Thursday, October 10, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

Book 3 in author Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle, The Daylight War, was one of my most anticipated books of 2013. His first two books in the series, The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, were both excellent examples of suspenseful, well-written fantasy novels.

I learned about Peter Brett's work from the Walker of World's blog several years ago and I am very appreciative of that fact. I loved The Warded Man (gave it an A/A+ review) and The Desert Spear (gave it an A/A+ review).

The Daylight War is another excellent addition to the series. The books are set in a world called Thesa where every night "corelings" (also called demons) rise from the core of the planet and solidify into deadly creatures to attack and slaughter humans. The only thing that protects humans is the use of wards (intricate symbols) on surfaces that repel corelings. Thesa was once a technologically advanced society but since the emergence of the corelings hundreds of years before the time the books are set in humanity has reverted to a feudal level of civilization.

 In the first book  The Warded Manthe main character Arlen Bales discovers that he can tattoo wards on his body and gained unique power and strength as a result, at a terrible personal cost. The other central characters introduced are Leesha Paper and Rojer Halfgrip who both live in the greenlands near to Arlen. Leesha is apprenticed to her village's healer (called a Herb Gatherer) and Rojer is an orphan who was raised by an itinerant entertainer called a Jongleur. The central tension in the first book is the complicated relationships between Arlen, Leesha and Rojer.

In the second book The Desert Spear, we are introduced to a new central character Ahmann Jardir who lives far away in the desert in a place called Krasia. Krasia is clearly influenced by Arabic/Muslim culture in a manner that I at first felt was not as done as deftly as Frank Herbert did in the classic Dune series. However, in the third book we learn more about Krasian culture from the female perspective through the author's focus on Inevera, Jardir's wife. I believe that Brett has successfully created his own faux Arabic culture that is as well-developed and compelling as Herbert's and that is saying something because Herbert's Dune is one of the masterworks of the science fiction genre. The second book also introduces us to Renna Tanner, who through a complicated set of events becomes Arlen's "promised" (i.e. fiancee). One of the features of the series I have always found the most interesting has been the nuanced ways in which the author has dealt with gender and the different expectations of the roles and responsibilities of men and women, told from the perspective(s) of both men and women, and depicting different levels of gender-based restrictions and beliefs in different cultures.

In the third book the conflict between Ahmann Jardir and Arlen Bales as the two most powerful men in the world becomes more and more inevitable. Both of them are thought by the people who know them best as likely to be a messianic figure called the Deliverer who is supposed to save humanity from the scourge of the corelings. Arlen, despite the amazing things he can do thanks to the special wards he has on his skin, rejects the mantle of Deliverer. Ahmann, actively seeks to foster and maintain a belief by his followers that he is the Deliverer. Ahmann uses this belief to finally united his tribal peoples under one common leader, himself.

While in the first book the demons appeared to be mindless creatures who almost seemed like a natural affliction of humanity, in the later books we start to get a more well-rounded impression of the most advanced demons, called Core Princelings. These princelings have awesome mental (telepathic) abilities and are called "Mind Demons" by Arlen.

I don't want to discuss details of the particular plot points in The Desert Spear except to say that the action is non-stop and we learn a lot more about our (five central characters) by the time we're dine.

It is clear that Brett's Demon Cycle has the potential to be as significant to the dark fantasy-action genre as Dune is to science fiction. I am anxiously awaiting the fourth book in the series!

Title: The Daylight War (Book 3 of the Demon Cycle).
 Peter V. Brett.
Paperback: 656 pages.
 Del Rey.
Date: February 12, 2013.

OVERALL GRADE: A (4.0/4.0).

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