A sleepy colonial outpost in the sun-scorched land of Khandar is awakened when a rebel uprising chases the Vordanai Colonial Regiment from the Khandar capital city of Ashe-Katarion. The seasoned Colonials, forced to retreat to a small coastal fortress, hope that the newly-arrived ships from Vordan have come to take them home. Instead, the boats bear fresh recruits along with the enigmatic Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has come to take command of the regiment and win back control of the city for the deposed prince and cousin of the king of Vordan. At the center of these events is Captain Marcus D’Ivoire, who assumed command of the regiment following the death of the previous colonel, and Winter Ihernglass, who joined the army disguised as a man to escape from her past. Entwined throughout is a dark, powerful magic that groups on both sides are risking life and death to obtain.
The Thousand Names starts slowly, as the reader is introduced to the Vordanai Colonials and their military capabilities and tactics. A good number of pages are spent early on explaining different combat formations, which are a bit dry at first but soon become relevant as the Colonials embark on a campaign to retake Ashe-Katarion, despite being severely outnumbered.
The book rotates between Marcus’s and Winter’s points of view, with a few chapters interspersed offering the other side’s perspective. Marcus is the typical honor-bound soldier, but is soon put in the awkward position of balancing his loyalty to the old Colonials, who would sooner jump on the next ship back home than fight another battle, and his duty to the new colonel, who seems to be too clever for his own good. However, it is Winter who really drives the action of the book. At the start, Winter is a lowly ranker making every effort not to stand out, lest someone discover her secret. With the arrival of the new colonel, she is forced to assume command of a company and is thrust into the center of combat, and Winter grows substantially as a character in subsequent battles. Marcus, unfortunately, does not show the same growth and mainly serves as a plot driver, although in most cases, he is an observer of events rather than an active participant.
While all of the events in the book take place in Khandar, Wexler subtly hints at a much larger world that will hopefully be explored in future books, and Wexler has penned a short story that takes place prior to the events of The Thousand Names, although I would recommend reading the short story second so as not to spoil anything.