Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Desert Spear

The Desert Spear is the sequel to The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett, and takes several chances as a sequel that I'm not sure I liked.  The major one being that the first portion (almost a third) doesn't even feature the main characters from the first book.  When I started it I wanted to get back to the characters I'd come to love in TWM.  I was forced to wait for nearly 8 hours of audio before Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer got some stage time.  That being said, I still liked the book, if not quite as much as the first.

TDS starts off by jumping back in time, telling the story of Jardir and his rise to power among this world's pseudo-Islamic people.  He is a bit of a villain in the first book, and so it is interesting to gain perspective on his life and culture.  I came to appreciate him for the man he becomes.  Again, though, I wasn't really looking to be introduced to another protagonist.  Those introduced in The Warded Man were enough for me.  I suppose this is a case of the story the author is telling vs. the story I want him to tell.  Luckily, Brett is a great storyteller and I was able to overcome my annoyance with the way he developed things.

In TWM I was fairly certain Arlen, the main protagonist, was the Deliverer, returned to save mankind from the Corelings.  Now, though, I'm not so sure.  Jardir claims to be the Deliverer, while Arlen wants nothing to do with the title.  I really like that Brett is defying expectations.  He's using familiar fantasy tropes, but twisting them.  It makes for pleasant surprises.

(SPOILER ALERT) One twist in particular was the relationship between Leesha and Jardir.  There was a chance Leesha would marry Jardir and become a part of his harem.  It seems it isn't going to work out, but I was actually hoping for it after they'd spent time getting to know one another.  This would have been the ultimate surprise.  I'm still crossing my fingers for it in future volumes. (END OF SPOILER)

One thing I thought interesting: Jardir reminds me a lot of Dave Farland's Raj Ahtan.  I don't know if Brett has read The Runelords, but they are very similar characters... except that Jardir isn't a bad guy in my eyes anymore.  He appears to be the man Raj Ahtan could have been.  We'll have to wait for future books to find out how he turns out.

If you've read The Warded Man you have to continue with The Desert Spear.  The story doesn't move forward all that much, but it certainly deepens and sets the stage for book 3.  The fights with Corelings get tedious at times... there's only so many interesting ways to kill demons, but this is the major conflict in the series, so I don't know how to get around it.  The introduction of mind demons and mimics does help, and I'm eager to find out about more Coreling princes.  Also, I'd like to read more about Jardir's people subjugating the northerners, but I'm assuming that's what the next book (The Daylight War) will cover.

I give The Desert Spear 3.5 stars out of 5, if only because I didn't like it as much as the first, so can't award it the same score. (Maybe 3.75)      

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