The Thousand Names was easily one of the best military fantasy books I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a large margin of the books available in the subgenre.
For me, this book did a number of things correct:
- There was a compelling cast of characters from different ranks within the same army. I grew attached to not only the POV characters but also their underlings and friends. The disparity between ranks also helped with the POVs having different perceptions about the war and the decisions certain commanders made as well as allowing for ‘talk’ and subplots within the army’s politics.
- The magic system, like many novels in fantasy, is used as a plot device. But unlike many novels that use this device, magic’s existence and the secrets of its power are not revealed to us until the very end. The mystery that is created with the withheld information made the book stronger as I knew all along that something supernatural was going on, and the only character that seemed to know anything is highly secretive and not a POV.
- The book tackles the idea of a female posing as a male to join the military. This is a common theme in historical fiction, especially stories based on actual accounts from the American Civil War. However, this is the first time that I’ve seen it in fantasy, and it was highly refreshing to read. The secret this character has created a lot of tension and awkward moments that made an enjoyable subplot.
- The novel breaks the traditional medieval fantasy mold with flintlock fantasy, a style of military fantasy that involves cannon and musket and is usually based on 17th, 18th, and 19th-century warfare and tactics. But instead of lining up and shooting at each other through the whole book, the tactics of guerrilla warfare are utilized.
Overall, it was a compelling story. Django is a good writer and seems to have a knack for character-driven fiction. The tension ramped up, and I couldn’t put the book down by the end. When I spend time with a group of characters, I want a full experience, to get to know them, their world, and to feel through all their struggles. Django Wexler delivers in The Thousand Names.