17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
The Thousand Names,
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This review is from: The Thousand Names: The Shadow Campaign (Shadow Campaigns Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I took a chance on this book, and had reasonably high hopes for it, but my overriding feeling towards it for most of its 500+ pages was 'meh'. It's a military fantasy, which has immediately caused people to draw comparisons to the likes of Glen Cook and Steven Erikson, which is what suckered me into buying it. Sadly, it's undermined by its drab characterisation and totally predictable storyline. And when I say totally predictable, I mean *totally* predictable. If it had been a movie I would've been throwing things at the screen because it was so obvious what was going to happen. Even the big 'twist' is completely obvious from very early in the book. Okay, there was one bit that took me by surprise and - unsurprisingly - it was the best part of the book. But it didn't last long.
In a George R. R. Martin stylee - something which is getting old now - each chapter is told from the point of view of one character, whose name appears at the beginning of each section. However, there are only two main characters, one of whom - Winter Ihernglass - is vaguely interesting, and the other - Marcus D'Ivoire - is so bland and boring that I found each of his chapters a trial of patience and endurance. Winter is a woman posing as a man in the army and even though she is the more interesting character, Django doesn't do nearly enough with her situation. In fact, he gets around all of her potential problems by having her buy her own tent so that she doesn't have to share with anyone.
This is a military fantasy, so you expect battle scenes - and they are there, lots of them. But they are written without any flair or sense of peril. I never once felt thrilled or tense and, because I didn't care about the characters, I was never bothered about what happened to them, and the progress through the campaign seems to flow along far too easily. The dialogue is another weak point, usually involving one character asking another 'How are you feeling?' or, more likely, 'What shall we do now?'. There's no zip, wit or punchiness that makes good dialogue, to my mind, and therefore the characters remain flat and stale.
Coming off the back of reading Anthony Ryan's storming Blood Song, where the author took standard fantasy tropes and worked absolute wonders, I feel that Wexler has taken a fairly innovative setting (desert-based with Napoleonic technology) and missed the mark by a fair way. There was real potential here, I think, but it's been lost somewhere along the line. This is the first of a series, so he can always put it right. At the moment, though, this Django is still chained.
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Initial post: 3 Jul 2014 02:09:42 BDT
Mr. T. Stacey says:
A like purely for that amazing last sentence :)
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