UK: The Painted Man (Demon Cycle #1)
US: The Warded Man
Author: Peter V. Brett
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.
Imagine a world where you have to hide behind wards every night because demons rise from the ground once the daylight disappeared. Your line of defence is made up of mere drawings that can fade or can be covered and still; those scribbles protect your life. Don’t leave your home. Don’t step over the circle. Never let the night find you on the road without necessary equipment. If you don’t obey these rules you’re as good as dead.
The Painted Man follows the story of three demon attack survivors: Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. We see them first as children and we stay with them as they learn the tricks of their profession. One of them has a mission, another a village to look after and the third lives to entertain the crowds but all of them end up becoming something more than they aspired to be.
But how can a Messenger, an Herb Gatherer and a Jongleur make a world haunted by corelings a better place? First they have to make their hands dirty with the enemy’s blood.
This book deserves all the praise because it is not a horror story yet sometimes it chilled me to the bone. It wasn’t the demons that scared me to be honest, but the people and what fear did to them. I think the biggest message of the story is that the greatest enemy is fear and if you defeat it, you are capable of anything.
The character that is the main advocate of this lesson is Arlen and that’s why he becomes the real protagonist of the first book. I liked him but I confess sometimes he seemed unnecessarily reckless to me and there were a few times I didn’t understand his decisions. I was happy with the development he went through close to the end of the book though, I liked the man he became eventually.
Leesha and Rojer were also very likable but I can never resist a woman with a strong will so I would call Leesha my favourite. She’s also very sensitive and in connection with this let me mention that Peter V. Brett writes emotions very well. He lets women cry, he lets little boys and men cry. Like every writer should.
I am satisfied with the world-building too because we get glimpses of how a village and a city looks like, we get a picture of how people alter their living environment in order to be able to defend themselves against every kind of – wind, rock, wood, water and sand – demon. I enjoyed the part that was set in a desert the most.
In short, I’m glad I put this book on my TBR and I count myself lucky for coming across it in a small bookshop in London. Book two, here I come!
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Next in the series:
The Desert Spear
Look at that cover! Isn't it gorgeous??