Django Wexler’s debut novel was my first journey into the wonderful new genre of Flintlock fantasy and boy does it pack a punch! For those unfamiliar with this genre, it is the the idea of magic meets guns in a fantasy world. Set in the foreign desert land of Khondar, the Vordani empire has set up a coastal garrison to keep the locals in check and to bring the local resources back to the empire. That is until a rebellion starts with the local leaders and Vordanai commanders are forced to retreat back to their fortress waiting for reinforcements to arrive. A young, ambitious Colonel named Janus bet Vhalnich is sent by the king of Vordanai to restore order, but the commander is much more than what he seems. Janus has is own prerogatives and plans to set in motion that will change the known world.
The story is told thorough the eyes of two main POV characters. The first character is Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of the Khondar Garrison that is under attack before Janus comes to save the day. Marcus is an older, well respected leader of his men and the most loyal person you could find in this book, almost to a fault. We also have Winter Ihernglass, a female soldier masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. When circumstances arise that sees Winter promoted to command, the wits ands skills will be tested in more ways than one. Learning about Winters past and why she ultimately decide to join the army was the best character moments in the book and will have readers cheering her on through her journey.
The shinning start in the novel is Janus, even though he is not a POV character. Mr. Wexler does a fantastic of portraying Janus through the eyes of Marcus, but still having the restrain to keep Janus at a distance not only to Marcus but the reader as well. Marcus is enthralled when he discovers that Janus is not only the most intelligent commander he has ever seen, but also a brilliant strategist even if the ultimate goal is not always known. Janus entrusts Marcus to march his men deep into the desert to uncover a religious secret that will change the spiritual landscape in Vordanai forever. and This builds up the suspense and action to the climax and from there is no turning back, you are in it for the long haul.
What makes Django Wexler such a great author is his attention to when it comes to the battle field and military strategies Janus, Marcus, and Winter experience in the Thousand Names. From the battle formations, to the scouting teams, division of the brigades, the descriptions of the guns, and even down to the types of bullets used in the war is something I have never experienced in a fantasy novel. You can definitely tell that Mr. Wexler did research and put in a lot of manhours in drafting this novel. Magic is prevalent in this world, but it introduced in small doses throughout the story and it just adds to the tension of the novel nicely. Mr. Wexler’s writing style I would say is more detail oriented than your typical fantasy novel and it did take me some time to get use to it. However, the characters and epic battle scenes are what kept the pages turning for me and readers will have little trouble being drawn into the story.
I would highly recommend the Thousand Names to anyone who has read the Powder Mage Series and anyone who is looking for something different in the fantasy genre. This novel may be about a military campaign, but the pacing is great and you will love following the characters with all the twist and turns they have to endure. I consider Mr. Wexler along with Brian McClellan to be the modern godfathers of Flintlock Fantasy and I hope you will dive into the trenches with me to prepare for the war to come, one bullet at a time. Congrats Mr. Wexler, you are one for one, or should I say one shot one kill!