September 13 2013

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a fantastic multi-layered novel. I don’t want to get too specific about what the layers are as discovering them is part of the delight and sorrow contained in the book. On one layer, it is about the events that happen to two young English women in WWII. One becomes a pilot and one a spy who is captured by the Gestapo.
Both of these young women are brought to life in the pages with amazing vibrancy. We enter the tale as the captured woman writes of her story and the story of the pilot at the command and coercion of the Gestapo. This is another layer–a story being told as a story is being told.
I’m not going to venture with many more details other than that I enjoyed the book immensely and highly recommend it.

September 12 2013

The Thousand Names

I had a great deal of fun reading The Thousand Names by Django Wexler. This is a bright new fantasy set in an era roughly on par technologically with our own Napoleonic era but not in our world.
The story is mainly told from the point of view of two characters. One of the these characters is Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, the commander of what he presumes to be a soon evacuated garrison of Vordanai soldiers in the remote land of Khandar. He is pretty sure they will be evacuated as we find him settled in an out of date fort along the Khandar coast. The Vordanai have been forced to retreat here from the capital due to a religious rebellion among the Khandari.
The other pov character is Winter Ihernglass. We meet Winter as a ranker in the Vordanai forces who has been hiding out and masquerading as a man (we find this out right away). We get a view of the soldiers from the top and the bottom here.
When the new commander, Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, arrives both Winter and Marcus assumptions are overturned as Janus shows he is determined to advance into Khandar rather than load everyone back into the ships. I enjoyed Janus’ characterization very much. Some mystery and a very nice job of showing rather than telling.
The battle scenes in the book are very well done. I’ve read some accounts of battles with infantry squares and cannon work and this matched up very well.
The magic has a brief appearance at the start of the book and then slowly builds through the rest. There is a nice little mystery regarding magic use here also–you’ll see.
I thought all of the sides in the conflict (there are more than two) are portrayed well. There are good and bad characters among the Vordanai and the Khandari just as you will find at large in the world.
I am quite looking forward to book 2.