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The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle…

The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle (edition 2010)

by Peter V. Brett

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Title:The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle
Authors:Peter V. Brett
Info:Del Rey (2010), Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Already Read, Your library, Audio Book
Tags:demons, fantasy, magic, epic fantasy, the Demon Cycle

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The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

2009 (6) adventure (8) ARC (11) coming of age (12) dark fantasy (9) Demon Cycle (10) demon trilogy (7) demons (63) Early Reviewers (21) ebook (21) epic fantasy (13) fantasy (359) fiction (88) hardcover (7) horror (7) Kindle (16) magic (36) novel (11) read (21) read in 2009 (6) read in 2013 (6) science fiction (6) series (10) sf (8) sff (10) signed (10) to-read (80) unread (8) wards (10) wishlist (9)
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Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an advanced copy I won here. I was instantly drawn in by the world and characters, which reminded me of Barbara Hambly's novel "The Time of the Dark" but done better. The descriptions of the different creatures and the warding were understandable but not too detailed to make you nod off, while the affects on the civilizations from limited mobility were well documented. Each character had deep motivations for risking their lives by moving beyond the safety of their warded homes. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  Gkarlives | Mar 3, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Summary: Every night, once darkness falls, the corelings rise. Humanity used to know the secrets of how to fight them, but they have been long since lost to time. Now the only things that hold the demons back are wards, carved or painted or drawn, and even the wards can fail. Only the bravest or most foolhardy would spend a night out of doors, so most folks are isolated in small villages, barely dreaming of the warded cities, and their population numbers are dropping. Arlen is a young boy when his mother is killed by a coreling, and he flees his village, disgusted by the cowardice of his father, and seeking some way to fight back. Leesha is a young woman in another village, bitten by small-town small-mindedness before apprenticing herself to the local herb woman. Rojer is little more than a baby when his parents are killed in a coreling attack, and he grows up in the care of a traveling magician and storyteller. These three young survivors must somehow find a way to resurrect the secrets of the past, if humanity is ever to defeat the demon plague.

Review: This book was a solidly enjoyable epic fantasy. I've seen a lot of work out there comparing it to The Wheel of Time or The Kingkiller Chronicles, etc., and I think that that is spot on. That doesn't necessarily mean that I liked it as much as I liked those other two books, but they are very definitely hewn from the same stone. Part of The Warded Man's charm is how immediately and comfortably familiar the world feels, how easy it was to sink into it. (Although more than once I rolled my eyes at the description of a "jongleur" and their itinerant juggling and singing and storytelling and multi-colored patched cloak and thought "Just come out and call them "gleemen" already.") The story isn't quite a standard quest story, but it's not quite not a standard quest story, either. (There's a prophecy but no sense of a predestined hero, and no Dark Lord (yet).) Brett builds his world, the rules of how the corelings work and how the wards work, very well, almost invisibly, with details interwoven with the action and no trace of an info-dump. The demons are effectively scary, and the isolated, regressive world feels organic to the story, although I don't know that I'd really classify it as fantasy horror.

There were a few things that bothered me about this book. First is the pacing feels a little bit off, mostly Brett's juggling three POV characters, and he tended to give each of them multiple chapters in a row, which works in some ways but also meant that sometimes hundreds of pages would go by between a character's chapters (mostly Rojer - we're introduced to him relatively late, then he's mostly forgotten about for a hundred pages at a time… more than once). Each individual segment of Leesha's or Arlen's was smooth, and totally absorbing, and the story really picks up once the three of them were together, but some of the shifts in the first half of the book were a little jarring. I also wasn't crazy about the writing style. It's straightforward, with no ornamentation, and something about it felt like it was geared towards a younger audience. It's mostly unobtrusive and focused on the action, but there were times when it felt a little dumbed down. And finally, some of the gender politics in this book squicked me out a little bit. This wasn't enough to put me off - probably because it felt like the misogyny was legitimately the characters', not the author's, and some of the icky-feeling gender roles did at least make sense as a part of the world Brett was building, and played a role in the story. But even when the misogynists are clearly the bad guys in the story, their presence still made me a little uncomfortable. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: The Warded Man isn't breaking any new ground in the epic fantasy realm, but it's a worthy debut that should make fans of the genre feel right at home. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Feb 26, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett tells a story of a land where every night, horrific demons rise from the earth and prey upon the people, cowering in their homes. Their only defense against these creatures of the night are wards, symbols that inhibit or weaken the demon's abilities. Every night, the people lie in terror in their homes, and every morning they bury their dead and rebuild their houses.

The narrative follows three young people: A young man who turns to being a Messenger, a person who braves the naked night between villages, to deliver messages and supplies; a young woman who turns away from the typicial life expected of her to become an herb gatherer; and a young man, injured and orphaned by demons, who is taken under the wing of a jongoleur.

Each of these protagonists excels in their respective field, as well as makes several key discoveries regarding the demons who constantly plague them. Needless to say, they start gears rolling which eventually empower humanity to fight back.

Brett's story is a slow start, establishing the past of these characters in hopes to better acquaint the reader with them. While this does help bind the reader to the characters, it can be a trudge for some. Several times, this novel strikes the reader as a "first novel," both in its aspirations, as well as its flaws.

If you like tower-defense fantasy, you may find yourself enjoying this book. As for myself, I found it to be weak tea against some more common fantasy mainstays (and I'm not counting the graphomaniacal blurber on this book's cover). It's worth a read, but by no means spectacular. ( )
  aethercowboy | Feb 17, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am very happy I received this book through Early Reviewers. Somehow this fantasy series escaped my notice before. That is no longer the case, Peter V. Brett has officially received my notice. Well written and engaging. Well done world building (a particular favorite element of mine when it comes to judging fantasies). I will be reading more from Peter V. Brett in the future, that's for sure... at the very least more books of the demon cycle will be purchased soon. ( )
  madnessabides | Feb 16, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Title: The Warded Man
Original Title: The Painted Man
Series: The Demon Cycle #1
Author: Peter V. Brett
Release Date: January 1, 2008
Publisher: Random House
Source: LibraryThing
Genre(s): Fantsy

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: Moderate throughout; High at the end

This should have been a four star book. It's arguably still a three-point-five star book but since we only use solid stars here at Nerdophiles it's going to be a three. And the problem is that I can't even tell you why I had to rate it down instead of rounding up without spoiling a part of the book. So if you're reading this and don't want to get spoiled, don't read until the end. I've seen lots of people rate this book highly - which is great because it deserves it - but I don't know why people are overlooking this particular thing.

So, that said.

I thought the Warded Man was a pretty great book over all. Brett creates a phenomenal fantasy world plagued nightly by demons who can only be kept at bay by intricate wards on their homes, stables, and cities. Being caught out at night means certain death as an infinite number of these nightmarish creatures stalk the countrysides. There are other rules to how the 'corelings' as they are called can and cannot move within the world. But the key factor is that humankind is helpless to stop them. They can only pray the wards hold fast each and every night and cower in their own beds.

This is the world that Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer have inherited.

The book splits it's time between these three main characters. It covers a very wide range of time, picking up when each of the characters is a child and bringing them into adulthood. Arlen is a small town boy whose family is torn apart by his father's own fear and cowardice - also corelings. He travels to the far cities, somehow surviving the road at night with his own wards drawn into the dirt. There he is taken in by a messenger who he met before and learns the ways of the world and wards, always imagining a world where people can fight back. Arlen is our true epic hero and his transformation is really the key to the whole story.

Leesha and Rojer, then, are there to add an added dimension to the world and their lives will eventually find these two irrevocably linked to Arlen, the Warded Man. Leesha is the daughter of small town papermaker and his insufferable wife. After a devastating betrayal she apprentices to a healer in town who gives her life real purpose. She's a strong female character, the sort you may not always find in fantasy novels. Rojer, on the other hand, is a coreling orphan taken in by the jongleur who saved him. He trains in the same trade as his master and surrogate father despite a crippled hand and eventually learns that he, too, has some unexplainable ability to take the fight to the corelings.

As compelling of characters as Leesha and Rojer were in the book they were very much secondary characters. I think in future books their stories may be more compelling and impactful than they were this time around. As it was, in the Warded Man they offered a sort of break to Arlen's story which for a while takes a very large break. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the intentional vagueness of how Arlen truly became the man he became or his history on the road as a man. It didn't hurt the story at all but it did feel very cliche. Granted, Arlen is a largely cliche figure. A main character destined to be an epic hero who has an inherent skill at wards that even he cannot explain? It's one of those too-good-to-be-true sort of backgrounds but hey. Cliches are cliches because they work and it doesn't make Arlen any less of a great lead character.

I really liked Arlen. Moreso than Leesha - whose story was not nearly as interesting - or Rojer - who even accepted himself that he was likely no more than a sidekick in anything.

Mostly, though, I just liked the setting. It was a very interesting world. The mythology and rules behind how demonkind worked were well throughtout and at no point did I feel like I didn't understand how things worked. I mean, clearly I don't understand how magic works or the wards necessarily worked. But the world itself was so finely pieced together and Brett makes it so believable that none of that matters. You understand it because he understands it, because the characters understand it. There is a striking reality to it all.

I will say that I'm not sure how I feel about the religious element that seems to be going on. It makes sense that the people would attribute some sort of religious explanation to the rise of the corelings. Similarly it makes since that epic stories from eons past of a man who could fight back against the demons would turn that figure into a Christ-like persona. But ultimately I think we're looking at a clash between the decidedly 'Middle Eastern' styled city and region and the native region of Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer. And that just seems tired to me. I'm not really looking forward to that progression.

But we'll see how it plays out. I'm very interested to read the next book in the series - and the next one. And the next two or three. Right now Good Reads is telling me there are five books planned with estimated releases so there's a lot of plot to be developed a lot more to happen with the characters. And probably plenty of additional characters to come, too, since everyone wants to be G.R.R. Martin these days.

Final Thoughts:
So, before I tell you my problem with this book let me conclude with: Read it. It's a great story. It's a fantastic example of world building. And the characters are pretty likable. (I love Arlen but I go back and forth on how I feel about the choices he's made.) This is a great series and I think fans of the Game of Thrones television series may particularly enjoy it because it's not nearly as dense of a read as the GOT books. Less sex, though. Way less sex.

Which actually kind of brings me to my problem with this book.

Spoilers, yo. Be warned.

Leesha. Let's talk about Leesha. Throughout the book she's this really strong, independent female character. I mean, she starts out naive about things and learns very quickly that as a woman it's about trusting yourself and taking power where you can. She does a fanastic job of it, too. The healer she apprentices with teaches her all about the female body, sex, and such. Which she later uses to keep a messenger from forcing himself upon her while traveling the road. Yay, no rape! Rape never serves a real purpose except to force a female character into a vulnerable position. So Leesha goes on being a HBIC, right? So great.

Except then, later in the book, she gets raped on the road while traveling home. No purpose to it at all. It's just thrown in as something that happened and she's sort of catatonic for a while. And then, suddenly, this woman who has been a virgin for going on like thirty years or something just throws herself at 'the Warded Man' when he comes by and rescues them? First we have a rape that served no narrative purpose other than, "Lol, you're a vulnerable woman now!" and then she turns into something she's not and never has been.

That bothered me.

It really bothered me.

It negatively impacted the way I looked at the book entirely. And I'm not really saying this because I'm a woman and that's why it upsets me. It's just cheap storytelling. I mean, if there were any narrative purpose at all then I probably wouldn't be this hard on the author. It's because you don't take a strong woman and make that her only way to be vulnerable and insecure. There are plenty of ways to make three dimensional characters. The author failed in that regard and it really makes me question reading the second book only because I already feel like he's not going to handle the whole thing any better as we go along.

But I guess we'll see when I get to the Desert Spear. ( )
  samaside | Feb 6, 2014 |
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To Otzi,
the original Warded Man
First words
The great horn sounded.

Arlen paused in his work, looking up at the lavender wash of the dawn sky. Morning mist still clung to the air, bringing with its damp an acrid taste that was all too familiar. A quiet dread built in his gut as he waited in the morning stillness, hoping that it had been his imagination. He was eleven years old.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Variant Titles: The Painted Man (UK) = The Warded Man (US).
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.

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Book description
Sometimes there is very good reason to be afraid of the dark...

Eleven-year-old Arlen lives with his parents on their small farmstead, half a day's ride away from the isolated hamlet of Tibbet's Brook.

As dusk falls upon Arlan's world, a strange mist rises from the ground, a mist carrying nightmares to the surface. A mist that promises a violent death to any foolish enough to brave the coming darkness, for hungry corelings - demons that cannot be harmed by mortal weapons - materialize from the vapours to feed on the living. As the sun sets, people have no choice but to take shelter behind magical wards and pray that their protection holds until the creatures dissolve with the first signs of dawn.

When Arlen's life is shattered by the demon plague, he is forced to see that it is fear, rather than the demons, which truly cripples humanity. Believing that there is more to his world than to live in constant fear, he must risk leaving the safety of his wards to discover a different path.

In the small town of Cutter's Hollow, Leesha's perfect future is destroyed by betrayal and a simple lie. Publicly shamed, she is reduced to gathering herbs and tending an old woman more fearsome than the corelings. Yet in her disgrace, she becomes the guardian of dangerous ancient knowledge.

Orphaned and crippled in a demon attack, young Rojer takes solace in mastering the musical arts of a Jongleur, only to learn that his unique talent gives him unexpected power over the night.

Together, these three young people will offer humanity a last, fleeting chance of survival.
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As darkness falls each night, demons known as the corelings rise, and three young survivors of demon attacks risk everything to recover the secrets of the past to defeat the corelings and stop their relentless assault against humans.

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