The Price of Valor: Wexler’s strongest work so far

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The Price of Valor by Django Wexler epic fantasy book reviewsThe Price of Valor by Django Wexler

Warning: May contain mild spoilers for the preceding books.

If The Shadow Throne combined war and politics, the amalgam of these elements Django Wexler presents in The Price of Valor is much more effective and well-balanced. The latest installment in THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS, The Price of Valor sees our protagonists battle both militarily and politically for Vordan’s freedom. After the Sworn Church persuaded the nations of the world to declare war on Vordan, Vordan finds itself in an unenviable position — strained both in terms of finances and troops, with an unstable domestic political arena to boot! Though Janus is securing the border on one front, Vordan’s nemeses are closing in on another as Queen Raesinia finds that Vordan’s new President is not what he appears to be. Most notably for me, Winter’s love life gains some complications, which is part of what makes The Price of Valor so much more powerful than Wexler’s previous two THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS novels.

As Winter and Jane march with Janus, their relationship becomes more and more strained as the chasm of difference between the two women widens. Of course I didn’t enjoy the romantic rockiness here, but the device was very effective in terms of character development and depth. Winter’s story adds some much-needed internal conflict mostly missing from books one and two and complements the main story arc quite nicely. The twist gave The Price of Valor more emotional impact and allowed me to become much more emotionally invested in Wexler’s characters, especially because Jane’s expressiveness provides a significant contrast to Janus’s stoicism. In addition, the insecure political scene in Vordan in which Raesinia finds herself increasingly at odds with her former friend Maurisk also contributes to this effect. It’s chilling to see the changes Maurisk undergoes while simultaneously witnessing the long reach of the Sworn Church in Vordan. The rise of all of these subplots in tandem served as stalwart buttresses for the overarching themes in The Price of Valor and alleviated its weaknesses significantly.The Shadow Campaigns (Book Series) by Django Wexler

For the most part, the issues I had with book two were not present in The Price of Valor, though the one quibble I noted with The Price of Valor was also one from its precursor. It seems to me that Wexler’s shortcomings are mostly plot-based. I caught a few glaring plot holes here and there, and some characters seemed to abruptly possess some facts they didn’t before, without any explanation. This was troubling because it felt a tad like Wexler couldn’t invent a compelling scene with which to break important news to certain protagonists, so he simply took a shortcut and skipped the briefing. While this may appear to be a very small blip on the radar to some, these abrupt surprises in combination with some minor transition issues interrupted my flow as I unsuccessfully attempted to recall when and how particular facts were disclosed, which irritated me more than a little.

Despite this, The Price of Valor is by far the strongest book in THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS thus far. Since book one, the scope of Wexler’s series has expanded significantly, and I enjoyed the scale of The Price of Valor because it was able to deploy intimate, personal experiences in the context of broader struggles. Additionally, we’re beginning to see the Sworn Church take on a larger role as an enemy of Vordan and magic in general, and the lines between good and evil are being swiftly drawn and redrawn. While not as replete with imagery as The Shadow of Elysium, The Price of Valor does have many fantastic descriptive moments that kept the action going, which, as I earlier noted, is one of Wexler’s strengths. I was pulled into the book from the very beginning right up to the cliffhanger ending, which by now is almost expected and quite Wexlerian. I’ll note here that given the cliffhangers in the series so far, I’m a tad concerned about Wexler’s ability to craft a satisfying ending to the storyline, but that’s a concern for another day. Until then, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the hereto unannounced but undoubtedly in-the-works book four!

Published in 2015. In the third Shadow Campaigns novel, Django Wexler continues his “epic fantasy of military might and magical conflict,” (Library Journal) following The Shadow Throne and The Thousand Names. After the king’s death, war has come to Vordan. The Deputies-General, led by a traitor-seeking zealot, has taken control. Queen Raesinia Orboan is nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her life. Unwilling to see the country come under another tyranny, she sets out to turn the tide of history.

As the Sworn Church brings the powers of the continent to war against Vordan, General Janus bet Vhalnich offers a path to victory. Winter Ihernglass, newly promoted to command a regiment, has reunited with her lover and her friends only to face the prospect of leading them into bloody battle.

And the enemy is not just armed with muskets and cannon. Dark priests of an ancient order, wielding forbidden magic, have infiltrated Vordan to stop Janus by whatever means necessary…


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KEVIN WEI, with us since December 2014, is a Math-Stat and Economics major at Columbia University. Secretly, Kevin has always believed in dragons. Not the Smaug kind of dragon, only the friendly ones that invite you in for tea (a href="http://www.fantasyliterature.com/fantasy-author/funkecornelia">Funke’s Dragon Rider was the story that mercilessly hauled him into the depths of SF/F at the ripe old age of 5). Kevin loves epic fantasy, military SF/F, New Weird, and some historical fantasy; some of his favorite authors include Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, Django Wexler, and Joe Abercrombie. In his view, a good book requires not only a good character set and storyline, but also beautiful prose — he's extremely particular about this last bit. Outside of his SF/F life, Kevin loves politics, the startup lyfe, non-fiction, and more. You can find him at: kevinlwei.com

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2 comments

  1. Someday–someday!–I’m going to get started on this series.

  2. April /

    I understand that there is a planned total of 5 books. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first three (though I liked the first the best so far) and will eagerly await the rest.

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