When I opened the package I got in the mail couple weeks ago, to my delight, I found an arc of The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I began to read it.
For hundreds of years, demons ruled the night, killing and devouring humans and animals. Humans lived in fear, 'warding' their homes for protection from the monsters, or using portable ones or etched wards in the dirt or in caves whenever they traveled the roads and were caught out at night from the nearest human habitation. This first book in a trilogy is the story of three young people; Arlen, Leesha, an expert healer, and Rojer, whose playing his violin charms the savage demons, keeping them at bay.
Though the story interchanges to give us each person's life from a young age to adulthood, there is no doubt right off the bat in my mind who will become the legendary Warded Man. Arlen sees his mother die from demon poisen before his eyes, thanks to a demon's mauling her as his father watched in fear from the porch of their home, not once rushing out to help her or Arlen. It took Arlen himself to save her and himself by remaining in a pig pen through a night of horror. This will change Arlen, fill him with rage at those afraid to fight back. Alone at the same time, hatred and rage at the demons will fester inside him like demon poisen. So much of this can also be seen as hidden hatred of himself, a feeling of worthlessness. Arlen will have a dream of defeating the demons, of trying to draw mankind in to join him to do so. This fills him to the point that we can see it as his one, true passion. So much does this cripple him, that he runs away from his father after his mother's last breath, leaves his apprenticeship before his time is up, and even away from marriage with a young woman who loves him.
It will lead him into a desert and an abandoned city, where he will learn something of the past of his world. He will find a way to use wards in a way that had never been used before. In the long run he will become more inhuman than the demons.
There wasn't much really to Leesha's story. Sadly, I didn't feel she had enough story in the book for me to get to know her. We do learn more of Rojer though. I actually liked him of all three characters. I felt sorry for him, for it seems that bad luck follows at his heels like a hungry dog, making him feel that everyone dies by demons because of him. He is the most believable of them.
The romance parts were a little bland to me. Maybe in the next book, Mr. Brett will embellish more in this. I hope so. And there are months and years missing with all of the characters' lives. Like for example, Leesha leaves her village to become another Herb Gatherer's apprentice in Angiers and suddenly a few chapters later she is twenty-eight years old and has been a Herb Gatherer for years.
Those facts aside, I did enjoy this book and was hooked, reading until the last page. I look forward to the next book coming out later this year.
The Warded Man in bookstores: NOW
Review copy provided by Del Rey
Ths Book Earned 4 1/2 DRAGONS.