The Guns of Empire is the fourth book in a series, which I read before I started participating in the Cannonball Reads and so there are no previous reviews. I’m going to try and summarize both this book and the previous books without spoiling anything, but my short recommendation is this; READ THIS SERIES. It’s fabulous. It’s an alt-world Napoleonic France with magic and cross-dressing lesbians in the French Foreign legion.
This series is a magical-alt-world mashup of the Frech Revolution, the French Foreign Legion, and the Napoleonic Wars from the point of view of a young woman who is hiding in the army disguised as a man. She fled her country thinking the woman she loved was dead, and disguised herself as a man to serve in the army occupying one of the desert colonies of her country. As the books progress, she advances in rank, and watches the advancement of a brilliant general as they fight to save the monarchy and then eventually start to conquor the surrounding countries. The magic in this book is a kind of demonic possession, forbidden by the church, and used by various characters to both aid and hinder our heros. This book is Napoleon’s attack on Russia, which goes just as well as you might expect. Obviously, the names and places are all different and there’s the added bonus of magic being used. Nevertheless, it’s essentially the long hard slog of unprepared soldiers into an unexpected winter, with the battles against a deeply fanatical peasant population.
Honestly, for as much as I love this series, this was the hardest book for me to get through. I don’t much enjoy reading about battles, and this book-moreso then the previous books- was a lot of battles and fighting. However, the characters are just as engaging as they’ve always been, and I am eagerly anticipating the last book.
If you enjoy Brandon Sanderson and his Mistborn series, I really think you’ll like this. And as a bonus, I personally think that Wexler writes women better then Sanderson does. For whatever reason, I’m always aware that Sanderson is a male writer when I read his books and something about his women is just off. They’re fine characters, but they’re women as written by men as opposed to women if that makes any sense. I had to double check three or four times when I first started this series to verify that Wexler was male.