The Desert Spear
Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet's Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour.
But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer’s tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague, and anyone else who stands in his way.
Reviewed on 11th April 2015
If anything, the second book in Peter V Brett's The Demon Cycle is even better than the first. It took me a little while to get back into the swing of the story, particularly as this doesn't pick up from where the first left off, instead using a good chunk to dive into another part of the world and expand the story into new characters and new points of view, before starting to pull the threads together again.
Brett's ability to take the reader on a journey into a parallel culture in only the second book of the series shows he has confidence, and he does it really well. I found myself bouncing around in how I felt about the characters, and my shifting views helped keep me solidly attached to the pages. I love good fantasy world building, and this is some of the best - there are elements that reflect the real world, there's plenty of variation and diversity, and yet there's an internal consistency that hints of deeper things to come.
Having said this, I did feel that some of the characters, particularly those that featured heavily in the first book, weren't as well represented in these pages. The new characters were rounded and we saw them from many points of view, but those we returned to seemed to be seen much more from the outside, and I missed being aligned with them in the same way I was for considerable quantities of the previous episode.
Overall it's a really good novel in an excellent fantasy world that I'm desparate to return to and explore in even more depth. Fortunately the next two books are already out and I don't have too long to wait until I'll allow myself to pick them up and race through.