For about the past month, I’ve been reading Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names. As of last Wednesday, I stopped. I’ve given it the old college try, stuck with it through plague and pestilence, running solo as a parent while the wife was away at a conference, even visits from the in-laws. In that time, I only managed 80 pages…in small bites.
I’m not really sure how this one failed me. It was on my short list. I really wanted to like it. It begins with a very cool Prologue that the first…tenth – geez, this really does sound unfair – of the novel just does not manage to capitalize on.
Perhaps my expectations were off. I dug in hoping for a clash of cultures worthy of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lions of Al-Rassan. What I got was more like a British Military outpost in Afghanistan (circa 1839-42), if the military spoke more like American soldiers. It just felt…off. Compound that with the first hundred pages is all set-up. The veterans at the garrison are demoralized. A new Commander has been sent to kick them into shape and deal with the insurgent threat of a massive tribal army bent on kicking the invaders out. That sounds great, doesn’t it? And yet…The main characters we’re introduced to early on are mostly cliches: the woman masquerading as a man in the military, the soldier promoted up from down ranks who is more aware than the rest of the officers. At least the new commander is receptive to his criticisms and recommendations.
So this one goes back to the library. Sorry, but if I can’t find something to latch onto in 30 days that will keep me reading more than 3-4 pages at a stretch, the name on the book had better be Pynchon (or Delillo, I’m easy) or it’s going back. I’m not even going to rate this one for obvious reasons. If you’ve read the book and loved it…even liked it, please sing its praises in the comments section. Maybe at some point I’ll give it another shot.