Book Cover
Title The Penitent Damned
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art ---
Publisher 2013
First Printing 2013
Notes Free eBook
Book Cover
Title The Thousand Names
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art Steve Stone
Publisher Del Rey - 2013
First Printing Roc - 2013
Book Cover
Title The Shadow Throne
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art Paul Youll
Publisher Roc - 2014
First Printing Roc - 2014
Book Cover
Title The Shadow of Elysium
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art ---
Publisher ---
First Printing ---
Notes Ebook Only
Book Cover
Title The Price of Valour
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art Steve Stone
Publisher DelRey - 2015
First Printing Roc - 2015
Book Cover
Title ???
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art ---
Publisher ---
First Printing ---
Book Cover
Title ???
Author Django Wexler
Cover Art ---
Publisher ---
First Printing ---
Category Flintlock/Gunpower/Military Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Marcus d'Ivoire, Janus Vhalnich, Winter Ihernglass, Bobby Forester, Jennifer Alhunt, Fitz Warus, Feor, Alex, Duke Orlanko, Raesinia, Sothe, Jane Verity
Main Elements Wizards, demons
Website djangowexler.com




Click to read the summaryThe Penitent Damned

Click to read the summaryThe Thousand Names

Click to read the summaryThe Shadow Throne

Click to read the summaryThe Price of Valour




Now normally I'm more into swords and sorcery than guns and powder but having enjoyed Rogues of Black Fury I thought I would give this fantasy genre another try...

And I couldn't put the darn thing down. Now if you're looking for something super fast paced with non-stop action then this might not be for you, but I liked my books to take their time. I don't mean drag along till you fall asleep, but to pause now and then so we actually get to appreciate the characters and the world in which they are exist.

And the characters really drive this story. We see the world through the eyes of a handful of characters, each one being privy to different knowledge so that on the whole the reader knows more than any one character but at the same time, doesn't know what they do not. It was easy to get attached to Winter, Marcus, Janus and so many others, to want to know more about their past, present, future and their internal demons. In fact, so much so that the moment I finished the book I was right away looking to see if the sequel had already been published!

Also, the military aspect, rather than taking away from the the story for a non-military book reader, I found added to it. Wexler has a way of describing the day to day functioning of the army in a way that is fascinating and never boring. The mechanics of moving several thousand men around while keeping them fed and alive is no small task.

The world building was good too. While not something terribly unique, was just an alternate Europe/Middle East, still made you want to read to find out what made it subtely different from our world. The magic system too was barely hinted at, there is a lot more to learn, but it *is* there, and the tease of it was better than outright battles between magic wielders. The reader is left wondering who is the wizard, or if there even is one. I'll admit I figured out a few of the twists before they were officially revealed but the hints were there for those who looked for them.

Finally, Wexler has done something which I thought was impossible. See, my imagination is incapable of visualizing a battle scene. I can't even begin to count the number of books where there's a big battle going on, and I'm picturing something when an something happens, and it shatters the moment because clearly I had envisioned the scene wrong and something impossible just happened. I'd gotten used to that and just accepted it. But in The Thousand Names I could really picture the battles they were so well described. The imagery of an entire battalion in a square, bayonets bristling, a mad calvalry of desert raiders bearing down on them, was clear in my mind.

The Penitent Damned - May 2015
At only 20 pages long, it was a very short, but welcome return to the world of the Shadow Campaigns. Though a prequel to The Thousand Names, I'd suggest reading it afterwards since it gives some spoilers to the first book in the series (and in fact there is nothing about it that places it at any particular moment in the timeline). We are introduced to a couple new characters, and we get to meet another who was only mentioned in The Thousand Names. It just makes me all the more eager to get my hands on The Shadow Throne!

The Shadow Throne - July 2015
The Price of Valour - July 2015
I ended up reading these books back to back. In The Shadow Throne we returns from the land of desert nomads to the civilized capital city of Vordan. But civilized doesn't mean safe, on the contrary, political intrigues and ambitions of power are in the forefront. Duke Orlanko intends to rule through Princess Raesinia, a girl with a secret he can control, after all he's the head of the Concordat and all secrets are his...

So we go from big battles in the first book, to what is best described in my mind as a game of thrones. What goes on in the shadows, behind the scenes. The manipulations, the assassins, a battle of minds rather than brawn.

Frankly, when Raesinia showed up I was like, but I want to read about the other characters! But she grew on me, grew on me a lot. She's quirky and pragmatic. The Black Order gave her a demon to save her life, and to have a way to blackmail her into submission, she can now no longer die. she has amusing moments of wondering, if she were to be dismembered, would she regrow all her parts starting from her head, or would Sothe have to gather up all her pieces and put them back together.

We also develop Winter's storyline as she is reunited with Jane, her lover from when they were orphans together. But time and experience has had an effect on them and you can't always go back to the way things were.

There were still some fights, not military ones but a revolution of the people...which leads me to the third book, which begins with the consequences of revolution. Sometimes you overthrown one really nasty guy, only to have the power vaccuum suck up some other really nasty guy in his place. Be careful what you wish for.

In the Price of Valour we get the best of both worlds of the first two books. You get your big military battles and strategies, but the political intrigue is going on strong as ever behind the scenes. And suddenly, after three books of being impressed by Vhalnich's ability to come out on top of every situation smelling like roses, is there something more going on there? Does he have supernatural help? And more vexing, what does the guy want? If he wanted the throne he could take it, so there was clearly something else. Is he the good guy we think he is? Or is he the next Orlanko/Black Order? Does he care for the people around him, or are they just pawns he puts in place in the hopes that by having the right one in the right place at the right time they will handle the situations he predicts will arise.

Wexler makes his world real, you believe in it and its people can exist. There is geography, culture, history, and well defined magic that follows set rules. Ok, I had to suspend a bit of disbelief at the outcome of one of the battles in the third book, but I think something will get explained about Vhalnich before the series is done, I think there's something going on there we just don't know yet.

Which leads me to how I like how Wexler teases the reader a little bit. For example in The Thousand Names you know there's supposed to be magic, but you don't know who has it. In fact, as you get decently far into it you begin to wonder if anyone does. The Price of Valour does something else, takes a main character who you've grown to love, and then start to question his motivations. I really hope, even if I have to wait till the final book, to read some chapters from his point of view. I can't imagine what the inside of that guy's head must be like.

To me the characters are what really make these books work, and the characters evolve. They go from hero worship to questioning motives. Making hard choices about where they fit in the world. Ah poor Marcus, left in the city to "babysit" Raesinia, and in the end probably having a far more "exciting" time of things than anyone on the campaign with Vhalnich. A good-guy character like that can easily come off as a caricature but he's definitely one of my favorites. A man so unimaginative, who when running into Winter in a dress, thinks "Ah, Ihernglass is in disguise...don't see how anyone is fooled, he doesn't look like a girl at all", who blushes at the thought of women in the military, who has to grapple with the concept of magic. And Winter, so used to pretending to be a man that even when the opportunity arises to be herself, she finds her fake persona a more comfortable fit. It's not often you find such strong female characters. None of the characters are all knowing, all have to puzzle their way through things.

The only other flintlock/gunpowder fantasy I've read is The Rogues of the Black Fury, so I don't have a lot to compare this to, but Wexler has made me love the genre. I mean reading about a bunch of guys lining up in ordered rows taking pot shots at each other didn't sound all that thrilling, but the strategy behind turns out to be completely engrossing. Hard to imagine that this series is now definitely one of my top 5 favorites.

I don't know how I'll be able to wait till next year for book four. At least there's another short story for me to hunt down and devour in the meantime. There is so much potential as to where the story can go from here that I can't even begin to guess what will happen next.




Posted: September 2014

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