Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett

The world is about to change. For centuries mankind has huddled in their homes under the scant protection of magical wards as demons roamed the night. Now two men have both been proclaimed deliver, mankind’s savior destined to lead them against the demons. Ahmann Jadir has united the desert-dwelling tribes of Krasia under his control and is now marching his forces North intent on bringing the scattered Greenland city states into his war by any means necessary. The northerners however have their own deliverer, the painted man. The painted man spurns the title however, content with spreading the previously lost battle wards amongst his people and then fighting his own war against the demons. The painted man fears that he has absorbed too much power from the demons and is slowly losing his humanity and becoming a demon himself. Meanwhile Leesha must decide if she should sacrifice her independence and become one of Jadi's wives in order to ensure Deliver's Hollows safety and facedown her own issues with letting another person love her.

Ahmann Jadir played an important, if contracted role, in the previous book. He was once Arlen's, AKA the painted mans, friend but chose to betray him when Arlen discovered a battle warded spear in a set of ancient ruins and took the prize for himself. His motives seemed pretty black and white back then, simple greed and jealously but as this book reveals those motives were in fact far from simple. The first portion of the book focuses on Jadir’s life before the first book in much the same way as Arlen, Rojer and Leesha’s stories were told. Through Jadir’s eyes we come to understand the desert dwellers culture, their sense of honour and what makes them tick. This provides an interesting contrast with the glimpse we had of them from Arlen’s perspective in the first book. This contrast between Jadir and the painted man is an overriding theme throughout the novel and sets things up nicely for their evitable confrontation in the next book.

Arlen’s discomfort at the messiah-like status he has achieved and the clash between who he was and what he has become as he encounters people from his earlier life was extremely interesting and enjoyed seeing Brett further flesh out his character. Unlike the previous novel we have a few chapters told from the demon’s perspective and I really enjoyed the way the author created a unique perspective for them and provided a greater insight into them.

Overall the desert spear is an excellent middle book, revealing more of the world the Brett introduced in his debut and hinting at even more to come. 8.5/10.

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