The Thousand Names Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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With this stunning series opener, Django Wexler leaps to the upper echelon of today’s best fantasy authors. The Thousand Names opens his Shadow Campaigns series with a tale of bloody rebellion that will reshape an empire -- and a world. Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass see their fortunes rise under the command of military genius Janus bet Vhalnich. But Janus’ obsession with the supernatural portends a dire fate for the realm.
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|Listening Length||22 hours and 13 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 02, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #73,403 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1,802 in Classic Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,919 in Paranormal Fantasy
#3,095 in Epic Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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That’s essentially the question Django Wexler explores in his flintlock fantasy The Thousand Names. But he uses an alternate universe to run his literary simulation.
The story is set in Khandar, an arid colony of the Vordanai empire. A local religious movement known as the Redemption has overthrown the Khandarai prince and chased the Vordanai garrison from the capital. Things look grim for the evicted troops until an eccentric and uncommonly intelligent colonel arrives with orders to crush the rebellion. More covertly, he’s also seeking a Khandarai artifact imbued with arcane power.
The early parts of the novel are light on magic, though. Much of the book reads like military fiction, focusing on the campaign the Vordanai wage against the acolytes and allies of the Redemption. Muskets figure heavily into the fighting, as do cannon, cavalry, and Napoleonic-era infantry formations. At times, I felt as if I were revisiting one of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe novels. (Not a bad thing!)
I also enjoyed the protagonists. Wexler primarily tells the story through the eyes of two Vordanai officers, one a senior captain and the other a “ranker” on the climb. They’re both easy to root for. So are the majority of the supporting characters.
But I wish we’d gotten more of the Khandarai perspective.
In the book’s acknowledgments, Wexler writes that, “This is not, in any sense, a historical novel. At best it was inspired by history, in the loosest Hollywood sense of the word.” The Thousand Name’s imperial dynamics feel like more than a loose parallel to reality, however. The Vordanai, no matter how sympathetically drawn, are ultimately pale-skinned invaders; the indigenous Khandarai have darker complexions, ranging in hue from “pale ash” to “brown-black.” Given that the colonel is modeled after Napoleon and possesses similar military genius, it makes sense that the Vordanai often have a tactical advantage. Yet some of their victories made me wince; I didn’t always appreciate being expected to cheer for the occupying force. Replacing one of the Vordanai officers with a Khandarai point of view might have complicated the reader’s loyalties in more compelling ways.
To be fair, we do get a few chapters featuring native characters. Wexler also generally depicts the Khandarai as a complex people composed of multiple subcultures and factions. And the Vordanai don’t come off as morally superior; there are plenty of bad apples serving under (and opposing) the colonel. The book isn’t an apology for colonialism—I’d still recommend The Thousand Names to anyone who enjoys historical fantasy with a martial bent.
But the story could have been even better if it were more balanced.
What's very different about the action in this book is that the viewpoint characters are commanders, meaning that they generally only direct the soldiers, unless things are going very wrong. The flintlock rifles and bayonets also make for very different action from what I'm used to. To make this even more different from the average fantasy novel, there is very little world building for almost the whole book, and while magic is mentioned as a possibility, it really doesn't come into play until the last chapters. To me, this works and I did really enjoy what's there, but it just took me a while to get through all of it. This book was a very high 4 stars for me, and I would recommend it, especially for fantasy fans looking for something different. I'll be picking up the sequel when it comes out, but I just hope it's a little more exciting, and honestly it'll probably be very different since it'd be tough to replicate the journey of A Thousand Names.
Top reviews from other countries
The beginning of the book I found a bit of a slog to read; info-dumps, awkward names and the lack of any movement didn't convince me early on that this was something I'd want to continue reading.
Once the plot gets moving though, the main strength of the book comes to the fore: its characters. The two POV focus-points, Marcus and Winter, are given backgrounds, real personality and are the kinds that make understandable decisions as the plot progresses: they're likeable, and really helped turn large parts of the book into compelling reading for me that otherwise wouldn't have been.
The plot itself isn't particularly interesting, the Arabia-esque desert style setting works fine, but most of the book simply follows an army from engagement-to-engagement. Action set-pieces a-plenty are fine, though verging on getting a little tired toward the latter half, but do serve effectively to broaden out the POV characters and the interesting set of secondary characters, particularly the mercurial Colonel Vhalnich.
The final stages of the book introduce a magic system. Subtly hinted at earlier in various chapters, its final revelation isn't exactly spectacular – the religious overtones not helping one bit – but was effective enough, despite a tame "boss-battle", that I'd be interested in finding out the next part in the stories of Winter, Janus and the captain.
I'm not exactly running to The Shadow Throne (the follow-up novel), but I'll get to it at some point.
The rest of the book didn't really grip me. I'm not sure if the military aspect of the book was too dominant (which wouldn't be the book's fault, since that's its genre) or if me and Marcus just didn't click. Sadly half the book is about Marcus, and I just couldn't bring myself to care about him or his arc.
The world building is clever and intricate, the magic system promising. I thought the first half of the book was quite slow, and I ended up finding the bad guys much more interesting than the good guys. I wish we could have seen more of the other side. Their magic is nifty!
Maybe in the next book?
Other than the convincing fighting, the greatest strength here is the characterization. You will really care about Winter, about Count Janus the superbly gifted and eccentric colonel, well-meaning Marcus, and the others.
I might mention that I come to fantasy largely for those moments when ‘something else’ – call it magic, call it poetry – shines through. In this book that didn’t happen for a while; but then it did. The moments when that happens here are comparatively few, but they are all powerful.
There is a lot here that will linger in the memory. Recommended.
It's a sort of Joe Abercrombie type of a Sharpe (you know, the real Bernard Cornwall books; I do hope I've got his name right, that'd be embarrassing...)
but yes, a Joe Abercrombie version. so it's kind of like a book which is gritty and realistic; I love gritty and realistic. but it's not really either.
the goodies are unilaterally good. the baddies are simply bad. the twist isn't very unexpected.
but like the aforementioned JA, it's a really good story, with engaging characters who have their own voices and motivations. the world is to simplistic to compare to Steven Erikson, Robert Jordan or GRRM, but it works.
in this post game of thrones fantasy genre, where awful books are churned out to cash in, this is a good story and a very enjoyable read. there isn't much better.
actually, the red knight by miles Cameron is much better.but if you've read that, this is also pretty good.
I’ve come to find –recently in particular- that I am a great fan of military fantasy, which I think The Thousand Names should certainly be classed as. The fact as well that it challenges the traditional ‘sword and shield’ fantasy trope, made the read a voyage of discovery for me.
I engaged with the plot quickly, enjoying the fact that ‘magic’ was considered mysterious by the protagonists and was therefore side-lined to a certain extent. While the twists were a little predictable in places (at the risk of spoilers, one of the characters not being what (s)he seemed), the ingenuity displayed by the protagonists in various of the tight spots they found themselves in was incredibly entertaining.
Overall I found the book very entertaining, in large part for its focus on the military and campaigning aspects. The way the sequel was set up in the last chapter makes me wonder whether or not I will enjoy it to the same extent. On the strength of The Thousand Names however, I am certainly willing to give it more than a chance.