THE THOUSAND NAMESAuthor: Django Wexler
Series: The Shadow Campaigns #1
Source: Audiobook from Audible
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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.
I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I was SUPER enthralled every time I was listening to it. I tried to listen only when I was doing chores and stuff and ended up just sitting on my bed and listening rather than doing anything. The storyline is really compelling and the characters are ones you really root for. However, I thought there could have been a bit more explanation at the end and I thought the first little bit was a bit thick with explanations. I also feel like there could have been a better handling of the races of the two warring factions because it reads really white but probably shouldn't based on the setting.
I enjoyed reading about the war and military tactics (which I wouldn't typically say because that's not really my thing) but I felt like the beginning had too much of an emphasis on it. I understand that it was to show us the life of a Captain (Marcus) versus the grunt (Winter) but it made for a bit of a dense read at the beginning when I should have been swept away. It took me a v long time to get past the first part (almost a month and a half) instead of the couple of hours it should have been. Once the focus shifted more to the characters and how they would have to survive the campaign (rather than the campaign itself), I found myself unable to turn the audiobook off. I was blowing off other reading responsibilities just to listen to this one. And it's the characters that really saved this one for me.
I loved Winter and her story. I felt super connected to her and am really glad we got her perspective on events. I also liked how her story intersected with Marcus and Janus. I think it was honestly the characters and their thoughts, feelings, and motivations that kept me so heavily invested in the story. And they are the reason I will be continuing on with the series (in book form, since I own the rest as hardcovers).
I thought the world-building was a little lacking. I felt like the magic system wasn't fully explained and thrown together at the end to give us some sense of "resolution" but it definitely wasn't enough. I feel like this one was bogged down with battle details rather than expanding upon the religious sects, the magic, and the history. I would have liked to know a bit more about all these things -- especially since they seem to have a large impact on the rest of the story. I think it was wise to keep the characters in the dark at the beginning, but that didn't mean we the readers had to be in the dark for the whole novel. I think we needed more from Janus's perspective (and not through Marcus and Winter) so that we could have a clear picture and focus but instead it just felt as though there was a need for a magic system so it got clumsily added to the end of the story.
I was anticipating something more from this one and even though I enjoyed actually listening to the book and the characters, I feel like there was too much battle details and not enough magic system/world-building for me to truly be satisfied. I am hoping there will be more in the next one, especially with an epilogue like that, so I am looking forward to reading The Shadow Throne!