Desert Spear by Peter V Brett
Just finished reading Desert Spear, Peter Brett’s sequel to the Painted Man and second book in the Demon Trilogy. I really enjoyed the Painted Man, it is a very original story in the fantasy genre and I was eagerly anticipating book number two. In the Painted Man we are introduced to Arlen from Tibbets Brook. In PB’s world the night belongs to the demons who rise from the ground and terrorise humans once the sun sets. The only protection that the humans have from the demons are some old magic wards that, painted and etched onto door posts and fences, prevent the demons from entering peoples’ homes and killing them all – but if the wards are damaged or anybody is caught outside of them after sunset the demons swiftly move in for the kill. Arlen, after watching his mother die on the claws of a demon whilst his father stood and watched helplessly chooses a different route. He chooses to learn to fight the demons and by the end of the first novel has become the Painted Man and the people’s reluctant saviour – a role that he does not desire and constantly denies. Arlen is a lonely figure, he travels from place to place trying to discover the wards of old and at the end of the Painted Man discovers in some ancient ruins a warded spear and other warded weapons the like of which he has never seen before. However, he is at this point betrayed by somebody who he believes to be a friend – a man called Jardir who rides forth from the desert carrying this spear and calling himself the Deliverer, a man with an army of warriors at his command and is intent on a holy war against the demons.
The second book sees Jardir at the start of his holy war, the tale then takes you back to Jardir as a young boy and tells you his story. I liked the way this book was written and thought it was logical. The Painted Man gave you the back story of Arlen and then left you on the verge of a new story and the Desert Spear tells you the back story of Jardir and leaves you on the verge of the war with demons. To be honest I found it a little bit hard going to begin with but once I got to grips with it I started to really enjoy Jardir’s history and some of the twists and turns it took along the route – particularly with his scheming first wife!
The story then returns to Arlen, Roger and Leesha and the paths that they are now following. I enjoyed the storyline with Jardir and Leesha – although I couldn’t see how it would be resolved and I also enjoyed Reena’s story and her eventual coming together with Arlen.
I think the third book is really well set up now and it will be interesting to see how it is resolved. Personally, in spite of the huge differences in culture between the Northerners and Southerners I think they must overcome their differences and unite against their common enemy.
I really like Arlen and Reena and look forward to seeing whether anything more will come of their friendship.
I don’t really have any criticisms although will admit that this is quite a long book and the first few chapters I did find difficult to get into. However, that being said I genuinley never reached a point where I was skim reading or lacking interest. There is such a lot to hold your attention and the story telling is very well done. I don’t suppose I really liked Jardir although at the end of the book I found myself becoming more sympathetic towards him, he was at least trying to gain more of an understanding of the northerners’ ways (although granted he had ulterior motives). I suppose the fact that quite a large chunk at the start of the book is devoted to Jardir may put some readers off – he isn’t as likable a character as Arlen after all – but I think this history of Jardir at least helps you to understand him a little better, it also shows that he is not totally comfortable himself with some of his actions and also shows that in spite of his status he is manipulated a good deal himself!
I look forward to book number three and hope that PB can provide us with a gripping finale.