The Thousand NamesPosted: September 24, 2013
The book is set in a fantasy world that bears a remarkable resemblance to nineteenth century Earth. Vordan (a European-style empire/nation) has been occupying Khandar (a North African-style country that seems very similar to Egypt and the Sudan rolled into one) and has trained and equipped a locally-raised army for Khandar’s princely ruler. The story begins just after a religious movement (The Redemption) has swept through Khandar, destroying all those who are not ‘true believers’.
The Vordanai forces – the Colonial Regiment – and the Prince of Khandar have fled to an old fortress on the coast and await an evacuation back to Vordan. Threatening them are an untrained army of Redeemer volunteers, the former soldiers of the Prince’s Vordan-trained army, and the nomadic desert tribes (Bedouin-like tribesmen).The evacuation does not come; what comes are untrained ‘reinforcements’ for the Colonials and a new commander – Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. He plans to defeat the Redeemers and reassert Vordanai control.
The story is told from the point-of-view of two main characters, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Ranker (later Sergeant/Acting Lieutenant) Winter Ihernglass. Captain Marcus d’Ivoire is a professional soldier who served as second-in-command of the Colonials under the previous colonel (until the latter was killed in a skirmish with Redeemer troops) and now serves in the same role under Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich. Winter Ihernglass is a young woman who is masquerading as a man so that she could enlist as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials to escape from a dark secret from her past.
I am about halfway through the book and I must admit that I am enjoying it for two reasons. Firstly the background to the book is one that I am familiar with (it is not a million miles removed from some of the situations I have used in my own colonial imagi-nation wargames). Secondly the magic/fantasy elements in the story are not overplayed or overused. As a result they do not dominate the storyline … which I think is a good thing.
I look forward to finishing this book … and I can see it spawning a number of HOTT armies amongst other wargamers who read it.
According to the ‘blurb’ I have read, Django Wexler ‘graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not planning Shadow Campaigns, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.’ (The underlining is mine.)
Perhaps I can now begin to understand why I am enjoying this novel so much!