The Desert Spear
Author – Peter V. Brett
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 13, 2010
When buzz first began to build about Peter V. Brett, it wasn’t his debut novel, The Warded Man (REVIEW), everyone was talking about. Rather, it was about the Blackberry-like device he wrote the majority of the novel on, during his morning commute. Once readers got their hands on The Warded Man, the seriousness of Brett’s achievement became readily apparent – not only had he written a novel during his morning commute, using little more than his thumbs, he’d written a good novel during his morning commute. A damn good novel.
The Warded Man snuck its way onto my Best Novels of 2009 list. I was taken in by the strong characters, the easy pace and the imaginative magic system. The success of Brett’s debut was a surprise to everyone, but with that success comes a lot of pressure, placed squarely on the shoulders of The Desert Spear, Brett’s second novel and sequel to The Warded Man.
The opening chapters of The Desert Spear begin on the right foot, promising a novel that is everything The Warded Man was and more. Telling the life story of Jardir, a villanous character in The Warded Man, Brett pulls back the curtain on the absolutely brutal Krasian culture. A ruthless caste system, organized sodomy and rape, friends and family pit against each other in the name of honour, Krasia makes the lands predominantly featured in The Warded Man look tame in comparison. He takes Jardir, a character easy to hate, and pits him against a violent culture, creating empathy where I never thought I’d find any.
Easily the strongest part of the novel, Brett’s prose and language evolves, wrapping itself honestly about the storytelling and bringing a maturity to the novel that sets him in line with contemporaries like Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan. It’s after Jardir’s tale, when the tale catches up to the familiar tale of Leesha, Rojer and Arlen that things start to go south.
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