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The Shadow Campaigns #1

The Thousand Names

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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.

513 pages, Hardcover

First published July 2, 2013

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About the author

Django Wexler

47 books2,979 followers
Django Wexler graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,405 reviews
Profile Image for Django Wexler.
Author 47 books2,979 followers
March 19, 2013
Well, *I* obviously enjoyed it, or I wouldn't have written it. Hopefully other people will too.
Profile Image for Mpauli.
155 reviews458 followers
November 1, 2014
The steps of the novel echoed through the throne room. The book king watched as the large tome took a bow infront of him.

"Please rise, so I can see your beautiful cover," said the book king.

The book did as it was told. The high noon sun basking its front it looked up to his monarch.

"I was told that you'd like to be ranked for the book army. Is that so?" asked the king.

"Yes, my liege."

"From 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 acquainted are you with fighting techniques?" inquired the book king.

"I'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 hall.

"Impressive," said the book king. "But being a high-ranked member is more 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 kingdom.
With the army is also the young woman Winter Ihernglass, who disguises herself as a man to be able to fight in the Vordani forces.
Both of their fates change, when a new colonel is assigned to their troops. There is mystery, subterfuge, action and tales of friendship and betrayal."

"Very well. My reports say that you performed quite excellent in all categories and are a delight to spend time with. I think we need more of those inspiring novels in leading roles within the army. So please, state your name for the record," said the king.

"The Thousand Names," said the novel.

"Hereby 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.
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.2k followers
October 15, 2017
A great explosive Flintlock/Military fantasy debut that left me begging for more by the end of it.

Speaking 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 Mage.

If 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 more badass version of Mulan, I found her situations and personalities in my fantasy read a unique 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 more.

My biggest praise of this book, however, will have to go to the intricately written battle scenes. They’re unique 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 more engaging. Most of the battle scenes feature an infantry/hollow square formation that’s heavily used in Napoleonic Wars, like this picture below.

Picture: A depiction of a Napoleonic-era British infantry square at the Battle of Quatre Bras, Belgium, 1815. (Picture was taken from Wikipedia)

The 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 sequences that at the same time, also serves as a great setup for the sequel; 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 Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
602 reviews725 followers
November 22, 2018
I'm in love.

I 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 anymore. 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.

Furthermore, 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.


TTN 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 say.
The 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 quite 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.


The 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 sequences and the tactics involved with volley firing and the formations of units being a frequent 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 question 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 way.
With 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 oftentimes .
And to that, I say, hats off to Wexler.


It 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 more were the characters. The incredible, well written and utterly convincing cast of characters who were just spot on.

The Women:

First 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.


The 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 masquerading as a man and who has escaped a turbulent past to become a successful soldier.

I’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 ground.
So 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.


Then 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.

Finally, 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 MORE.

On 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, likeable.
And 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 side:

Aside from a few minor POV sequences 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 presented.
In 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.


I 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 quick promotions or the convenient outcomes to the problems she faced. I would’ve liked to have seen more (dramatic?) conflict and resolutions play out.

��� The political intrigue:

While 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 on.

Other than that folks, it is, oh so marvellous!

Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
347 reviews923 followers
April 14, 2020
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Wow I loved this!

I 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 star.

There 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.


These 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 me!

I 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 & captivating.

This one is sort of difficult for me to explain why I loved it so much, but I found myself making every excuse to read it.

I even penciled in an extra gym day just so I could listen!

The Thousand Names is a glimpse into a small sliver of events that hint at a much larger, much more consequential 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!
Profile Image for carol..
1,516 reviews7,719 followers
January 26, 2018
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 (quite honestly, it’s probably a toss-up between that and romance-heavy UF).

Names 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 happening.

My interested piqued, I decided to read on.

Part 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 suspicions.

The 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 interested.

Unfortunately 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 interest.

The mystical elements begin to come into play when Winter discovers a daughter of the Holy Mother. I won’t say any more 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 cliffhangers.

Characterization 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 characterization.

Thematically, 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 more potential for ethical issues of cultural preservation, but those were left mostly with the cliff-hanger.

Overall, 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 engagements.

Four stars for writing skill and military detail, two stars for personal enjoyment, so I’ll average it out and call it three.

Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews615 followers
June 16, 2015
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 genre.

Wexler 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 more 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 disappoint.

The 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 more. If you're looking for a novel with unexpected turn of events that would leave your mouth hanging open, then this novel is for you.

Highly recommended to Military and war fantasy fans. Quite 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 exquisite writing. The ending hinted a lot of promising things for the sequel, and surely the author has a lot more to offer in the next few novels of the Shadow Campaigns series.
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews132 followers
April 4, 2018
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 book.

The 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 quite 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 dialogue.

The 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 apart.

The 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 more 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 more 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 more 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.

4.5 stars ****

August 17, 2017
Actual rating: 3.5 stars. Methinks.

Introducing…the 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 cover.

Time 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 10,000. Yawn Yawn Yawn.

Time 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 more adequately awesome fantasy stuff. But there wasn't and there wasn't, so it wasn't. Ha.

Profile Image for Haïfa.
185 reviews178 followers
December 12, 2017
You can find this review and more at Booksprens.

The Thousand Names is exactly what I came to expect of Flintlock Fantasy: Colonials, a dusty setting, military tactics and old, dangerous magic. A fantastic, exotic and intriguing combo!

The story takes place in Khandar, an arid colony where the dregs (with a few exceptions) of the Vordanai army are sent (or rather "exiled") to keep the peace and support the local prince. A precarious alliance of zealous priests (the Redeemers) and desert warriors (the Voltarai), among others, stage a revolution that chase away the Colonials to the outer reaches of Khandar. The arrival of the mysterious and rather charismatic Count Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich to Khandar means either a long awaited trip back home for the beaten-up Colonial regiment or a full-scale war against the Khandarai coalition.

The Thousand Names is mainly told from two POVs: Senior Captain Marcus D'Ivoire, a Vordanai officer who, for mysterious reasons, actually chose to serve in Khandar and Winter Ihernglass, a female ranker (disguised as a man) who does her best to pass unnoticed. Some minor POVs were also featured in the epilogue/prologue and interludes to provide a look at the on-going events from “the other side”.

The book started with a pretty intriguing, occult and creepy feel, before completely changing direction and tone and focusing on the military life and tactics. It was compelling to watch both sides of an army: the mundane actions and life of the common ranker and the sensitive decision makings of high-ranked officers. It was also funny to see that a huge part of the officers’ “work” is done by hard-working subordinates who are always alert and seemingly need no sleep or rest! XD

Square formation. From Napoleon Total War game.

The military drills, formations and tactics were surprisingly fascinating to read! Partly because they were obviously meticulously researched and documented by Wexler. And mostly because, they were infused with enough tension and anticipation that you feel compelled to read until you reach the end of the drill or the fight! Wexler has definitely a talent for writing vivid battles, mixing artillery, line or square formations and heavy cavalry, and his story almost reads like a novelized rendition of some historical battle at times.

But despite this point being one of the book’s strongest assets, I believe it also might dampen a few readers’ interest: this first book is indeed pretty heavy on military jargon and battle sequences. Besides, a lot of fighting happened early on, before you had time to actually know and care about the characters’ fates.

“But, you keep talking about the military aspect of the book, where is the “Fantasy” side in all of this?” one might ask! Well, to be honest, magic was less present than bayonets and gunpowder in TTN but was definitely no less important! The series is after all named “The Shadow Campaigns” and you would guess, pretty early on, that the real, ultimate war would be one initiated off stage, with various shadowy players already starting to place their pawns and weave their schemes.

Character-wise, I think there is still a lot of room for growth and for secondary characters to gain more shape and impact. The most interesting protagonist must be Janu,s despite him not having his own chapters (which made him all the more intriguing and added a lot of mystery and unpredictability to the plot). I’m not sure how to feel about the other main characters though. While Winter had a steady and pretty inspiring development, most of the others alternated brilliant moves and poor decision after poor decision. The sheer cowardice, stupidity or obliviousness some of them regularly manifested made it pretty hard to care about them.

The Thousand Names is definitely a brilliant debut, peeps! Despite the few issues I had with the characterization and the pacing around the halfway mark, the book is very well written and clearly showed a huge amount of research and dedication! This is definitely not a story about good vs. evil but is rather about all the shades in-between. You’ll keep wondering if there is even a good or a wrong side and you’ll keep questioning the characters’ motives and agendas! Considering how Wexler wrapped things up at the end, this book could almost be a standalone, if not for the mystical arc to be developed and explored. I can’t wait to discover more about the Thousand Names, the old magic and the different half-hidden players in the sequels!
Profile Image for Solseit.
297 reviews73 followers
February 6, 2017
I liked this book so much that I needed to make another review - a gush review - on my blog!
Let 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 quite 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 1700/1800 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 scenes.

The 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 fight, my heart was pounding, it almost felt like the shots were landing next to me. I was blown away by Django Wexler's ability to bring me in the middle of the battle.
Yet, the story is so much more than a military campaign ; it is a story that unfolds mystery at a fairly slow yet right pace.
I do not want to spoil anything for reader who did not start this series yet; this book will unfold surprise after surprise and you will find it hard to stop reading.

The characters - primarily you have two points of view throughout the book - are perfect. Sure, one can like Winter's story more than Marcus' or viceversa but overall, the characters in this book feel authentic. Also, you will be surprised by how many twists there are for each and everyone of them. I ended up loving Janus and Winter above everybody else but it was a difficult pick; even Davis was so perfectly detailed !

Do yourself a favor and start reading this book; you would be missing a great deal of fantasy telling without this book on your read list!
Profile Image for Norah Una Sumner.
848 reviews447 followers
May 31, 2016
4.5 stars

When you're studying for your college entrance exam and you manage to read one book per week. At least it was a damn good one! Really needed some good ol' fantasy in my life.

Me: *sees multiple POV, male and female*


Me: *worships the trope of girl escaping the dark past & joining the army as a man*


Me: *realizes that the female protagonist is, in fact, gay*


Me: *sees that there's some cool flippin' magic included and some shady characters*


This book was really good. I shall read the sequel as soon as I have the time. Wanna know what happens next!
Profile Image for ♛ may.
805 reviews3,775 followers
August 31, 2018

so this took me a freaking long time but hey I DID IT!!! hurray for me
also the audiobook is like 22 hours??? why

anyways, this was good though i lowkey feel like im not smart enough to understand these crazy "developed" plots like im just sitting here ignoring it as the audiobook plays while thinking about how many pages and chapters could have been omitted in order to make this more easy to understand - for me, a peasant™

but like i got the whole concept?? i just didnt get why it had to be so drawn out. thats epic fantasy for you i guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

anywho it was action packed and there were a lot of interesting topics featured and discussed (especially for fantasy) and im sure theres more developing themes and plot twists to come but i kinda felt underwhelmed by how everything went down

the first half bored me to sleep but the second half of the book was more fast paced and engaging and the final few chapters almost made it a 4 star rating for me

will i continue with this series??? who really knows. but i did get all the audiobooks so i might be back for the long haul

we'll see



attempt #2, pray for me y'all i wanna love this

~ again, super special thanks go to my bby, Mary for being an absolute gem and taking the time to help me navigate the high fantasy world and NOT HATING ME FOR PUTTING THIS OFF FOR LIKE AN ENTIRE YEAR ily ~
Profile Image for Conor.
148 reviews314 followers
September 28, 2014
4.5 Stars

The Thousand Names was an awesome debut filled with gripping action, intriguing mysteries and fascinating characters. Featuring a cool ‘flintlock fantasy’ setting this book chronicles the twists and turns of a spectacular military campaign fought against seemingly hopeless odds. Woven neatly into this story are interesting mysteries, strange magic and great characters.

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Ranker Winter Ihernglass are part of the ‘Old Colonials’, a ragtag force of rejects serving out a virtual exile on a forgotten-about border of the Vordanai Empire. However when a maelstrom of religious fanaticism sweeps across the desert country and a mysterious, brilliant colonel arrives to take command they are plunged into a seemingly hopeless war for reasons they couldn’t possibly understand.

The setting of this book was original and brilliantly developed. Following in the recent trend of ‘flintlock fantasy’ this was probably the best example of worldbuilding in the genre that I’ve seen. The focus on military action saw the importance of gunpowder, and it’s effect on war, come to the fore. I especially liked the comparisons between the current state of this world and how it was in the past (a medieval period that will sound familiar to fans of the genre *coughs* Westeros *Coughs*). Unlike the Powder Mage this book featured very little in the way of magic, especially in terms of explanation and definite rules. As a big fan of ‘low fantasy’ I really liked this. I found the focus on a realistic military campaign extremely gripping and I thought the presence of magic in the background contributed a sense of mystery and danger while hinting at the true scope of events.

From the start this book portrayed a military campaign in a gripping, unflinching way. From the tension of soldiers awaiting orders to the heart-pounding thrill of battle I found the portrayal of military action here to be extremely compelling. I also liked that the events managed to be very realistic and believable without any of the ridiculous features that often show up in fantasy books (massive army numbers, enemy forces controlled by the AI, unrealistic tactics etc). This campaign had a number of sudden skirmishes and devastating battles with an army’s desperate pursuit of a group of ferocious warriors into an unforgiving desert a particular highlight. This section provided some extremely tense, gripping scenes and brilliantly demonstrated Wexler’s ability to write believable storylines with minimal magic that were still compelling It was also really interesting to get the perspective of high ranking ‘bad guys’, which gave the reader an interesting insight into the overall situation and showed how their bickering and manoeuvring for power allowed the protagonists a slim chance of victory despite the seemingly hopeless situation.

There are 2 main POV characters in this book. Captain Marcus d’Ivoire is a loyal, dependable and competent officer in a difficult situation. I found him to be a likeable, well-written character who allowed the reader to view events without overshadowing them with his own personality. Winter Ihernglass is a ‘ranker’ (a grunt) in the colonials who remains aloof and is somewhat resented by other soldiers. And Winter is a woman! *Audience gasps, 18th century gentleman’s monocle falls off* Like Markus, Winter was likeable and well-written without being particularly memorable. Both POV characters were used to tell the story the plot needed them to rather than their own story. However I was somewhat disappointed that Winter’s role as a woman in a male-dominated military wasn’t explored. I talked a bit about my opinions on the role of women in the military (in SFF obvs, I keep all of my controversial political opinions for twitter) in my review for MOI and I found the idea of a woman trying to make her way in a male-dominated military really interesting, however I was ultimately disappointed by the way in which it was almost completely ignored. I also found myself eye-rolling at some of Winter’s exploits. Starting out in the lowest ranked position in the entire military she rapidly rises through the ranks, in every position she excels and regularly manages to find herself in perilous situations (in which her superiors/equals in the command structure prove to be complete morons) where only her quick thinking, inspirational leadership and bravery manage to save everyone. This became increasingly ludicrous as the story went on and was also somewhat disappointing in how it failed to tell the story of the ‘grunt’ that Winter was supposed to be, instead turning her into a Captain America style super-soldier.

While the main POV characters were likeable if unremarkable the supporting cast was filled with vivid, intriguing characters. The standout for me was the enigmatic and brilliant Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. He was in turns likeable, badass and unnerving. I was especially intrigued at the sense of moral ambiguity and mystery that surrounded him throughout the story, even at the end we still don’t know exactly what he wants. His relationship with the protagonists (especially his well-written friendship with Marcus) and his occasional geekery made him very likeable, however his mysterious agenda and occasional ruthlessness created a sense of unease and suspicion around him. I also thought Captain Roston was a great (albeit frequently annoying) character. In turns a selfish, whining drunk and a brave, heroic officer. His loyalty to his friends was moving . Other standouts were Feor, the compassionate priestess and Folsom, a stoic, capable soldier.

This was a stunning debut novel and a great read in general. Between wanting to see what happens to the characters I’ve come to care about in this one, wanting to uncover the mysteries that still abound in this story and wanting to see more gripping military action I’m definitely going to continue with this series.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,178 reviews2,570 followers
February 18, 2018
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group.

This Flintlock Fantasy, or what we used to call plain Adventure back in the day, was very good! It was intriguing, it had battles and politics, gods and demons, and the faith of the military men from noble born officers to urchins serving in the lowest ranks of the privets. A foreign army invades a country which has exiled its Prince and the Prince has turned to the invaders for help in order to regain the throne. This is the reason all are given for the invasion, but other, more sinister reasons are also among the reasons the Vordanai Colonials are going against a defending army outnumbering them 10:3. There are rumors the locals have magic and leaders who can employ it against the intruders, but the Vordanai try not to believe it, since no one has actually seen it in action.

"...“Being part of an attack was a strange thing, Marcus had always thought. It was like being a component in a larger organism, something that could live or die, stand or flee, all on its own and independent of the will of the men who made it up. Sometimes it drove you onward, into the face of what seemed like certain death, in spite of every instinct screaming for flight. Other times, you could feel it falling apart, turning at bay like a whipped dog, hunkering down or turning tail to run.” ..."

The mixture of carbines and magic fighting is perfectly balanced and the system of magic, based on a religion, is just rare enough to be interesting and mysterious. The pacing suffered a bit in the beginning of the book, but I think this is an issue many books of this scope suffer with when introducing the world building, so I had no real issue with it. The characters, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, and privet Winter Ihernglass, who has taken a male persona in order to enlist while running from the law, are all enigmatic and very easy to get charmed by. All the secondary characters on whom they count round up a cast one can really learn to root for. The bad guys are mostly a mystery and often I was asking myself if they were truly bad guys, or if "our guys" were the ones who should have kept their paws away from them.

"...“Of the two, the Almighty was a good deal less frightening. The Lord, in his infinite mercy, might forgive a soldier who strayed from the path, but the Last Duke certainly would not.” ..."

I started the book with no expectations and was very pleased with where it took me. There were many things you had to suspend disbelief for, but hey, this is Fantasy and I am up for anything within the genre. I would recommend it to all those who love Adventure and good old fashioned shootout on the field of battle!!

"...“As the Colonials settled down in Ashe-Katarion, Janus asked Marcus to come up with a detail of twenty men he thought he could trust to keep a secret.
Marcus was tempted to reply that twenty men could keep a secret only if you sank nineteen of them in the river, and even then you’d have to keep an eye on the last one.” ..."

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful Books to come!
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
720 reviews1,173 followers
June 13, 2022
Check out my Booktube channel at: The Obsessive Bookseller

Thousand Names was an unusual military fantasy, but I quite liked it.

First off, it’s clear that magic is going to be an integral part to the overall mechanisms of the series and the conflicts within, but it’s presence in this first book was next to nil. If you pick this up, go in expecting a bonafide flintlock military story set in a fantasy world, and NOT expecting battles with mages flinging spells left and right (as I’d been).

I especially enjoyed the beginning where this army’s leaders were trying to shape a ragtag group into something reputable. That was my favorite aspect of the story, and unfortunately it was dropped a bit soon in favor of focusing on the characters and their wide array of strange conflicts. I enjoyed the transition to the characters and the journey with them, but missed that initial selling point throughout the rest of the novel. This gradual transition of story (which happened at a couple of junctures throughout the book) is part of the reason why I called it “unusual.” Nothing quite panned out as expected, but it was written well, so in this case it still managed to create a satisfying story.

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the military aspect of this book. My knee-jerk reaction was that the battle scenes were meh, just okay. They didn’t have a lot of human connection during, but rather seemed an endless barrage of logistics descriptions. This unit moved here, this person got shot, etc. and what was missing for me were honed-in perspectives to really make me feel something for what was happening. I think part of my disconnection was because I had just finished Abercrombie’s Age of Madness trilogy, which is riddled with some of the best battle scenes I’ve ever read. By comparison, these lacked the same spark. However, had I read them further apart, I may have enjoyed this more. The feedback I’ve gotten since first discussing my experience with this book is that most people generally liked the battles and thought them done well. I will say at least that they were quite easy to visualize, but the level of detail required for that could be both a good and a bad thing… my jury is still out.

It’s an oddly character-driven novel, and for the most part I enjoyed my experience with them. They weren’t quite as in-depth or introspective as I’d wanted, but are still the types of profiles I think I’m going to have fun rooting for while reading the rest of the series.

Overall, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this and look forward to continuing on in the series.

Recommendations: pick Thousand Names up aware that this first book is more “military” than “fantasy” and enjoy Wexler’s unconventional approach to the genre. I can see why it’s hailed as a staple flintlock fantasy.

Thank you to my Patrons: Filipe, Dave, and Sonja! <3

Other books you might like:
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria, #1) by Anthony Ryan Promise of Blood (Powder Mage, #1) by Brian McClellan The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, #1) by Jim Butcher Traitor's Blade (Greatcoats, #1) by Sebastien de Castell

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,161 reviews2,011 followers
August 24, 2020
I am giving this four stars because I enjoyed it very much despite the pages and pages of detailed battle strategies. Quite frankly details of long battles send me to sleep. However the fantasy content increased as the book progressed until eventually the fight was between possessed corpses with glowing green eyes and the army. That was much more entertaining.

The characters were great especially Marcus, Winter and Colonel Janus. In fact I thought that Janus brought the whole thing to life although he could be majorly irritating when he withheld information for no apparent reason. I was also pleased with the huge twist at the end when a perfectly normal character suddenly becomes not normal at all. I did not anticipate that.

Overall this was well worth reading and I have great hopes for enjoying the next book as much if not more. (I hear there are less battles in it).
Profile Image for Ivan.
415 reviews272 followers
April 9, 2019
3.7 stars.

Few years back my friend was dating this girl and during few night outs I seen her she seem like confident young woman until I had opportunity to meet her in more private atmosphere. Without strong makeup there was face of a teen and behind mature posturing there was mindset of young person trying to fit in with adults.

The thousand names kind of reminds me of that. From afar it seem to be grimdark fantasy similar to Powder mage or The first law series but within hard,dirty shell there is beating YA heart. This mostly reflects in it's main characters. This aren't anti-heroes or straight horrible people for who's eyes we see McClellan's or Abercrombie's books. Here they are honorable and likable people and their actions are always predictable. While Winter and Marcus have some character development most other characters are archetypes. Templates with minimal changes to fit Wexler's story.

Once I got past initial disappointment and excepted this book for what it is I really started enjoying it. It's core are superbly written battles. Large scale tactics, skirmishes and personal combat are all pleasure to read and I haven't rad this well action since last time I read The traitor son cycle (which reminds I really should get back to that series at some point in near future). Story is interesting, very slow in first half but that's understandable since this is the first book in long series. World building is unobtrusive and we learn more about the world organically through story rather than info dumps.

Overall fun book, Strong debut and I'm really interested to see who this series will shape out.
Profile Image for Allen Walker.
137 reviews1,263 followers
June 14, 2022
I am very confused as to how I did not give this 5 stars in my first read. To be fair, I read a lot less back then and was less familiar with the what's out there, etc. This should be THE flintlock fantasy novel people go to to get their fix. So good. There is no reason this book shouldn't outsell Powder Mage 10-to-1.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews596 followers
July 3, 2019
‘Don’t put things off too long, because you may never get a chance at them.’”

This is my first book by the author, also the first time I'm reading a book with muskets instead of swords that I'm familiar with in fantasy book. This book is so unlike the fantasy books I'm used to and I admit I needed the different aspect in this. The book focus mainly on war campaigns, the title of the series should give a clue on that.

You’ll have some scars, I expect.”
“Scars on my back don’t worry me,” Adrecht said. “Actually, I’ve always thought I needed one on my face. Not a big one, just a little nick. To give me that air of mystery, you know?”
“On your back is even better. Tell the girl you’ve been in the wars, and when she asks to see your scars you’ve got to take off your shirt and you’re already halfway there.”

The book focuses on basically all aspects of war, I love the depictions of the characters using muskets and bayonets, it reminds me of the movie The Patriot. Just like most good fantasy books, this book has a good dose of religion, politics, romance, sexism and feminism.

The use of muskets and gun powders, bayonets and people's face blowing up, not to mention the smoke is the most realistic things in this book, its also why I like this book as much as I do. Not the mention the part colonials sending bad and unwanted things to their colonies, it came back and bit them which was sweet.

World building and Writing
The world building is average, the author depicted things well but I think it could have been better, especially the magic, its a bit confusing to me. The writing was great and easy to understand, it was written in third person multiple POV but only Marcus and Winter has the major POV, Jaffa's POV was very sporadic.

I seriously do not have a favourite character in this book which is super weird cause I normally do. I can't decide between Winter, Marcus and Bobby, even Foer is a fun character. I really love Winter's squad members, those soldiers are crazy. I like Janus even though he is sort of crazy, which is normal cause all geniuses are.

“While I hate to cast aspersions on the humble army cutters, their knowledge tends toward the practical, and their approach is often . . . blunt. If the problem cannot be removed from the patient with a bone saw, they are often at a loss. Fortunately, medicine is among my fields of study.”

Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,598 followers
July 18, 2013

Apparently, I love "flintlock fantasy". The phrase, which according to Wikipedia has been around since the 1990s to describe a sub-genre of fantasy "set in a Regency or Napoleonic-era period", admittedly only entered my lexicon just this year. But all this time, I knew deep in my gut that there simply had to be a term out there for this incredible and distinctly unique brand of fantasy with the musket-era setting that I so adore; I just never knew the name for it until now.

There's just something so attractive to me about fantasy inspired by this period, mostly because of the fascinating historical ideas and imagery that immediately come to mind, themes like revolution and war, battles waged with gunpowder weaponry, discovering new worlds and colonialism, etc. That's what first drew me to Django Wexler's The Thousand Names. Just the first sentence in the blurb was enough to make me add this to my must-read list, and the positive reviews it received only made me bump it up to the top.

The book is mostly told through the perspectives of two soldiers, assigned to a sleepy desert colonial fort out in the fringes of the Vordanai empire. However, a recent uprising and subsequent takeover of the city of Ashe-Katarion by a local sect called the Redeemers has resulted in the outpost not being so sleepy anymore. Now the king of Vordan has sent reinforcements, and Captain Marcus d'Ivoire finds himself welcoming a whole new garrison of inexperienced recruits to join his Old Colonial troops. Then there's Winter Ihernglass, a low ranking soldier who unexpectedly earns a promotion and comes into command -- except getting more attention is the last thing Winter wants, given the fact she is actually a woman who masqueraded as a man in order to enlist and flee her past.

With the Colonials on the march to take back the city, both Marcus' and Winter's lives are in the hands of the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, a military genius whose demeanor and tactics are unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. But despite the confidence and aptitude Janus exudes, it soon becomes clear there is a lot more to the mysterious commander. Marcus begins to suspect that his colonel's objectives -- and ambitions -- may extend beyond simply defeating the Redeemers, encroaching into the realm of magic and the supernatural.

My experience with this book pretty much played out like a fast-paced and passionate relationship. The Thousand Names practically came out of nowhere for me; I'd probably only heard about it around a month before its release, leaving me not much time to anticipate it. Nevertheless, I went into this with higher-than-high expectations, and ultimately I have to say even those were met and exceeded. I fell in love with this book really quickly, probably within the first few chapters, especially after the two main characters were established. This might make me sound silly, but I won't deny after turning the last page I actually couldn't help but feel slightly lost and a bit melancholy, finding myself caught in a sort of "oh crap, I'm finished, what the heck do I do with myself now?" kind of fugue. I was just that addicted to this book.

Obviously, I loved the setting and the world-building. The writing had a way of putting you right there with the colonial garrison, so it wasn't hard to sympathize with the characters and the foreignness of their situation or the awkwardness of being strangers in a strange land. I was also fascinated with the idea of this ragtag colonial army that's made up of one-part green recruits and one-part jaded-and-couldn't-care-less old veterans, and all the rules of warfare go out the window. The Redeemer forces may vastly outnumber the Vordanai, but the fact that the former is made up of mostly militia and over-confident Auxiliary troops gave their clashes plenty of suspense, and the detailed battle scenes in the desert are worthy of any military fantasy.

But the highlight of this book had to be the characters. I absolutely adored Winter; she was probably my favorite character, but Marcus wasn't far behind either. What's great about these two characters is that they feel deep and real, and are immediately the kind of people you want to like and to see succeed. Beyond that, everyone in this book also has secrets and mysteries, and so you just want to keep reading to find out more.

This even applies to the supporting cast. Most of them are pretty well fleshed out too, and I think the fact that Colonel Janus is my second favorite character in this book despite him not being a point-of-view character is a testament to that. The author also focuses briefly here and there on Jaffa, a character inside the city of Ashe-Katarion, giving insights into what's happening on the side of the Redeemers. I felt this was important, as it gives us a look at the opposition, or else it's easy just to think of them as a faceless enemy army.

All told, this book was hard to put down. For its length, I finished it in really good time, and it was one of those rare gems where I knew it would go straight onto my shelf of favorites even before I had reached the quarter-way point. Easily one of the best books I've read this year so far.

See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum
Profile Image for Clouds.
228 reviews629 followers
August 31, 2014
Two word summary: Enormously enjoyable!

My baby daughter had a bad case of stage fright when she born; she was overdue, my wife was induced, and we were still in hospital for several days before she arrived. Over that time, we did a lot of reading to kill the time. This wasn't one of the books we took with us - this was an impromptu purchase from the hospital bookshop when our travelling library was running low.

I think my first comment was, "Django Wexler. What an awesome name for a spec-fic writer!"
Django — the D is silent as most everyone now knows — the nickname of the great Belgian-born jazz guitarist Django (originally Jean Baptiste) Reinhardt, makes a dynamic musical choice for any jazz aficionado. Reinhardt's nickname "Django" is Romani for "I awake." The name has become more familiar with the release of and acclaim for the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.
So about the book?

Right, of course. Sorry, I'm suffering from new-baby sleep deprivation so my chain of thought is rather squiggly.

This is 'flintlock fantasy' - a term I've heard, but never read before. Most fantasy is set in a medieval era ('classic fantasy' - castles, knights, swordplay, etc). Some fantasy is set modern-era (urban fantasy - cars and computers, etc). Some is set in a spin-off of Victorian era (steampunk fantasy - steam power, airships and clockwork, etc). Flintlock fantasy is set in a Napoleonic equivalent era (muskets and cannons, etc) - it's a great combination, and I don't know why it's only recently coming to prominence.

As a kid, one of the TV shows I was allowed to stay-up late and watch was Sharpe. Based on Bernard Cromwell novels, the show starred a young Sean Bean (he of Lord of the Rings & Game of Thrones fame) as a British soldier in the Napoleonic wars. It was an awesome show (and one I'd love to re-watch some time). I also have a soft-spot for Wilbur Smith's Courtney series which is set in a slightly later era (but more sailor/explorer based than military). I haven't indulged either of these loves for many years, which is one reason why The Thousand Names went down quite so well with me!

You see, this isn't 'amazing' writing. There are many clichés here (more on that later), and the prose is more workmanlike than inspirational, but the experience as a whole was enormously enjoyable. I've seen other people compare it to The Black Company series as another recent flintlock fantasy work, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen series as another military-focused fantasy work. Unfortunately, I've not (yet) read either of those series, so to me the most comparable author springing to mind is Brandon Sanderson. That's a big compliment in my book, because Sanderson has become my go-to guy for reliable, fun, 'popcorn' reading.

The Thousand Names is driven by three soldiers, each of which are graduates from the Tabula Rasa school of Character Stereotypes.

- The Honourable Captain (HC) often acts cynical and resigned to the 'realities' of military life, but at heart is an idealist, a white-knight and a natural leader. He just needs a reason to believe!

- The Girl Dressed as a Boy (GDaaB) has run away to join the army and lives in fear of the other soldiers finding out her secret, while simultaneously proving that she's a better solider than any of them!

- The Enigmatic Colonel (EG) is Shelock Holmes in a uniform - a tactical genius, with razor-sharp insight into strategy and man-management, which allows him to steer his men to victory against huge odds again and again.

In an fantasy-world version of Egypt, in a Napolenoic era equivalent, HC and GDaaB are serving in an something like the French Colony forces - propping up the rule of an Egyptian Prince. An extremist religious faction whips up a rebellion, the Prince's local forces (trained by the French) defect to join the rebellion, and the wild desert raiders also throw in their lot with the uprising. Massively outnumbered, our forces retreat back along the coast to an old fortress. The rebel forces don't pursue, instead consolidating their grip on the capital. This is where the story starts, with HC nominally in charge awaiting the arrival of EG and the reinforcements. GDaaB is a lowly 'ranker'.

It's predominantly a military story, with set-piece battles providing opportunities for the Girl Dressed as a Boy to prove her mettle and work her way up the ranks, for Enigmatic Colonel to prove his genius, and for Honourable Captain to regain his belief and focus.

Despite this stereotypes and clichés... it works! There's a lot of love for good old-fashioned, character focused adventure here. I've already namechecked Sanderson, but fans of Louis McMaster Bujold, Julian May, Tad Williams and/or Peter Hamilton are likely to enjoy themselves here. There's not a great deal of 'gritty' if you prefer your fantasy with an edge, for all the guns and death this is actually a clean-cut honour and heroes sort of lark.

The fantasy element is gradual - quick spoiler tags here for a discussion of the magic system:

Mr Django has already announced that there are 5 books planned for the series, 1 per year, so it's going to run for a while yet 2013-2017, so arguably the best time to start reading will be 2016 to blitz the four existing books just before the last one comes out. I've been foolish enough to start before book 2 is out... so I'll be waiting patiently for my yearly instalment!

As long as military books don't turn you off, this is highly recommended.

Note: Baby Tabitha was eventually born on 23rd June, and is a happy, healthy little sprog.

After this I read: Broken Homes
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,934 followers
May 5, 2015
This book is getting a solid 4.5* rating from me which is really good considering I'm not usually one for battle-heavy books. This is a fantasy debut book but it really doesn't feel like the author is settling into fantasy. It's very well paced with only one or two moments of slow writing, a lot of moments of intrigue, and an explosive ending. I constantly had questions and when I wasn't reading the book I did wonder about it. I have to say I am very glad I picked this up because it's a really brilliant series and whilst I didn't adore Brian McClellan's take on fantasy and flintlock I am happy to say that Django Wexler's approach was far more interesting and compelling for me.

This story follows two different characters, Winter who is a young soldier in the Vordanai Army, and Marcus who is a leading commander in the army. Neither of these characters know each other specifically when the story begins, but we follow each of their journeys as they are both part of the army trying to take on the Khandarians.

Firstly I have to say that there's clearly going to be a lot of warfare and battles and attacks throughout this whole book and that's certainly the case. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the way that Wexler handled it was that he did his research and he's clearly got a passion for describing battles and this shows through in his writing. Even though I personally don't love battles on a large scale as I find it easy to get confused, this book had a very clear and well put together way of detailing the battles so I felt that I knew exactly who was where and what they were doing in the battle at all times. The descriptions of the warfare and attacks and the layout of the regiments was excellent, and I think it's one of the better battle-focused books I've ever read for sure as it makes it easy to comprehend.

The characters themselves are both very interesting in their own way as due to their position within the Army each one gets a different perspective on the goings on. Whilst Marcus is a high up commander and knows a lot more than anyone else about the military tactics and best route to take, he's tested when a new Colonel is brought in to lead the new attack. The Vordanai and the Khandari have lived in peace up until fairly recently when we join the story, and with the new fracturing and attacking of the Khandari the Vordani are forced to act so the King sends in a new Colonel called Janus. Janus is a very, very clever character so much so that no one really knows if he's so clever he's better than anyone else, or he's so insane that he can convince everyone he knows what he's doing even without truly knowing. Marcus is unsure how to react to this new, odd character, and over the course of the book we see him having to deal with not only his own troops and friendships, but be the go-between for the main army and the Colonel who refuses to talk to anyone but him.
I really enjoyed seeing Marcus' take on the situation and there were multiple moments within this book where I felt that we saw Marcus in an impossibly tough situation where he had to choose one thing over another. I really enjoyed getting to know him and his backstory because at first glance he's your typical grizzled Commander, but of course there's more to him than just that and as the story goes on we see his true feelings and alliances.

Winter is a solider in the army but she's masquerading as a male to escape her past. She's a very conscientious and aware soldier who not only knows more languages than most, but has a rather sad backstory which haunts her wherever she goes. I felt that her character was one I could easily connect to and sympathise with, and I was instant;y very intrigued by her predicament and the situations she was put in.
I felt like Winter's storyline was a brilliantly told one and one where I felt I could guess some things, but I was so wrong. There were a great number of twists and turns in this book and I didn't expect them which made it so interesting and Winter's story certainly had it's fair share. I loved seeing her character and learning how she dealt with tricky situations, and I also appreciated her resourcefulness! She's a very strong and wonderful character to learn about, and I really appreciated her character.

The Magic in this book is handled well because there's not a whole load of it used which means that whenever we do see any magic we feel it's effects more and it's far more intimidating. I really liked the ideas of the magic within this world as it's a very mysterious form and we don't find out too much about it until the ending where everything kicks off, but I certainly am looking forward to learning more because what we do learn and see glimpses of is a very cool idea.

Also there are some lgbt themes within this story which I really enjoyed because although there's nothing too explicit, this is certainly something we don't often see within fantasy and I found it very well-handled and quite refreshing. I wonder if this too may come into play more as the series goes on.

On the whole this is a very satisfying and interesting book and I would highly recommend it. I plan to pick up book 2 in June before the release of book 3 this year and I'm highly excited by the ending and the way everything will continue and shape up in book 2. A solid 4.5*s!
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
771 reviews124 followers
November 7, 2022
I bought this book, twice, along with the rest of the series in hardback largely on faith alone, having only read Django Wexler's excellent and underappreciated The Forbidden Library middle-grade series, now my daughter's favourite. That, and this book's excellent cover. It did not disappoint, now that I finally read it after carting the series around for several years and thousands of kilometers.

The Thousand Names is a very good traditional high fantasy military adventure. It doesn't take risks or break new ground, but delivers on its promise with enjoyable characters and clean prose. There's a little bit of mystery, a little bit of magic, and just enough seeds to grow into the series's next four books. It takes place in a North Africanish setting but mostly following the Europeanish colonists' fighting force, and it seems that the next part of the series will take us back to Europeanish lands, but still bringing some of that foreign element back with it. As much as the bulk of the story is told through two points of view from the same side of the conflict, it's not an us-versus-them construction for the reader. I often found myself on team Steel Ghost.

There's a clump of chapters around page 200 where the book got bogged down in military maneuvers, forgetting to also tie events to characters, and at that point I felt what caused some reviewers to lose interest and feared for the rest of the book. This was briefly disappointing because I was loving it up to that point. Fortunately this flagging connection lasted only (I think) three or four chapters. If you find yourself struggling at that same point, just keep this in mind: Winter is coming.

I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before, can't remember where. Anyway, I got through it and you can too, and the story regained its appeal and maintained it through to the end.
Profile Image for Anthony Ryan.
Author 69 books8,264 followers
September 2, 2014
Django Wexler has delivered a highly entertaining debut which mixes elements of Bernard Cornwall-esque military adventure with an original take on magic and keen eye for action, dialogue and character. If this is any indication succeeding volumes may end up doing for the Napoleonic Wars what George RR Martin did for the Wars of the Roses. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Rob.
845 reviews532 followers
August 9, 2016
Executive Summary: This one is more flintlock than fantasy. It should appeal to any military fantasy, or maybe even military fiction fans, but may be found slow/uninteresting to sword and sorcery readers.

Audio book: Mr. Poe is a decent reader, but nothing spectacular. I think he does attempt to distinguish voice a little, but it was mostly too subtle for me to really tell the difference. He does have good inflections and emotion in his reading at least.

Full Review
I didn't know much about this one coming in, just that it was supposed to be another "Flintlock Fantasy" similar to Promise of Blood. While I enjoyed both, these series seem to be very different.

Apart from the prologue the first half of this book contained almost no magic at all. There is pretty much just a lot of military protocol and character development.

I'm not a big reader of military fiction in any form, but it is one of the aspects of Malazan Book of the Fallen I'm really enjoying. Unlike that series however there are no medics who use magic to heal or mages who attack with spells here. There are simply soldiers with muskets, bayonets and swords.

I think anyone who finds well described military action boring may be turned away by this one. It really is sort of slice of life with military men for a good portion as Mr. Wexler builds the world and his characters out for the reader.

I enjoyed the first half of the story at a solid 3-3.5 rating, but when the fantasy element of this book did finally come along it really raised things to another level for me.

We are provided with two primary point of views that of Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and a soldier named Winter Ihernglass. I liked this contrast between things at the command of the unit and things down at the grunt level.

I think Mr. Wexler also does a good job of swapping between the two while keeping the story flowing, especially in the later chapters where we get both POVs instead of just one of them.

We do get some POVs from the opposing forces in this book, but they are mostly relegated to the prologue, interludes and epilogue. I would have liked to see more from the opposing characters as for now their motivations are vague at best.

I'm still not sure who I'm rooting for in this series. I'm not sure if the goals of the Vordanai and their new commander Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich Mieran are for the best.

I think that's part of the charm of this book. Most fantasy these days operate in shades of grey, but since we're not given much in the way of opposing viewpoints the reader is left to draw their own conclusions about who (if anyone) is in the right here.

Things really pick up at the end and this book comes to a satisfying conclusion while setting things up nicely for the next book, which I'm now looking forward to.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
September 13, 2016
5 Stars

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler surpassed my expectations by a long shot. All of the reviews that classify this as a military fantasy are spot on, it is that and more. Wexler treats the choreography of the military campaign as many authors would detail sword fights and fisticuffs.

This book is a real treat for those that like strategy with their action. So many of the situations and scenarios are discussed amongst the characters and we are treated to an incredible amount tactics and world building by their explanations. I loved it. I have pointed out in previous reviews of some of my favorite action fantasy novels that I love and appreciate authors that take the time to spell out their action. Think of authors like R.A. Salvatore and Sebastien de Castell.

"“The volley had gone through the Redeemer host like a reaper’s scythe through wheat. Corpses lay three-, four-, five-deep in front of the Vordanai line, mixed with wounded men and here and there a few who had come through miraculously unscathed. In front of the guns, there were no such fortunates, and not even any corpses recognizable as such. Pieces lay scattered like dismembered dolls, legs and arms and shattered skulls, men who had been hit by a dozen balls and torn to shreds. For an instant the field of fire of each piece was clearly visible, a giant cone of fallen men spreading back through the horde as though swept by a giant broom, while those to either side stood stunned into insensibility”

I absolutely devoured this book. I never knew that I would enjoy so much stategy talk as I did here. Winter is simply amazing and I cannot wait to see where he goes from here.

I absolutely loved this book, I dropped the ball on my review as I left it for too long. So, I will finish by...


Profile Image for Lena K..
62 reviews126 followers
July 9, 2018
Unlike many of the fantasy books that take place in a world parallel to our Medieval Ages, "The Thousand Names" takes place in an era parallel to our 17th/18th century - with muskets and cannons (how cool is that?). Which is nice and mostly - refreshing. Django writes fantastically! His main characters are very likable and well written. Both Winter and Marcus are great! But I think Marcus is my favorite for the time being. He got me with his healthy cynical approach to life, as can be seen in the quotes below. The plot itself was interesting, even though I saw the big twist coming from a mile. The ending was neatly done and closed all loose ends. 5 out of 5 muskets.

“He had a strong suspicion that he would find his hell unpleasantly familiar. Paperwork. A mountain, a torrent of paper, a stack of things to read and sign that never shrank or ended. And, lurking behind, on, and around every sheet, the looming anxiety that while this one was just the latrine-digging rota, the next one might be important. Really, critically important, the kind of thing that would make future historians shake their heads and say, “If only d’Ivoire had read that report, all those lives might have been spared.”

Marcus talking about religion:
“The statue was some kind of lizard, rendered with a terrifying mouth full of fangs, each impaling a screaming miniature figure. Whatever god it represented seemed like a particularly unpleasant one. Probably judging the sins of man, or some such. It seems to be a popular theme.”

Marcus talking about his Lieutenant, Fitz:
“Certainly our presence contributes to the maintenance of order,” Fitz said, in the slow, calm tone he used to explain things to officers and small children.”

“Fitz seemed to keep the entire schedule of the First Battalion in his head, writing it down only for the benefit of mere mortals.”
Profile Image for Sarah.
604 reviews145 followers
December 12, 2017
I'm giving it 3.5 stars and rounding down to 3. Which is a lot more than I expected to give honestly.

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.
458 reviews393 followers
August 26, 2017
Holy crap, I never left a review for this, shame on me.

I loved this book, I really like military/flintlock fantasy and this scratched that itch so hard.

It's a multiPOV book, but it's largely just two characters which keeps this easy to follow, and it really gets you emotionally invested in both characters.

This book takes a topic that can be done really poorly - women pretending to be men in the military - and does it perfectly. Sometimes this tack falls really flat and doesn't work well at all, but Winter is such a great character. She's written so well, her battle tactics are sound, she's a good leader even though it's not what she initially signed up for.

The other POV, Marcus, is another military leader and his journey is very different but just as appealing. I really liked Marcus, he was easy to relate to and easy to care about. He's a decent person over all who's put into a lot of difficult situations and tries his best to handle them well.

There's a lot of action in this book and a ton of realistic world building This book qualifies for the bingo square Desert and man do you feel it. This book made the heat an ever present part of the environment without beating you over the head with it.

I really have very few complaints about this book and I really encourage anyone who's interested in flint lock fantasy or military fantasy to give it a try. If you've never read a book like that before I think this is a good starting point.

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