Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Demon Cycle: The Daylight War, a review

Peter Brett’s TheWarded Man was the kind of book that was filled with wonders.  The world was rich with history.  The magic was unique.  The enemies were fascinating.  And the protagonist, Arlen Bales, was a man to be reckoned with.  The sequel, The Desert Spear, took a side-step to the series, switching primary POVs for several hundred pages, re-hashing events from The Warded Man only from a different perspective.  Despite some hesitation, I still rather enjoyed The Desert Spear.

The Daylight War, the third book in Brett’s Demon Cycle, again side-steps, though thankfully less robust this time around.  The book focuses a lot on Krasian culture through Inevera’s POV, and the Reader gets to see the her life from childhood to becoming the most powerful woman in Krasia.  Sporadically the POV switches to Leesha, Rojer, or Renna.  Less frequently we get a scene from Arlen’s or Ahmann’s POV.  Throughout all the shifts we see how different people react to the rising demon threat.

This threat is imminent.  The book begins with a countdown.  There are 30 days until New Moon, when the demon minds rise and cause substantial damage.  The bulk of the book culminates to the night with a small epilogue to the action that offered more enjoyment than the majority of things beforehand.  (Please excuse any ambiguity.  I’m trying to remain as spoiler-free as possible.)

It’s difficult to say whether or not I liked The Daylight War.  As a Reader I felt both excitement and boredom.  The book was hefty and I felt like a lot of it could be trimmed down.  I, for one, didn’t think Inevera needed such a detailed background.  I wanted more “present-day” action, and instead I got a lot of transitional scenes and character musings.   I also felt like Arlen’s character arc took a wompy loop, as his choices were either meticulously planned or off-the-cuff.

One major disappointment with this book (major enough to deserve its own paragraph) was just how sexual it was.  I understand that Krasian society is structured the way it is, but Brett seemingly turned a spotlight on the stuff.  He was explicit for no reason other than being explicit, and this just seems adolescent to me.  

Despite my difficulties in assessing the book, the strong points of The Daylight War were indeed strong.  Brett’s world continues to be unique and rich.  His action scenes continue to be entertaining.  I’m definitely interested in reading more of The Demon Cycle, but I’m okay with waiting a few years, too.  Hopefully with the next book we’ll actually progress the plot a bit more, but who can say.  If you’ve read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them then you’ll likely find things you like in The Daylight War that you like, too.  If you’re looking for the plot to take a giant step forward, steel yourself for some minor disappointment.  The Daylight War is readable and entertaining in parts, but it’s easily the weakest installment of Brett’s growing catalog.

As a side note, I was mildly embarrassed to be seen in public with this book.   The cover looks like it belongs on a Harlequin romance novel or something.  It does fit the pattern established by cover art, but it's still rather weak, I think.  Of course, I'm not a big fan of photo-realistic art for covers anyway.


Anonymous said...

yeah, that cover does bring harlequin or even young adult fiction for girls... so many reasons why e-readers are popular and why requesting paper over plastic at the store is a good idea.

curious how much pressure GRRM's fan base has put on these other epic fantasy authors--not that miniscule leaps in plot or time between books, graphic sex scenes, and bulk are new.


Bill said...

Next time you should brown bag cover it like we did for our books in high school!

logankstewart said...

@L: Great point, L. The real question is whether GRRM is trailblazing the gritty fantasy or if people are just shifting towards Realism, leaving behind the superficiality genre tends to pick up? Regardless, the graphic violence/sex/etc. is almost a fad. I shutter to think of it becoming commonplace.

@Bill: Oh man. That's a fantastic idea!