Friday, December 31, 2010

The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man (The Painted Man in the UK) is the debut fantasy novel by Peter V. Brett. It is written in third-person about three protagonists: the Messenger Arlen, the Herb Gatherer Leesha, and the Jongleur (entertainer) Rojer. The world is besieged by demons called corelings. These demons rise from the Core every night when the sun goes down to lay waste to human civilization.

The people draw wards, which magically protect them against demons. These wards create shields, which demons rebound against. This, however, is only protection, and it is clear they need to come up with a better offense against them.

This book focuses on the three main characters growing up. So it has the trappings of a Bildungsroman. Also, the beginnings of an army to fight the demons emerges. So it is the start of an epic.

Indeed, Peter V. Brett has said that the third book in the series, The Daylight War, will not be the last. As of the end of the first, there is a lot left unanswered, such as who the Deliverer, prophesied savior of the human race, is and what happens next.

The book does a lot of things well, particularly with world-building and character development. The world is interesting and small enough that there are no places that are going to remain as stones left unturned, yet big enough for plenty of escapades.

The demons are neat. Wood, wind, water, fire, rock, and sand demons all stalk the night. They give the world a lot of tension. Since they rise nightly, it puts constant pressure on the characters to be behind wards. The ward system is also a fairly interesting magic system. To be a good fighter, one must be an artisan as well.

My only criticism is there is slightly too much sexualization, and the time shifts of several years are moderately staggering. Nonetheless, it was a well paced, fast novel with a lot of excitement. All in all, The Warded Man is an excellent fantasy debut.

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