Short Fiction Friday: The Penitent Damned

The Penitent Damned by Django Wexler, The Shadow Campaings #0.5

Alex is a master thief, with dark magic to give her an edge. When she goes up against Duke Orlanko's Concordat secret police, though, she may have taken on more than she bargained for...

Last year Django Wexler published his first book in The Shadow Campaigns series, The Thousand Names, which was followed just a few weeks back by the sequel in the series, The Shadow Throne, where he really had outdone himself, tranforming his storyline into the right direction! When I was adding the book on goodreads I found that there was a short story written prior to the events of The Thousand Names called The Penitent Damned, and since this is now one of my favorite currently running series, there was no other choice than to catch up with it!

Django Wexler doesn't hesitate one moment to throw you as a reader in the midst of an assassin/thieving/backstabbing kind of a story. The Penitent Damned is set before The Thousand Names and follows sort of two storyline, the first focuses on Duke Orlanko, whose name shouldn't have escaped the attention of readers of the full lenght books. He is the man behind the infamous Concordat, the secret police on the streets of Vordan and Andreas an assassin hired by Orlanko. The other perspective is offered by a young women and master thief Alex. Who has an very specific advantage working in favour for her: "Dark magic" I wonder what that could be... 

In the introduction you see Orlanko and Andreas conversing, being the Concordat, they know everything that goes on about in Vordan and most of the rest of the country. Orlanko has heard that a thief is coming to Vordan to steal something of him and he tasks Andreas to stop this from happening. Right after this brief but eye-opening introduction their side the perspective is changed to Alex and her tutor Metzing who have traveled from Desland to Vordan to steal a precious item, after their short introduction and one that will put a grin on your face when you know just what Alex can do, the story focuses on the actually stealing of said item and this is where everything goes down... And where I will stop from telling more. But let me tell you that it is very, very cool and the style in which everything goes down is more in the lines of the first book than the second book. 

The Penitent Damned is a short story only 15 pages long, but Django Wexler does a great job with introducing the sides of the story with Orlanko and Andreas and Alex and Metzing. Though Orlanko for me is already an established characters the other were new, and within the few pages dedicated to them, their are shown in well developed way. Django Wexler definitely knows just how to create some enigmatic characters with only a few sentences. The two characters that really stand out are Andreas and Alex, they both have something extra to their ordinary, if you know what I mean... *hint*. Alex is especially great to read about as she is young and naive and very powerful but when you take those to former elements and combine them with the latter one, you do get a recipe for disaster... Alex had gotten enough wise words from her mentor Metzing... but it is what you do with those words whether they help or not.

Another thing that I liked was that Django Wexler showed more of the Ignatha Sempria, or the Penitent Damned, in The Thousand Names you already learned a lot of them but just highlighting several elements once again and writing the story in the perspective of two of the Ignatha and their power is just cool. Also Django Wexler delves a bit deeper into the history of the "war" between Pontifex of the Black or also known as the Black Priests and the Penitent Damned. It adds a much darker undertone in those few paragraphs that help build a greater sense taken together with the two full length books. 

I do think that you should read this story either after the first book, The Thousand Names or after the second book, The Shadow Throne, in order to fully understand what is going on in the story or at least appreciate what is going on. With The Penitent Damned, Django Wexler shows that his stories doesn't necessarily have to be 400+ pages long to be powerful. He hits all the right snares to create a very cool story. It's non stop sword and sorcery and over to soon! I hope that their will be more short stories featured in this world or that their will be a Forbidden Library one in the near future. 

Read the full story here 

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