In a world where demons rule the night, reigning supreme only to scurry or burn away at the rising sun, humans cower, weak and frightened, behind peeling wards. In these wards hum the subtle reminders of the old world when a man known as the Deliverer destroyed whole legions of demons with a single swipe, walked among them without fear, tore at them as they would us, and unlike an ordinary man, no physical harm could ever befall him – or so the stories say. With the Deliverer offering us aid in our darkest times against the demons, we humans praised and sang about his deeds, his courage, his prowess in battle. We named our children after him because for a long time, there was peace. The demons were still there, don’t forget, somewhere in the night beyond the limits of our sight, frightened of our saviour.
A few of us thought that they were waiting for something – what, exactly, we couldn’t fathom.
Life carried on, we built cities, dukes rose, the poor begged on the streets. The time of the first demon war was written in our history books and everything in the world seemed at ease. We went out in the dark to deliver supplies to other cities, we worked in the dark to build bridges and roads – the corelings left us to do as we pleased in the dark. We were under the impression that this was how we would spend the rest of our lives with the demons held back. Of course, fate had other ideas and the unthinkable happened.
The Deliverer disappeared.
Catching us unaware, the demons came in a wave of claws and roaring maws, spittle hanging in wet strings from snarling jaws. On that first day, countless of us were slaughtered. Many of us went back to the mud, our last breath leaving our lungs. Others were less fortunate; bits of bone and flesh fed the stomachs of their murderers.
With the demons back in full mass we barely stood a chance against them. We returned to what we knew best; we hid, drew wards, and prayed for the Deliverer to come again and save us.
Except he never did; in his place we watched a robed figure rip the arms off a demon before flinging it at its companions and roaring at them as he tore the creature’s head off. The hooded figure jumped into the fray, attacking more than half a dozen demons with the full moon’s glow illuminating his features; he was a man, if albeit hairless and bore strange markings on his skin and spoke in a hollow voice.
The Deliverer had abandoned us, but there was hope yet that the Warded Man might save us.
Satisfied that the SplatterGeist had given you a taste of what you’d expect from Peter V. Brett’s first book in his Demon Cycle Trilogy, The Warded Man (also known as The Painted Man), I have to confess that the above read bit is not an excerpt from the novel – just a bit of my own fan fiction, if you will.
Now, on to business.
If you enjoyed reading the epic Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (whom will always be remembered for his brilliant imagination and fantastic characters) then The Warded Man will be no stranger to giving you the same pleasure. If you’re busy with a kick-ass series and waiting for the next instalment to pop up on the shelves, I strongly recommend you give Brett’s Demon Cycle Trilogy a go. Luckily all three books are available at local book stores with the latest novel, The Daylight War, published a few months ago.
Why should you read this? Well, why shouldn’t you?
Brett writes with a writer’s flair, meaning that there will never be a dull moment in his prose that makes you feel like thinking up an excuse to go do something else. The three main characters (Arlen, Rojer, and Leesha) all are very dynamic in terms of their identities and how different they are from each other. The graphic content in this novel is also quite good; Brett takes joy in detailing a horse being attacked and devoured or having the Warded Man lose his temper and ripping off a demon’s limbs in his mad fury. On another level, Brett doesn’t seek to add anything that might disturb the reader – Stephen King and John Ajvide Lindqvist have that bar going on their own – whether it’s graphic content or explicit imagery. There’s a comfortable balance between plot, character development, and narration all of which adds to the great value in his writing.
Brett approaches the story on a very traditional scale; young Arlen Bales gets fed up with his father for not being brave enough to rescue his wife when she almost gets torn apart by demons. Leaving Tibbet’s Brook, we follow Arlen on his amazing journey as he perfects his innate talent of warding, becomes adopted by a strong-backed Messenger known as Ragen, and eventually learns what his true destiny is. The twist comes not when Arlen returns from his journey as a glorified hero wearing fine armour and riding a fine stallion; Arlen had replaced those for a loose-fitting robe with a dark personage and a giant black horse bearing the same wards of its master.
Brett has created a bad-ass dark hero, almost iconic in a sense which makes it step away from the norm of fantasy novels.
Leesha and Rojer experience a similar transition from childhood to adulthood; Leesha Paper apprentices under Bruna – the Herb Gatherer of Cutter’s Hollow – and soon takes her place as the best the Hollow ever had. Rojer Halfgrip had his three fingers bitten off by a demon when his mother tried to flee from a coreling attack, leaving him in the mercy of the drunken Jongleur Arrick Sweetsong. As the story progresses and each character is faces with difficult obstacles and challenges, it soon becomes apparent that neither Leesha or Rojer are completely at the mercy of the vicious demons; with powdered herbs Leesha has learned to blind a man and stun a demon (as well as other things which the SplatterGeist will not delve into) and Rojer has mastered the musical ability of his flute, witnessing one cold and windy night after a bout with his master, Arrick, that he can do more than merely play a tune with his instrument.
Of course, let’s not forget our antagonist; Ahmann Jardir. A brutal warrior and snake, it is Jardir who steals Arlen’s discovery in an ancient city and leaves him to die in the desert. Self-proclaimed Shar’dama Ka – the Krasian version of the Deliverer – and youngest to have killed a demon, Jardir is a worthy adversary not to be underestimated. In Jardir, Brett has created a villain who dulls the lines between black and white. If you’ve read Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy and have had the misfortune of meeting Jorg Ancrath, then you’ll know that Jardir is the kind of person Jorg would be had he not experienced an epiphany and killed the people who had to be killed.
There’s action, suspense, and a whole host of nasty critters out to get you, so be careful and mind the dark.