Speaking of flintlock fantasy, the first thing that came to the reader’s mind would probably be The Powder Mage by Brian McClellan, which I loved, but I have a good feeling just from this first book out of five in The Shadow Campaigns series that it will eventually topple The Powder Mage.
If you truly want to know what the premise of the book is about, I strongly suggest you to just read the blurb of the book; it’s spoiler-free and enticing enough. The Thousand Names is a military fantasy reminiscent of Napoleonic Wars with Desert settings, the first half of the book focused mostly on a single campaign; this first half is also why the book didn’t receive 5 stars from me. It’s not because of the slow start or because the plot isn’t engaging, but it’s because there’s way too many attention on the actions even though the two main characters haven’t received enough characterizations for me to care about yet; especially Marcus.
If you feel the same as me during your time of reading the first half of this book, I strongly urge you to persevere. The last half made up for its lack of characterizations in the first half wonderfully. Marcus’s and Winter’s characterizations and background are slowly revealed and by the end of this book, I’m already very invested in the journey of both the main and side characters.
“Can you be haunted by someone who isn’t dead?”
I also have to praise Django for writing such a well written female characters, especially the main female character, Winter. Although Winter is pretty much a more badass version of Mulan, I found her situations and personalities in my fantasy read a unique experience. It’s also evident that not only Django did a lot of research on her character, the action scenes received the same treatment; maybe even more.
My biggest praise of this book however will have to go to the intricately written battle scenes. They’re unique in an epic fantasy series as Django centered the action scenes towards musketry and strategy rather than its magic system. There’s some magic at play here for sure but they’re minim and when they do appear, because of their rarity they have an effect of making the plot more engaging. Most of the battle scenes feature an infantry/hollow square formation that’s heavily used in Napoleonic Wars, like this picture below.
Picture: A depiction of a Napoleonic-era British infantry square at the Battle of Quatre Bras, Belgium, 1815. (Picture was taken from Wikipedia)
The Thousand Names is a debut that’s filled with great characterizations, gradually introduced world-building and engrossing action scenes. The first book ended with a highly well-written climax sequences that at the same time, also serves as a great setup for the sequel; because of that, I’m going to continue immediately to the second book of the series right after posting this review. All in all, this is truly a wonderful addition to the flintlock fantasy genre that every fans of the genre should try.