fantasy at all? I’m going to keep hoping for some better representation I think, sigh.

  3. Ok you tamped down my excitement there a bit – I’m still totally going to give this one a go because I know Mogsy lovers it. hehe. Too much fighting and wars can indeed be bad.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: Midnight Thief by Livia BlackburneMy Profile

    • I’m sorry D: I had been so excited to read it and then was a bit bored :( Always good to try yourself though!

  4. Heavy on the military and (potentially) has a non-straight character solely for the purpose of including graphic female sex scenes? Yeah, probably not for me. Sounds too serious for one thing, and I can’t stand when authors throw in something that doesn’t seem to fit in with the plot/characters for the sake of some external motive. Even if it’s just a sentence or paragraph, I usually remember it at book’s end and it often sours my impression of the writing. :(
    Kel recently posted…Discussion: Adult Summer Reading ProgramMy Profile

    • Yeah, if you’re not a fan of the military plots, this would probably be quite boring. There are lots of limbs coming off and deaths…. Quite gruesome at times

  5. Interesting. I’ve yet to read this one, but I have enjoyed a number of military fantasies so it definitely appeals to me. I agree, it does seem a bit odd that the only sex scenes are girl on girl dreams. But, maybe it’s because the other events happened, so there wasn’t as much reason to relay the details? But, I guess the same could be said about the dreams. It could be mentioned she had them, with out the details. I dunno.One of these days I will read it myself and can form my own opinions on it then.
    Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…Tower Lord by Anthony RyanMy Profile

    • If you like military fantasies then you should definitely check it out since I think it really excels for its genre!

  6. Book two has a lot of strong female characters – I hope you’ll enjoy it! I feel the books are two completely different beasts though, book one definitely skews strongly towards military fantasy though book two has more of a tightly drawn focus around a revolution. If you’re a history buff, I think you’d appreciate the sequel more! I thought both books were amazing in their own way, but book one was more to my tastes. Military fantasy’s not for everyone…but I realized I kinda liked it :)

    • Hm, what kind of history buff stuff is there? >.> I’m not a historical fiction fan, but historical fantasy can be fun ;-). I’m really looking forward to the new female characters :D

  7. I’ve been hearing rave reviews about this one, so it’s nice to hear another opinion! Diverse characters are something that I really appreciate in fantasy novels, but I’m not a fan of sensationalism (who is?). It’s good to know about that going in, although I’ll try to reserve judgement until I’ve read it. I’m still pretty excited to read this one since it’s going to be my first big military fantasy!

    • Woot! I was excited to try out the genre as well, but probably should have realized that the battles wouldn’t be as interesting to me, oh well. I’m still really hopeful about the second book though, so we’ll see :D

  8. Susan Gourley says:

    I read this book a while ago and I liked it enough to decide to read the second which is out now. Like you, it was the last part of the book that convinced me to continue with the series. Hopefully the second book will grab me from the beginning.

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