The Desert Spear

The Desert Spear is the sequel to The Warded Man (or as it’s known outside the US, The Painted Man). Both books are a part of Peter V. Brett’s The Demon Cycle series. The stories take place in a future where humans live in medieval hamlets by day, and demons rule the night. The only protection mankind has are the ancient wards. Yet this is merely the background for a truly character driven story rife with drama. The Desert Spear takes on the dual task of continuing the great journey The Warded Man started, and the unenviable task of trying to match the enjoyment of the first book.

While Arlen, the Warded Man himself, was the central figure of the first book, Jardir is the star of this one. He is the supreme leader of the desert tribes, and Arlen’s nemesis. With the opening of the book, the reader gets to see the background history of Jardir. His childhood, struggle to adulthood, and his current campaign against the north lands. Through flashbacks, Brett reveals Jardir’s past in a way that does much more than simply tell his story. Jardir’s tale manages to show an entirely different side of the story and puts the events of the first novel in a whole new light. The events develop a compassion and empathy for the character. The details of the culture and events that shaped Jardir into who he is forms him into sympathetic character.  One that’s not easily liked or disliked, but instead constantly walking the gray line of reality.

After the first third of the novel, the rest of the main cast comes back into play. To be honest, it was at this point in the book that I started to lose interest. The unsatisfying love triangle between Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer can easily grate on a reader’s patience. It’s only natural to want the characters to find happiness and fulfillment, yet Brett tantalizes the reader with each characters’ terrible relationship skills. There is also the further development of Reena’s tale (who we saw a little of in The Warded Man) which adds grimness of the story. Whereas some authors will avoid the darker elements of reality, Brett does not shirk away from the use of rape if it will add that additional ratcheting of drama. How things are played mirrors reality, but it makes for less than enjoyable escapism. Regardless, things get better as the characters are kicked into action.

A new element to the series is the perspective of the demons. Along with a few new demon types, there are now the coreling princes and their mimics. The reader will get to see inside the demon prince’s’ mind at various times in the novel,which  reveals a bit more of the story as well as further developing the villains. The way the coreling princes survey their enemies with ease creates a building tension as the inevitable conflict grows closer. Who will they attack? Who will they kill? Can any of the main characters defeat them? By the end of the novel, those questions are answered, helping create dramatic uncertainty for the reader.

Overall the intricate character play of the story turns the tale into an addictive fantasy soap opera. Drama enriches every character’s journey in situations that are sometimes outlandish and terribly delightful. Arlen reunites with old friends and revisits old wounds. Mind demons threaten to destroy any new found hope and harmony among the heroes. Characters find themselves entangled in marriages, struggling to lead their people to safety from demonkind, and facing the pain of the past. The book ended so well that I found myself in mild shock to see I’d ran out of pages to read. Due to the addictive enjoyment of the book, I give it a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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