The Guns of Empire by Django Wexler. ★★★★1/2
The Guns of Empire is the fourth book in one of my favorite ongoing fantasy series, The Shadow Campaigns. You most definitely need to have read at least books two and three, although you could possibly get away with skipping book one (The Thousand Names). Spoilers for the prior three books may follow.
After being soundly defeated by Janus, Vordan’s enemies are gathered at the negotiating table, but in vain. Janus bet Vhalnich will not stop until he has marched his grand army all the way to Elysium itself, the heart of the Priests of the Black. Queen Raesinia wants to see a return to peace, but she is uncertain if the army would listen to her over Janus. Marcus d’Ivoire and Winter Ihernglass are unaware of these dangerous questions of authority and are dealing with greater responsiblity than they’ve ever had before. Winter is also still dealing with the emotional aftermath of Jane’s betrayal. Meanwhile, the Priests of the Black are not going to let themselves be captured. It’s time for them to throw everything they’ve got at Janus and the soldiers who follow him, no matter what the costs.
Like The Price of Valor, The Guns of Empire balances military action with some political intrigue (mostly through Raesinia). There’s also more focus on the magical aspects, the demons, and the Penitent Damned than ever before, which I love.
Actually, there’s a lot I love about this book and this series. Primarily, there’s just so many important and awesome female characters. Winter, one of our three POV characters, is a lesbian and now a general, and I’ll admit that I may have started to obsess just a bit over her romantic prospects. I mean, this is a book series that gives me an action packed fight scene where all four characters involved are female and have supernatural powers. This is what I’m here for. The only thing that could make it better is if the series included any PoC characters, which it still doesn’t.
I care deeply about so many of the main characters, so it really hurts when something happens to one of them. Winter remains my favorite, but I love all of them I really do. I was constantly worried if or how these characters would escape the increasingly perilous situations they find themselves in. And the last twenty percent or so of the book was intense, believe me!
Since The Guns of Winter is the fourth book out of what I hear will be a five book series, it’s no wonder that it’s intense. It’s got to build things up for the final installment. And, oh wow, does it succeed. The situation is worse than it ever has been, and that cliffhanger left me reeling. Ahhh, I feel almost too excited to wait for the fifth book!
Basically, I’m becoming a complete fangirl for this series. It’s a bit frightening.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.