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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo with thoughts by Liviu S.)

Order The Daylight War HERE
Read the first fifty pages HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Painted Man/The Warded Man
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of The Desert Spear
Read Liviu’s Spotlight on The Daylight War
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Great Bazaar & Other Stories

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Peter V. Brett was born and brought up in New York state. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with a focus on English Literature and Art History. He then spent more than a decade working in the pharmaceutical publication field before becoming a full-time writer. He developed an interest in fantasy from an early age and also enjoys comics and role-playing games.  The Painted Man was not the first book he had written, however it helped him land a publishing deal and was his debut. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all—those lurking in the human heart. 

CLASSIFICATION: The Demon Cycle series is a dark epic fantasy series that is very reminiscent of the tales espoused by George R. R. Martin, Scott Lynch and Paul Kearney

FORMAT/INFO: The Daylight War is 379 pages long divided over thirty-two titled and numbered chapters and a prologue. There is also a Krasian dictionary present to help the readers with the terms utilized in the story. Narration is in the third-person via Arlen Bales, Leesha Paper, Inevera, Ahmaan Jardir, Rojer Halfgrip and Abban along with a few minor characters.

February 12, 2013 marks the Hardcover and e-book publication of The Daylight War via Del Rey Books. The US cover art (see below) is by Larry Rostant and the UK cover art is also provided by the same artist. The UK edition is being released on February 11, 2013  by Harper Voyager.

ANALYSIS: Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War is a book that most fans have been clamoring for since the release of The Desert Spear back in 2010. This book focuses on Inevera’s character as the past books have done for Arlen, Leesha, Rojer and Jardir. This book would also serve to show the conflict brewing between Jardir and Arlen and so easily marked itself as the most anticipated title for 2013 IMO. A warning though, with this book being the third of a series, there might be points discussed below that serve as minor spoilers for the preceding titles. Before I begin my review, readers wanting to read Liviu's thoughts on the book, can click here.

The story begins with Inevera nearly 33 years before the start of current events (as mentioned in the book) and we get to see her as a child and with a family of her own. Her father Kasaad is a veteran warrior with a disability and drinking issues. Her mother Manvah is a basket weaver and supports the family and lastly is her elder brother Soli who has just become a new Sharum warrior. Life however has other plans as Inevera as Hannu Pash beckons and we have read in the earlier book what happens next and in this book, Peter Brett shows her remarkable journey all the way. The focus is also on Arlen and Renna who are a couple now and share more wards than any normal couple would. Renna is aggressively following Arlen in his ways and walk even though he might not want her to continue on the same path. Leesha continues to straddle her various roles and is now trying to figure out the best way to extradite herself from the wiles of Jardir and his Krasian contingents. Rojer finds himself with an altered connubial status of sorts, is learning more about womanly wiles and especially Krasian womanly wiles. He’s striving to become a good partner to Sikwah and Amanwah whilst trying to explore his own skill with warded magic via his music.

Then there’s Abban who is slowly becoming my favorite character with his grey-shaded actions and tenebrous interactions with everyone as he helps Jardir fortify his new found lands. However Jardir and Inevera both struggle to determine his true intentions and are constantly wary of him. Jardir also plays a significant role in the happenings of this book and especially towards the climax. But in this volume his role is smaller among all the main POV characters aforementioned. This is not to say he doesn’t make his presence felt but this story truly belongs to Inevera, as we find out more about her thoughts, her past and her intentions towards the upcoming Sharak Ka.

After finishing this book, all I can is WOW! Peter V. Brett really knows how to change character perceptions and showcase different facets even after two preceding books. Let’s begin with the part that beguiled me so much, namely characterization. The author fleshes out all characters vividly and makes each of them distinct, beginning from the POV characters all the way down to the minor characters, each of them feels distinctly unique and this is the best part of the story. Beginning from Arlen as he aggressively pursues his own route and now is becoming a darker character and a bit unhinged as well.  Renna Tanner is brought into the spotlight due to her own actions and Arlen’s gestures however as a character, I couldn’t connect with her as she seemed off with her thoughts and her actions cause further discord between the people around her. 

Rojer who had a reduced role in the preceding title gets a bigger draw and we see what he can accomplish. Leesha also learns about the new headaches of leadership and I felt the author manages to portray her situation a bit better in this volume. Inevera, Jardir and Abban further confound the readers with their machinations and so it is this facet that makes this book bloody terrific. Secondly the author further fleshes out the Krasian culture whilst distinctly drawing some characteristic ties to Islam. Previously the Krasian world was explored from a masculine lens and in this book the same is done from a feminine viewpoint. However the Krasian culture is shown to be no less ruthless or bloodthirsty as we learn about the Dama’tings and their objectives. It’s not shocking to find out the Dama’tings and their underlings have their own games to play and they regard the Krasian men with even more of a rigid mindset than they view their fellow females.

The book slightly alters the pattern by having the current events run entirely parallel to Inevera’s background story. So in chapter I we get to see Arlen going about the Thesan world reclaiming his spot not as the Deliverer but as Arlen Bales the Warded Man, this was a good thing as we directly see past and present events occurring in synchronicity.  The magic system is further expanded and this time we get a deeper look in to the Demons and what seems to be taking place at the Core. I liked how the author paralleled the Demon’s culture with those of the humans above. People who have been waiting to know more about the prophecies, the Alagai hora and demon culture will definitely love this book as the author finally gives us a wider look in to all the aforementioned things and much more. Then there’s the fantastic cover art with both the US and UK editions, which I must say the author is really lucky to have such gorgeous cover art on both sides of the pond.

The pace and action sequences of this book are exponentially increased as the title suggests and once any reader starts this book, they'll be hard-pressed to stop reading. This is where PVB managed to combine the plus points from the earlier books to make the third the best one so far. Lastly I want to emphasize what a terrific ending this book has, its right up there with that of say Changes by Jim Butcher or A Storm Of Swords by George R.R. Martin. Not a cliffhanger in the literal sense but a thematic one as the action ends on a edge of a cliff and fans will probably hate the author for ending the book the way it is shown. The worrisome part being that now readers will have to wait another 2-3 years (minimally) to find out what happens next. As an author this is what you strive for and perhaps PVB will have fans clamoring for the fourth book (The Skull Throne) in the same vociferous way as those of GRRM and Patrick Rothfuss. For those fans who are jonesing for the next epic fantasy series after the conclusion to Wheel Of Time, they might want to give this one a try as its not bloated (so far) and promises much more in the remaining two volumes.

I couldn't find any drawbacks to this book however this is entirely a subjective opinion. If one didn’t enjoy the author’s earlier books and style of writing then this book won’t change your opinion but you would be missing out on a terrific series. For all the fans, Peter V. Brett hits it out of the park with this third volume and only makes it harder to not bang on his door pleading for the next volume. 

CONCLUSION: An out and out thrilling storyline that mixes action, intrigue and amazing characters, Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War is his best work so far and rather upends the bar steeply for this series. I would simply like to conclude by saying that with this book, Peter confirms his place among epic fantasy’s pantheon of greats amid the likes of George R.R. Martin, Steven Erikson, and Robert Jordan.


John said...

This series just hits all the wrong notes for me,the creepy gender politics,the stereotypical faux-islamic setting/analogues,the book is basically D&D expanded into fiction.

When i first started reading book 1,i had high hopes (even with the flaws),book 2 quickly killed all those hopes as the series basically went downhill for me.

As a reader,i am at an age now where even if a book is a page-turner/entertaining ,i can't overlook the serious flaws and say,"it's not great but it's a 'fun' read.There are just too many serious flaws in this series for me to enjoy it.

The Reader said...

Hi John,

Those are strong reasons for not wanting to read this book and series. I can't entirely agree with the first one but the second one is reinforced in this volume.

I however have to say I'm still enjoying this series for the reasons mentioned in the review. The Krasian world is widened a lot in this book and there are a couple of instances wherein there is a distinct tie to older Islamic culture (I'm curious about this move on the author's part).

But issues aside, I still think this is one of the best epic fantasy series out there currently & am waiting to read how PVB ends it.


Anonymous said...

The first book was good, the second seemed like a different person wrote it.

The women in these books are deprived of agency, as noted in the excellent pornokistch review:

Ron Buckmire said...

You have to agree that in the 3rd book Brett has provided the female characters with agency. It was the nuanced gender politics of the first book and the inclusion of a non-steroetypically gay character which initially hooked me. I was hoping Rojer would be gay,but i guess making the artsy member of the trio light in his loafers could have been seen as problematic.

I agree that there were some significant issues with the second book but I think PVB did an excellent job with developing the Krasian culture, which he has completely expanded with his focus on the female side of the Krasian culture in Book 3. I do think he needs to do more with the Corelings, but it
sounds like he is getting ready to just that in Book 4, hopefully out in 2015?


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