Finally, a writer who makes me want to pick up a fantasy series again… Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man
If you like your fantasy gritty yet hopeful, you’ll like The Warded Man, the first in a series by Peter V. Brett. Humans live in fear of the night, when the demon-like corelings rise up from the ground and wreak terror and death until the sun’s rays banish them back to where they came from. The only thing standing between humans and the corelings is magic etched in fragile wards that keep the demons back. It’s a hard life, and it seems the corelings are winning. Until three young people rise up to teach others to do more than live by day and hide by night…
The central characters are forced out of their routines into a hard world at a young age. Each has special strengths necessary to defeating their foe. Arlen can etch wards better than almost anyone, and he’s determined to find new ways to fight the corelings that killed his mother. Leesha is greatly skilled as a healer and a chemist, and she knows secrets that can be used as weapons against the demons. And Rojer can charm the corelings or drive them back with the music he makes on his fiddle.
In many ways, The Warded Man is a classic fantasy tale…with gifted characters fighting fearsome odds, fascinating cultures and settings, fast-moving action scenes, dramatic plot twists, fearsome creatures, and impressive magic. But this particular author stands out in many ways.
I love the ease with which Brett pulled me into his story. His writing is detailed yet economical… In other words, there’s no unnecessary description or action to slow the pace. Yet he also knows how to use just the right details to make the world seem real and tangible. His characters are both lovable and troubled, determined and conflicted. Best of all, they don’t quit. And that makes me want to keep reading and keep rooting for them.
In addition to the typical fantasy action, Brett takes a look at how we live when we are under duress. Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer all take different paths, but they arrive at the same conclusion—a life lived in fear and hiding is not worth living. Better to fight. Better to find ways to win, not just fight. And best to do it together.
But Brett also looks at our human desire to be led. Arlen doesn’t want everyone looking to him as Deliverer. He wants to empower everyone to fight as equals. But the man who rises up as his apparent rival has no compunctions about being set on a pedestal, the leader who is “more equal” than his peers. So I look forward to a clash between two cultural and political outlooks (two societies) as much as I look forward to seeing what happens to Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer as individuals.
I had given up on fantasy series a while back, thinking they are too long, too labored, too much of the same (no matter how well written) to compel me to invest my time in reading them start to finish. Brett’s The Warded Man has made me change my mind, at least about his work. For that, I’m delighted!
In sum: Peter V. Brett’s writing is excellent, and The Warded Man is definitely worth your time. The next book in the series (The Desert Spear) is already out, and I’m looking forward to reading it. This is one fantasy series that I have no trouble recommending.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.