|The fitting-but-not-as-good US Cover.|
Spoilers follow for the previous books. You've been warned.
The Daylight War picks up directly after the end of events in The Desert Spear. It's literally within the hour, but that's not before we learn about the lovely lady on the cover of the book, Inevera. The cover is very fitting because we learn a ton about her in this book. There are hundreds of pages of backstory from her early years to her current position next to Jardir, the Shar'Dama Ka or Deliverer at least according to the Krasians.
I know what you're thinking. So how is this consistent and possibly even better with such a focus on a less than likable character? She tried to kill Leesha for crying out loud! (I know, I should never go into palm reading) But that's part of the genius of this book, we learn more about Inevera and it's hard not to root for her and if not that, then at least to understand her motives that much better.
And she's a great character. The early parts of this rather large book show her in essentially Dama'ting school and that always gets me right there. Show me a school filled with bullies, difficult tests and traps, and a highly difficult ascension through the ranks and I'm already halfway there. Just pay attention to the time period displayed at the beginning of the chapter. Anytime the focus in on the Krasians, however, I have a bit of a hard time.
|The awesome-and-perfectly-fitting UK Ed.|
I think Brett's done an excellent job with the Krasians and the Krasian language, it's a realistic society with a realistic and interesting language, but I have a terrible time with it. There are so many words that are terribly similar. Once you get over the fact that a woman's title will have the suffix 'ting on the end, you've barely cracked it. Half the words have the word "dama" somewhere in it and darned if I could remember what titled referred to whom. Good thing for the Krasian dictionary at the back.
And then to add to this, there are a lot of characters with similar names, especially names beginning with the letter "A." Again, this is by no means unrealistic, that's literally how plenty of cultures and languages work, but it was difficult keeping track of who's who.
Then, for a society who makes their women cover up, they're extremely obsessed with sex. I know, that's a whole discussion on it's own, but I felt it got a bit heavy-handed on this one. So much revolved around it when it wasn't all that necessary. I read for action and plotting and not for romance and sex. That's just a personal preference though.
Lastly, for a society who is deeply religious and concerned with sacred things, it was a little odd for some of the characters to shout epithets such as "Everam's balls." Not a huge detractor, it was usually funny even, but I thought it took away from the realism. There's no way they would refer to this holy being in such a way, not when they refer to with the utmost respect and have such harsh penalties for the smallest of sacrileges. But enough of the Krasians, back to Arlen.
The Warded Man
Arlen is a great character, I love reading his pov. He's not afraid to stand up to anyone and tells it like it is. I was really surprised that unlike The Desert Spear, we're given a good hundred or so pages with him right after the prologue. He's constantly struggling with people's perception of him and I really like that his whole message is that everyone's the deliverer, not just one person. That kind of thinking got everyone in trouble in the first place. Arlen's grown more and more powerful and his attack from the mind-demon only strengthened his power.
I mentioned in my last review that I was worried about The Matrix effect. Once Neo becomes all-powerful, the agents are no longer scary in The Matrix: Reloaded.
The same kind of thing started to happen in The Desert Spear for me. Suddenly, the demons were no longer scary like they were in The Warded Man. That can really hurt the suspense factor. Luckily, Brett has obviously prepared for this because we only begin to see what awaits the Free Cities at the end of The Desert Spear. We've barely cracked the surface, literally.
I've Been Overly Critical Out of Love
To be honest, any complaint I've mentioned has really only been minor. I felt like Brett's writing stepped up in this volume and the plot is excellent. Obviously we're in for some real treats to come, especially after that insane cliffhanger ending.
The Demon Cycle is my crack, I can't get enough of it. If you haven't read The Warded Man, do it already. I need friends at the AA meetings.
4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)
Note: I received a copy of both the UK and US versions of this book and found out that the respective names for The Painted Man/The Warded Man are used throughout the respective country's book. It seems obvious now, but I had always thought it was just a title thing. I asked the author about that (at a reddit.com "Ask Me Anything") and here's what he said.
Note #2: Read the first 50 pages at Suvudu.
The Demon Cycle
1) The Warded Man (Alec's review, my review)
2) The Desert Spear (my review)
3) The Daylight War
1) The Great Bazaar and Other Stories (my review)
2) Brayans' Gold (my review)
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher