When darkness falls, Demons rise from the mists and rule the night. In a frenzy they kill, devour and destroy; held at bay only by ancient wards. However, when the Corelings breach the wards; tragedy strikes. Houses and towns burned to rubble; family and friends slaughtered. There is no way to fight back; all you can do is cower in fear, hide and pray that your wards will hold through the night – and be thankful that it isn’t you that’s being devoured.
The story follows three main characters; Arlen, who after a series of events and observing a great cowardice from his father; runs away in an attempt to be free, and moreover – fight back against the demons. Arlen is ever willing to do what others have thought impossible for generations, ever since the lost wards and the return of the Corelings. He gains his talents and specialities during his quests for knowledge and the desire for change.
After escaping from her manipulative and demanding mother, Leesha goes trains under the town hag and becomes a skilled healer. As she grows older, she must also deal with the leering looks of men, and protect herself in a male-dominant society; all the while searching for the right guy. She shows great strength of character; and alongside her skills with healing, she finds herself with a will to fight.
Rojer was raised by a Jongleur after his parents were killed by the demons when he was three. Scarred from that encounter; Rojer is missing fingers, though they serve as a reminder of his parent’s love. Struggling with juggling, Rojer more than makes up for that lack with his extraordinary skills playing the fiddle – skills which may prove magical.
Peter Brett‘s debut novel, The Painted Man (A.K.A The Warded Man in some countries) at first begins like the traditional well-known fantasy story; with a country-boy in a small village. Yes, there are a few clichés in the plot like that (country boy goes on a quest to change the world), as well as a bit of predictability. However Brett does a fantastic job with making it his own. With the characters starting out fairly young; as they mature and age (the story spans about 15 years) the plot goes from the idiosyncrasies of small villages to the complexity of city-life, with the different sights, sounds and people. His great use of description allows you to experience the story alongside the protagonists and makes for an enthralling read. Brett’s protagonists are all well written, and dynamic (though, I had some issues with Leesha’s story close to the end), and they’re interesting to read.
One of the main things that stinted this story was the view-point transitions. They seemed a bit roughly done, and with the timelines jumping back and forth it could be confusing at times.
In short: It’s a great book, The Painted Man is among my favourite fantasy novels and even though it has its flaws, I found it to be a very enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy novels, action – and can deal with some of the more mature subject matter which are brought up in the story.
Though, I have mixed feelings about The Desert Spear (book 2), which wasn’t a terrible book, it just didn’t live up to my expectations and (to me) fell short of the potential it had. However, the majority of other reviews seem to disagree with me on this point.