This is a spoiler free review.
The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett
Published on 01/01/2008
Rating: 5/5 stars
Synopsis: As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise–demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards–symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human members dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.
I’ve been wanting to read The Warded Man for quite a while. Not only because Peter V. Brett is quite a well-known name in the fantasy genre, but also because one of the books in this series was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Fantasy Award.
I bought a Kindle copy of this book a few weeks ago because it was quite cheap. Ever since, the cover has just been staring at me. Yelling at me to pick it up. So I finally did. I really, really enjoyed this book. It surprised me, to be honest. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did for some reason.
With fantasy books, the world is so incredibly important to me. I need to be able to imagine where a character is, otherwise it tends to be very confusing. I really quite enjoyed the world of The Warded Man. At first, I was wondering about the ruling of the cities. Usually there is a king or queen, ruling the lands. Yet aside from the mentioning of certain Dukes, there wasn’t any mention of that here. As you’re reading though, you’ll see the intention behind this.
The book has a fun little map in the beginning, so it’s easy to see in which city or village the characters are at any given time. In this world, demons rise from the ground once the dark settles and kill anyone who isn’t within a warded area. This means that people flock together in villages and cities, which makes it easier to survive. There are little villages like Cutter’s Hollow (where Leesha’s from) and Tibbet’s Brook (where Arlen’s from). And then there are a few big cities such as Fort Miln and Fort Angiers. Each of these forts/big cities is ruled by a duke.
Because of the dangers during the night, no one really travels unless they have to. Yet not every city can provide for themselves, especially the small villages. Certain produce needs to travel, in order for people to survive. That’s where the Messengers come in. They are trained, and part of the Messenger’s Guild, and travel from the big cities through the small ones, trading for necessary goods.
I found this world so intriguing. Especially the magic (in a way) system. I loved the idea of the Wards. So, each Ward serves a specific purpose. You have some that keep out demons, some that can make demon-fire into harmless air or water, and so on. These wards are painted on walls, on floors, and pretty much everywhere else. I do wish that they have drawings of the wards in the book? In the Kindle version at least, there weren’t any which I though was quite a shame..
The last things I want to say about the world are that I thought the religion was intriguing too, and the different cultures within this country. The religion was intriguing because a sort of holy book does exist, and they have Tenders in small villages to preach and keep a Holy House. I also loved how Arlen challenged it. And the different cultures were intriguing too, especially in Krasia, a desert city.
This felt like a fast-paced read to me. I felt like this book gave me both an action-packed experience, and the time to get the know the characters. I think that’s because this book spans over several years, and it’s told through multiple POVs.
So we follow each character for several years. This really lets you live their life alongside them? You get to experience every hardship and triumph as it happens. I really love when novels are written this way. It’s no longer the man with the mysterious past. No, you get to see what happens to them immediately, and watch them grow into themselves.
I was just captivated by this book. I don’t have much time to read lately, but every spare moment I picked this one back up.
As I’ve mentioned, we follow 3 perspectives in this book. Thus, there are 3 main characters: Arlen, Leesha and Rojer.
I don’t really want to say a lot about each character because the synopsis doesn’t either. If the synopsis doesn’t say anything, neither will I. I do want to say that I admire each character for different reasons. I love Arlen because he’s so eager to learn, and doesn’t just accept something because everyone tells him that’s the way it is. He’s so brave. I love Leesha because she’s smart. Because she’s learned to stand up for herself. Because she doesn’t give up hope or trust, even when humanity has shown her its worst side. I love Rojer because of his eternal optimism. He’s always trying to make the best of a situation. There are many more characters I love though.
I also really appreciated the focus on women in these books. Often when fantasy books have a medieval kind of setting, they see the women as less than men. As they did in reality during those times. But not The Warded Man. Here are some of the quotes I loved:
“…Apart from Miln, none of the others give their women much voice at all.” “That sounds just as dumb,” Arlen muttered.
“Spare me the recitation from the Canon,” Bruna cut her off. “It’s a book written by men, without a thought given towards the plight of women.”
“Men are good for breaking and building, but politics and papers are best left to women who’ve been to the Mother’s School. Why, it’s Mothers that vote to choose a new duke when the old one passes!”
All in all, it’s safe to say that I loved this book. I’m curious to read the next books and see what happens, but I’m apprehensive at the same time. I’ve already heard that the sequels have many mixed reviews while the first one is more “universally loved”. So I’m a bit afraid. But I still want to see what happens to these characters!