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The Penitent Damned

(The Shadow Campaigns #0.5)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,687 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Alex is a master thief, with dark magic to give her an edge. When she goes up against Duke Orlanko's Concordat secret police, though, she may have taken on more than she bargained for...

This is a prequel short story to The Thousand Names. It was released for free on io9 -- http://io9.com/the-coolest-fantasy-st... -- and is also available on the Kindle Store.
ebook, 20 pages
Published June 17th 2013
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Matt I recommend reading it after the Thousand Names, and before the Shadow Throne. It adds a bit of context to characters mentioned only by name in the Th…moreI recommend reading it after the Thousand Names, and before the Shadow Throne. It adds a bit of context to characters mentioned only by name in the Thousand Names, so it's well positioned there, but reading it beforehand without any knowledge of the world is probably not optimal.(less)

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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  1,687 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Dec 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gene by: Farès
Shelves: fantasy
You are a head of the Secret Police - or its equivalent; you are feared and have mystical (and practically mythical) beings at your disposal. For you nefarious purposes you want to catch the best thief available.

What is the most common and most obvious way to do it? Tempt him/her with "retrieving" a tightly-guarded object promising a very large reward hitting thief's both self-esteem and greed with one stone and hope said self-esteem and greed make him/her forget a well-known saying about thing
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun little ditty that gives us a bit more of Alex's backstory, but not a necessary entry into the existing Shadow Campaigns lore. I don't mind a little tidbit or morsel in an established series, but I was kinda hoping for a little more with this one. This was much shorter than I expected (that's what she said!). But oh well, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. And since I like Alex as a character, any additional time spent with her is a good thing.

Ultimately, The Penitent Damned wo
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a short but enjoyable novella set in the world of the awesome The Thousand Names.

The main character in this novella was a young thief who uses her magical powers to succeed in audacious robberies. Despite the limitations to characterisation imposed by a 50 page novella I found her to be likeable and interesting. Her powers were especially cool. I was disappointed with the focus on magic at the end of The Thousand Names and how it distracted from realistic military action but I really e
Rating, 3.5

Thieves and assassins. Politics and magic. A too short little short.


This is my first time reading something written by Django Wexler,... so ... no, I'm not familiar with The Shadow Campaigns series, and this I shall rectify soon.

Pity that when the real action began, the story was at it's end.
ᴥ Irena ᴥ
What starts as an ordinary, mildly interesting story turns out to be an extraordinary introduction to The Shadow Campaigns series world.
It surprised me, it didn't go where I thought it would, it didn't end the way I thought it would. It is the reason why I liked it. The promise of a wonderful fantasy is there.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
The Penitent Damned is a short prequel to The Thousand Names in Django Wexler’s The Shadow Campaigns series. It’s available for free here.

Duke Orlanko learns that a famous thief is planning to steal something valuable from him, so he assigns somebody to try to prevent the theft. The story is primarily about what happens when the thief makes the attempt.

This short story wasn’t nearly as entertaining to me as the first novel, so I wouldn’t recommend starting with this if only for that reason. It
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, magic, novella
I read and loved Django Wexler's The Thousand Names this summer, and only found out about this short story afterward. The Penitent Damned features different characters, but it's a prequel to TTN taking place in the same world. Of course, my recommendation would be to start right out with the full length novel, but if you haven't discovered this author's work yet or want a taste of the writing before you take the leap, then this is a great way to get started. The story can be found here for free: ...more
Book Haunt
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
See review at Book Haunt

Sotiris Karaiskos
Sep 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I have reached the fourth book of the main series and I am at the point where the protagonist of this short story appears, so I realized that it was time to read it. Nothing great, a little night adventure with a little backstory but it definitely adds something to the bigger story. I would like it to be a little bigger and offer us more details about this very interesting heroine but I have to be content with what the author wanted to give.

Έχω φτάσει στο τέταρτο βιβλίο της κύριας σειράς και βρί
Mar 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021-read
I didn't realise this was only 20 pages... bummer. Nice little story about Alex and her thieving days. I wish it was longer and that I read it at least before book 4 of The Shadow Campaigns. ...more
Thomas Stacey
2.5 stars.

An entertaining short story with a bit of setup for the full length novel.

Short stories aren’t really my thing, but at this price (a big fat zero) how could I not pick it up?
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it

Review originally over at Fantasy Book Critic

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Penitent Damned is a prequel short story that was featured for free on io9 and after reading it, I would very much recommend it to readers as well with the caveat that they might enjoy it better after reading The Thousand Names.

The story is set in Vordan and basically is a heist story. The story focuses on Duke Mallus Kengire Orlanko, Royal Minister of Information and leader of the Vordanai secret police, the all-seeing, all-kn
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
This short story can be found and read for free at:

Great short story with a lot of tension and interesting twists that while a bit expected are still very enjoyable! A good appetizer for Wexler's full length novel in the same universe. I can't really say more as due to its short length I won't be able to avoid spoilers. But it's short and it's free so there's nothing holding you from reading it and enjoying it yourselves!
Richard Eyres
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thought i would take a quick break while reading The Thousand Names to read this short story. What a great little short this is. It builds up a character that i hope we see again in the future. It is a short read, and there will be no spoilers here about it, but it is NOT set in the same area as The Thousand Names.
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a completely different writing style to the the thousand names. Its a must read just to enjoy the writing.
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult to rate 20 some pages.

Anyway, 4 stars because we get to know a bit more about some characters we'll meet in The Thousand Names and because I hope that this (very) short novel has a purpose. I know we'll meet Alex again in The Shadow of Elysium but does she have a role to play in the rest of the series ?

Only one way to know ... on my way to The Price of Valour

Elena Linville
That was a fast little read and a good introduction to the world. I would have loved it to be slightly longer though. What is the Penitent identity? What will happen to Alex? What was in those documents?

The short story left me wanting more.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
It made me to decide to start the series although I don't have much time ...more
originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2014...

Last year Django Wexler published his first book in The Shadow Campaigns series, The Thousand Names, which was followed just a few weeks back by the sequel in the series, The Shadow Throne, where he really had outdone himself, tranforming his storyline into the right direction! When I was adding the book on goodreads I found that there was a short story written prior to the events of The Thousand Names called The Penitent Damned, and
Phil A
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, magic
This was a very short story, but very exciting too! I really like Alex's magical power. The back and forth battle between Alex and the Penitent Damned was a great scene in the story. Having read "The Thousand Names" first, you can now appreciate the reach that Orlanko and his group holds. They remind of the Smoking Man from the original X Files TV series. His group is undercover and out of the public eye, but very powerful and unchecked. I would love for this story to continue. How about it, Dja ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story, fantasy
I usually don't like it when Kindle Singles serve as "teasers" for a much longer work or series. In this case, though, I'll make an exception. There's something about Wexler's worldbuilding that feels very fresh, and THE PENITENT DAMNED made me eager to explore this new fantasy universe in much greater detail. ...more
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, very-short
This is a prequel to a book I've already read. No worries though, it has nothing to do with The Thousand Names aside from being in the same world and some of the organizations.

Really an excellent read and a great taste of Wexler's writing. I greatly enjoyed Alex and her strange ability. I'd love to read more about her.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, short-story
The Thousand Names, the first book in the Shadow Campaigns series, is on my to-read list, so I thought I'd check out this prequel short story. Very nicely done, girl thief tries to pull off a job with her magic. Don't know how it ties to the main story, but we shall see when I get to it. ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Very short but it does give a few insights.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
(I still miss Janus, tho)
Fábio Fernandes
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Good and fun! It made me want to read The Thousand Names!
Mayank Agarwal
Too short to be enjoyed

At about 20 pages it’s too short a story to be enjoyed, at best it’s an introduction to the world of The Shadow Campaigns Series, more a glimmer of the kind of magic to expect as the series has much more to offer with magic playing a minor part. Still one can gauge the ability of the author his writing style and storytelling skill from this short story.

The plot revolves around a young thieve having some mysterious power which makes her overconfident into believing she can
Mar 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Quite intriguing , but should't Alex felt the presence of other penitent damned? ...more
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I want to read "The Thousand Names" and this short story (maybe 20 pages) was a very good sample of what to expect. We open on the "Last Duke" Orlanko musing how he hated using Andreas because he (and his comrades) represented Orlanko's concession that his world was not as perfectly organized as he wanted. Orlanko is a man who likes everything to be in their place and to need Andreas to clean up messed that couldn't be dealt with in the normal ways rankled him.

But hey you know what they say abo
Lis Carey
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf, fiction
Alex is a very talented master thief--extremely talented. She has some very useful magic to assist her in her work, with the added advantage that everyone knows magic and magic workers are gone from the world.

Also gone from the world are the Dark Priests who hunted down magic users, so Alex is safe at least from that danger, right?

But not all is as Alex thinks it is, and perhaps she should have listened to the misgivings of her senior partner. Maybe visiting Vordan to steal from the Duke Orlanko
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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 g ...more

Other books in the series

The Shadow Campaigns (5 books)
  • The Thousand Names (The Shadow Campaigns, #1)
  • The Shadow Throne (The Shadow Campaigns, #2)
  • The Price of Valour (The Shadow Campaigns, #3)
  • The Guns of Empire (The Shadow Campaigns, #4)
  • The Infernal Battalion (The Shadow Campaigns, #5)

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