Interview with DJANGO WEXLER

WexlerD-AuthorPicWelcome back to Civilian Reader. For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Django Wexler?

Hmm. Fantasy novelist, games enthusiast, student of history and economics, once and future programmer, cat wrangler. Something like that?

Your latest novel, The Infernal Battalion, will be published by Ace in January. It’s the fifth novel in your Shadow Campaigns series. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of the first four books expect from this new novel?

The Shadow Campaigns is military fantasy set in a Napoleonic world – muskets, cannon, cavalry, and subtle and hidden magic. It follows the spectacular career of Janus bet Vhalnich, a young officer who rises fast amidst a revolution, focusing on the men and women who follow him and where their loyalties truly lie. Continue reading

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Short Story Reviews, Flintlock Fantasy Edition: HOPE’S END by Brian McClellan & THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler

Two new short stories from the new wave of flintlock fantasy authors

McClellanB-HopesEndHOPE’S END by Brian McClellan

Captain Verundish has two problems. On campaign with the Adran army and far from her homeland, she is helpless when the young daughter she left at home is threatened. To make matters worse, General Tamas has put her lover in command of a Hope’s End — the first charge through a breach straight into the teeth of enemy cannon and sorcery. To save the people she loves, Verundish will have to come up with a deadly solution…

This is a pretty interesting story. A “Hope’s End” is the first charge against a fortress or other reinforced emplacement. It is pretty much guaranteed death. Tamas likes to select those who bought their commissions to lead these hopeless endeavours. In this case, however, Captain Verundish is in love with the man chosen to lead the next Hope’s End. With trouble back home (her husband is an asshole, and threatening the welfare of her daughter), the story actually opens with her contemplating suicide. Instead, she decides to volunteer to take over the Hope’s End, with the expectation of dying and guaranteeing her daughter’s financial future. Naturally, not all plans go according to plan.

Anyone who was disappointed at the lack of female characters in Promise of Blood will be pleased with Captain Verundish. She’s an interesting character, and I like the way she handles the personal and professional tests she’s presented with. The battle scene is pretty good, too – it’s focused, tightly-plotted, and not over-written. It is followed by an example of how good a leader Tamas is off the battlefield. It’s nice that McClellan has actually paid attention to developing our understanding of why Tamas is such a beloved leader – rather than just telling us that he is, and letting that be the end of it. It’s a good story. (This is set when Tamas’s son, Taniel, is only two years old.)

Well written, this is another good introduction to McClellan’s writing and fantasy world. I really like the way the author has been releasing these short stories to add more to our overall picture and understanding of the pre-coup world. Certainly recommended, and a must-read for fans of the novel. This has only increased my anticipation for The Crimson Campaign

Also on CR: The Girl of Hrusch Avenue Review, Interview with Brian McClellan, Guest Posts Favourite Novel and Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy

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Wexler-PenitentDamnedTHE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler

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 she bargained for…

I read Wexler’s The Thousand Names recently, and thought it was a very interesting start to a new series. In The Penitent Damned, the author takes us far from the location of his novel, and back to a city under control of Duke Orlanko. Alex, the protagonist, has always had special abilities which have given her an edge in her chosen profession. Schooled by a former master-thief, she has taken a job in the city. Frustratingly, to go into much more detail about the story will ruin it (it’s a very short story). We get a glimpse of more of what is going on behind the scenes. We learn just a little bit more about certain events at the end of The Thousand Names, which opens up some intriguing possibilities for the next book in the series. All very cryptic, but I think if you read the novel, and then this short story, you’ll see why I don’t want to go into too much detail. We get to see more magic in action, this time around (which didn’t feature as much in Thousand Names). And it was very cool, giving rise to some good action scenes.

Even if you haven’t read the novel, though, this is a pretty good introduction to Wexler’s writing style and fantasy world. I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet decided if they want to read The Thousand Names, as well as fans of the novel. Wexler is, I believe, definitely an author to watch. A very satisfactory short story, discussed in a rather unsatisfactory review. Sorry about that.

Also on CR: Interview with Django Wexler, Guest Post on Terry Pratchett

Review: THE THOUSAND NAMES by Django Wexler (Del Rey UK/Roc)

Wexler-ThousandNamesUKOne of my most anticipated debuts of the year – flawed, but does not disappoint overall

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

I first heard about this novel what feels like ages ago. As is usual for me, I was impatient to read it, but then ended up taking my sweet time getting around to it. It was worth the wait, though, and I think Django Wexler is definitely an author to watch. As with many highly-anticipated novels, I struggled to review it (I finished it well over a week ago). There are lots of things I would like to discuss, but they would be spoilers. There are some nitpicks that feel overly nitpicky (easy to spot in the review). So, I’m keeping this relatively short. The Thousand Names has some minor flaws, but it is nevertheless an ambitious, well-written opening act. I can’t wait for book two, and I think most readers will feel likewise after reading this. Continue reading

Interview with DJANGO WEXLER

Wexler-ThousandNamesUK-Header

I’ve been trying to remember how I first came across the name Django Wexler. It was probably via Twitter or a publisher’s catalogue. Since finding out about his next novel, The Thousand Names, I’ve had the chance to chat with Mr Wexler a good deal about fiction and more on the Twitters. With just a couple of months to go before the novel hits shelves (one of my most-anticipated novels of 2013), I thought it would be a perfect time to shoot him some questions. He agreed, so here are his responses… Continue reading