The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler
A Recommended Book of the Month
It is important to realise that no one has ever consumed any media in a vacuum. Whether it be TV, a movie, opera, or book, no one has ever consumed it separated from their own history, personality, likes and dislikes, fears, and psychological-makeup. Some people proclaim that they are able to do so, but they are lying to themselves – they are, whether they like it or not, still humans, with all the past mistakes and glories and dreams that are inherent in being a human. Just because they say they have come at a story with no preconceptions, they have nevertheless consumed that story through the lens of who they are.
--This is even more important to realise if one chooses to review said stories (or whether you want to attack said reviewer). We might profess to be unbiased in our reviews, or impartial to anything but objective metrics, but the reality is that art is not objective – it is not math, with a right and a wrong answer.
There is simply no objectivity to art.
Minor spoilers for The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler follow.
This might sound like an unnecessary (and even oft-repeated) tangent for a review of a single book – and you’d likely be accurate (on both accounts). My response, however, is simply to say, I can’t offer you objectivity, but I can at least be upfront. As such, I will say that I suffer from anxiety and depression, and have always been overly sentimental and sensitive. I have detachment and abandonment issues which I will likely carry with me through to the grave, and which influence far too many of my decisions.
They also over-influence my consumption of stories – especially stories penned by authors as brilliant as Django Wexler.
Wexler is, in my own humble estimation, one of the best of a new breed of fantasy authors which have sprung up over the last five to ten years, following in the footsteps of authors like Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, and James Barclay (who themselves followed in the footsteps of Robert Jordan, Ursula Le Guin, and David Gemmell). In fact, Django Wexler stands as one of my favourite ever fantasy authors, and most definitely ranks as one of the top three authors that I await a new book from.
His The Shadow Campaigns books hit me from out of nowhere, and introduced me to some of my favourite ever characters – Winter, Cyte, Marcus, Raesinia. In the fourth book in the series, The Guns of Empire, we are introduced to the fact that the series has so far taken place across a relatively short amount of time, but it nevertheless feels like I have known these characters all my life. I have experienced heartache and joy with them, visceral emotions that leap off the page and draw you, the reader, deep into the folds of the narrative.
Django Wexler may not have the intricate battlefield techniques of a Miles Cameron, or the expansive narrative of a Brandon Sanderson, but he weaves together a story that is all the more personal and intimate for the focus he places on the characters, rather than getting too bogged down in a particular skillset (which inherently hides a lack in another skillset).
The Guns of Empire continues the adventures of the numerous characters that Wexler has introduced over the series, and pushes events forward to what is shaping up to be a world-spanning, cataclysmic showdown.
And yet – as I explained to Django Wexler over Twitter as I reached the end of Part 2 – it could be that the author has clung too tightly to the idea that a writer must “kill your darlings”.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand the premise: A writer’s attachment to a character must not exceed reality, and subsequently bring them through all and sundry unharmed. However, as with everything, there are equal and opposite reactions, and I think some authors tend to veer too far the other way, killing off anyone who moves in a heartfelt but unnecessary (and sometimes distracting) effort to ensure they are being “realistic”.
As a result, The Guns of Empire left me feeling, repeatedly, emotionally desolate. I freely admit – and it’s why I began this review as I did – that I am bringing my own emotional baggage to the table. But because Django Wexler writes in such an intimate and character-driven manner, I am less able to deal with the far-too-frequent major- and minor-character deaths throughout this book. Glen Cook and Steven Erikson, too, have this penchant for wilful destruction of their dramatis personae, but they don’t write quite so close to the characters as Wexler does, and as a result, I can’t help but walk away from The Guns of Empire feeling not only as if I’ve lost friends, but as if they died unnecessarily.
I’m well aware that is likely the point – is in fact the point of authors such as Glen Cook and co. – but because Wexler invested me so deeply into his characters and their lives, I also feel as if I can see both the deaths as unnecessary in life as well as in this fiction.
Nevertheless, my own abandonment and detachment issues aside, The Guns of Empire nevertheless only serves to further cement Django Wexler as one of the best authors currently writing, and his work as truly spellbinding. I am as excited and eager for the next book in the series as I am any author’s work, and am secretly pulling for a deus ex machina plot twist to save at least one of the characters from being stone dead (see what I did there, Django?).
This The Guns of Empire book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: The Shadow Campaigns
The Penitent Damned
The Shadow Campaigns
Alex is a master thief, with dark magic to give her an edge. When she goes up against Duke Orlanko's Concordat secret police, though, she may have taken on more than sh...
The Thousand Names
The Shadow Campaigns #1
The King of Vordan is dying, and his daughter, Raesinia, is destined to become the first Queen in centuries – and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to cont...
The Shadow Throne
The Shadow Campaigns #2
The King of Vordan is dying, and his daughter, Raesinia, is destined to become the first Queen in centuries. But politics knows no loyalties, especially for Duke Orlanko, M...
The Price of Valour
The Shadow Campaigns #3
In the wake of the King's death, war has come to Vordan. The new queen, Raesinia, is nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her lif...
The Guns of Empire
The Shadow Campaigns #4
As the roar of the guns subsides and the smoke of battle clears, the country of Vordan is offered a fragile peace... After their shattering defeats at the hands of brillian...
Have you read The Guns of Empire?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Guns of Empire reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen
Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discont...
Chronicles of the Black Company
Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead. Then comes the prophec...
On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend. For cen...
Shadow Ops series
Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer. Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the d...
The Rigante Novels
Born in the storm that doomed his father, Connavar grows to manhood among the mist-covered mountains of Caer Druagh, where the Rigante tribe dwell in harmony with the land ...
The First Law
Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body...
The Ascendants of Estorea
The Estorean Conquord has stood for 850 years. Its Advocate, Herine Del Aglios, knows that she presides over the greatest civilisation in history. But she wants more. And i...
The Drenai Novels
The Legend Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, hig...
The Aspect Emperor
R Scott Bakker
A score of years after he first walked into the histories of Men, Anasurimbor Kellhus rules all the Three Seas, the first true Aspect-Emperor in a thousand years. The masse...
Chronicles of the Raven
The Raven have fought together for years, six men carving out a living as swords for hire in the war that has torn Balaia apart, loyal only to themselves and their code. Bu...
Prince of Nothing
R Scott Bakker
A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns... A veteran sorcerer and spy seeks new...
The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of...
Legends of the Raven
The Raven travel to a new continent in search of mages to help the ruined college of Julatsa rebuild . . . and find themselves in the midst of an ancient curse - a curse th...
The People of the Black Circle
Robert E Howard
Conan the Cimmerian: he rose from boy-thief and mercenary to become kingof Aquilonia. Neither supernatural fiends nor demonic sorcery could oppose the barbarian warrior as ...
A man wakes in the wilderness, amid scattered corpses and inquisitive crows. He has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. The only clues to his former existenc...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be. Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outs...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...