The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

Rating 8.7/10
Brilliant characters, majestic control of the story, and a fascinating world.

A Recommended Book of the Month

I’ve been finding it difficult to start this review. All of the various combinations of opening paragraphs don’t seem to work - leaving me wishing I could better express my thoughts. I wanted to start with mentioning how it had taken me a long time to finally read a Django Wexler book. Then I wanted to make reference to the character-driven stories of the Glen Cook ‘The Black Company’ style.

Failing any flashy introduction then, all I can do is start by saying that ‘The Thousand Names’ by Django Wexler is truly one of the better books I’ve read this year (pity it came out last year).

A well told story is a beautiful thing. Many authors, however, settle for an overarching style of storytelling - in which an omniscient ever-present narrator betrays any sense of mystery by seeing everything. Sometimes, though, an author will dispense with such mastery of the situation and will simply tell someone’s story.

Glen Cook did it in his Black Company series, where the overarching story was somehow simply a by-product of the lives of his characters. In much the same way (but without the Vietnam War-style narrative), Django Wexler dispenses with the all-encompassing storyline, and simply tells the story of two (and a half) characters - their interactions, their lives, and their successes.

As a result of this method of storytelling, Django Wexler has created one of my favourite ever characters. Her name is Winter, and she starts out as your stereotypical “woman pretending to be a man in a man’s army”. That stereotype doesn’t hang around long, however, and we are soon witness to the growth and maturation of one of the most impressively three-dimensional characters I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long while.

She is suitably juxtaposed against the more stoic Marcus, the other main point of view character, who doesn’t go through as much of an emotional journey, but is in no way somehow less fully-formed.

Together, these two stories intertwine (though barely joining up) to first hint, and then outline a much larger overarching story - one that is never really fleshed out until the end.

Wexler miss-stepped very rarely, which further made this book as enjoyable as it was. A few language lapses such as dragging the term ‘howitzer’ over from our real world into his fantasy world took the reader out of the story for a moment, and a seemingly-rushed checklist of conclusions left me feeling a little cheated by how obviously I now need to read the sequel.

However, I was already desperate to jump straight into the sequel, and as it’s already out, I guess I can’t complain all that much.

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler is a great book, one you should definitely pick up the moment you have a free moment. Brilliant characters, majestic control of the story, and a fascinating world make this one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

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