The Shadow Throne: Book Two of the Shadow Campaigns
by Django Wexler
Cover Artist: Paul Youll
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451418067
Date: 01 July 2014 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Fresh from victory, Janus bet Vhalnich, Captain Marcus d'Ivoire, and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass return to Vordan. The situation there teeters as the King is on his deathbed. His sole heir is his daughter, Raesinia Orboan. Raesinia is young and inexperienced. Waiting to take power is Duke Orlanko, the Minister of Information. When the king dies, everything will break loose as plans are set in motion.
All is not what it seems. Raesina has hidden her true talents and strength, knowing that Orlanko plans to use her. But with her father's death close, she needs to move forward her own plans to use the people's satisfaction to secure her own rights. Winter comes home still in search of a friend who haunts her dreams. The one she left behind, Jane.
When it all breaks loose, the hidden powers of several of the main characters will come into play. The magic of this world is based on spirits that come to exist inside some humans. They can manifest through special rituals and using their secret names, or sometimes they emerge without any rites. The list of names the Vhalnich found has the power to bring forth many of these spirits.
Each character has a role to play. Disguises and alternate identities play a big role in the action. Winter playing a man playing a woman is one of the funnier twists. Although it does leave Marcus looking foolish.
The story follows several point of view characters in the third person. There is a switch in that Marcus plays a lesser role in this novel and Winter a bigger one. This makes sense as the needs of the story dictate less time spent on military characters and more on espionage.
This is the second book in the Shadow Campaign. As a second novel it isn't the best starting point, but because the action is so displaced from that in the first novel it could be read as a standalone. The series mixes magic and technology well. It is similar to the Imager Portfolio by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. in that respect.
The city of Vordan is quite similar to Paris in the early nineteenth century. Some of the action is reminiscent of the French Revolution. Once a revolution starts, there is often no way to control the path it will take. The best laid plans can run afoul of happenstance and even magic doesn't change that.
I'd heard good things about Wexler's writing, but I hadn't had the chance to read his work until recently. I was not disappointed in The Thousand Names, nor in this novel. I look forward to the continuing action. Wexler intertwines the tangle of intrigue into a compelling story. It will be interesting to see the continued conflict between the states and individuals in the next novel.