Review: The Desert Spear

If you have yet to read The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett or even read The Painted Man (the book that precedes it and also known as The Warded Man in the US) you may not want to read any further as it can be somewhat harder to avoid spoilers in a review for the second book (or at least I think it is). If you can’t read further, just keep in mind that it is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend The Painted Man, but if you’ve read The Painted Man already and plan on reading The Desert Spear keep in mind that The Desert Spear is somewhat different, but still an excellent read.

Synopsis

The sun is setting on humanity. Demons rise each night to prey upon a dwindling population. Legends tell of a Deliverer who once drove the creatures away, but those times are long past and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth…. or is it?

Out of the southlands rides Ahmann Jadir, leading an army of desert warriors and proclaiming himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. Sworn to follow the path of the first Deliverer, he has come to bring the scattered city-states of the north together in a war against demonkind – whether they like it or not.

But the green-landers claim their own Deliverer. The Painted Man, whose skin is tattooed with wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. He teaches men and women to face their fears and stand against the creatures that have tormented them for centuries.

Once the Shar’Dama Ka and the Painted Man were brothers in arms, but betrayal has turned them fierce adversaries.

As old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances created, a new breed of demon waits in the shadows, more intelligent – and deadly – than any that have come before.

It was yesterday that I finally finished The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett, but I started writing a review for it after the first 100 pages. The reason being is I was very impressed with it’s start which was following the Krasians and their culture told via the lives of two of the main Krasian characters. I wrote so much about that first section (the novel is written in several sections, lives of the Krasians being one of them) it became one of the longest reviews I had written in some time and that was only a small part of the book.

There are several reasons why I was so impressed and was going to number them, but I’m all over the place today so will just type them up as I go and see what happens. I also want to point out that there are some things I’m disappointed about which I’m going to mention because there are a lot of things to mention about this book, but at the same time on sites that I rate this book I have been rating it 9 and a half stars out of 10. Apart from The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, The Painted Man was one of the best fantasy series starters I had read in the last few years and I still really enjoy the trilogy thus far so these disappointments are slight, but enough to grate on my nerves at times. I’m not sure if that’s personal taste and preference or more generalised so please read it and make up your own mind.

The Desert Spear kept me up very late. I found myself not wanting to actually pick up the book and start reading because I knew if I did I wouldn’t be able to put it down and the first thing I wanted to do when I woke in the morning was pick it up again. It is a very engrossing book and it drove me up the wall because of it. I think some of that is, thanks to it’s previous book, I already found the story and idea very entertaining. Even though for me it was a predictable story, which was unfortunate and I started to predict the story back during Painted Man, but even so it wasn’t so predictable it was off putting. Then again, maybe I’ve read so wide and so much that it’s too hard to surprise me anymore so that might be something you should see for yourself.

I think it’s great that the first section is dedicated to Krasia the desert and warrior culture in the story.  It fascinates me because it is a very Spartan culture and one of the main characters it follows is a very interesting character who is so determined and strong, but at the same time he ends up being a puppet for someone else. Yet I don’t feel sorry for him. In fact, compared to the first book, there’s only one character I actually feel any sympathy, empathy, and pity towards because to me the other characters deserve the tight spots they get themselves into. They’re quite daft characters in a way, but I’ll get into that a bit later.

The detailed story in the beginning with the Krasian perspective helps to give the whole story a new twist and it was refreshing reading it from another perspective, particularly when you come across dialogue with certain characters that had been in the previous book because in this instance you get to see it from the Krasian’s point of view and what their intentions were.

I think the author has done some great, solid character work within the first 200 pages (the Krasian section) which seems like a small part (the novel itself is just shy of 600 words in a tall softback), but really it’s quite a fundamental part of the story and influences the rest of it. I think this is where my disappointment begins because even though I still enjoy the story and there is some great detail after this section, I feel towards the end of the novel the characters had started to meld to a degree. Characters that I felt had charisma early on in the whole story (including the first novel) lost it at some point, especially Jardir who really is such a great character to read. He sets out on this holy expedition that he so fervently believes in and has set his whole life around yet he gets so tricked up later on. All the characters seem to, what I thought were smart characters end up making some very dumb decisions, and they don’t end up coming across as very well defined anymore.

Which is why I’m really grateful for the introduction of the new species of enemy and a re-introduction of an older character. One is very intriguing and adds a new element to the story. The other (which explains the new picture on the author’s website – check it out at your own risk because it is a potential spoiler), even though I could see it coming from a mile away and at some point she turns out to be very similar to a lot of the main characters, she’s still refreshing and charismatic.

Around the time I noticed the characters melding I also noticed how much the language changed and it frustrated me because yes it’s two very different cultures, but the writing style was affected in such a way that it grated on my nerves. I don’t like saying anything bad about the author’s writing because I really do like this author, but it was frustrating because it felt like the two different cultures influenced the style when I don’t see why it should have. It felt like reading two different books at times. Then there was change in dialogue which drove me bananas, but this is the part where I’m not sure it’s personal preference or is really something others are going to notice so you have to read it for yourself to decide.

There’s also one aspect about this book that highly amuses me. If I had an opportunity to ask the author one question about this book I’d ask him if he was watching Firefly at all while writing it. Sure it could be just a coincidence and most probably is, but towards the end I started noticing more and more how the characters used the term sunny because they did use it more (another thing I noticed about the dialogue). I know that night is used as a curse and exclamation, so too with sunny, but in the beginning (after the Krasian section) sunny wasn’t used as much as night was and as the story drew on it seemed to appear more often along with sunny. I’m not going to say it was a reference, because the use as sunny as a term makes perfect sense in this story, but it still did remind me of Firefly. I kept expecting characters to come out with shiny, goram and even the way they cursed with corespawn and variations of night made me think of Firefly.

I think this review is long enough and even though I have some gripes with the book it is one of my top ones. If anyone reads it please let me know what you think. I’d love to read your thoughts on it, even if you completely disagree with me.

About Bonnie Sparks

Between a blogging addiction, hosting reading challenges, reviewing, writing novels, and overcoming a neuro-immune disease, Bonnie attempts to do as many awesome things as she can and has a good dose of daily bunny cuddles. She resides in Western Sydney with her rabbit, Winston.

5 thoughts on “Review: The Desert Spear

  1. Pingback: Peter V Brett :: Peephole In My Skull

  2. [Spoilers]

    Don’t shut up! I got anoyed with the second part because it seemed like a cop out. It reminded me of Dragonlance. Characters became stereotypes (where he used to be so great at originality) and plots became so ffing predictable! And yes, it became all lovey dovey… It was interesting how they only way Arlen could have a partner is to have one similarly marked…. Lots of sociological discussion possible there! It is great how he wasnt moralising sex (like most do) but at the same time, yes, it was just too convenient. All the main characters have love interests pfft. I wonder if Gared and Wona(?) hook up in the next one LOL I dont know. I loved the series, but I think the second half was weak, especially when the first half was brilliant and it, together with The Painted Man had meant I had come to expect so much more from Brett…

    I did like the scene with the Duke’s mother *snickers*

    • Yes I think the sociological aspects throughout the story, including with Arlen, are great. I could go on about those all day. Especially with the whole conflict between the desert culture and the more western culture. Reminds me of the conflict between the Middle East and West. I love seeing current affairs coming through and other issues being portrayed through novels. Even if it’s not intended and you can see it anyway. I think it’s a great way for readers to relate to the story as well, intentionally or not, and that it’s a great way to show different perspectives.

      For instance, the whole rape victim falling in love with a rape enabler, but even though he condones rape and encourages it he just doesn’t know any better. I was surprised by all the love interest, but it was a great tool to help Jardir see things differently even though he didn’t really change perspective and it was just a manipulation in the end. Then again, who the hell changes that much in a short time anyway? I don’t think it’s really possible, not when it’s born from a romantic experience.

      I can’t imagine Gared and Wonda hooking up. I bet a lot of fan fiction is written where they do though lol.

      For all it’s problems though or our problems with it, I still think it’s a great read and the fact that so many of readers are picking up on things like that or even feeling a mild disappointment at all (like we are) says a lot I reckon. I can’t wait till the next one, especially after that part where Arlen goes into the core. I loved that. I love that whole concept and then the new sinister enemy who isn’t even the worst of the lot. There’s some great and dark imagery there. Makes me wonder what could happen next with that and who the hell is the Deliverer meant to be.

      Yeah that was pretty good with the Duke’s mother. If only they knew hey?

  3. I would give him SOOOOO much kudos is his characters started saying goram LOL Maybe even if they just said “corespawn it” in the same tone Jayne says it LOL

    I dont have the mental spoons or time to give my opinion, aside from that I agree with most of your comments. I still plan on writting a proper review, but for now, here is a cut and past job from the minireview I wrote:

    “I finished this last night. I really loved the first half about the Krasians. I have a thing about desert cultures, and it was really good to see more about their motivations. I think the second half of the book went on too many tangents, but I still loved it. I think he is mostly setting up the third book, but at the same time, I am not too sure I like the connections he is making. The last tangent is annoying me, and the last line was a total WTF moment. I love the development with the corelings, and I want to know more. There is a passage at the end of the book that was very intriguing. I am hooked, I need to read the third book! I would have given it a lower score, but the first half of the book was terrific.
    4/5 Stars”
    The last tangent being when we met up with the older character you are aluding to. I dont want to give away spoilers either LOL That last line really really made me PO! It was just too trite?? I dont know. I think I want to reread it, and see if I can reconcile…

    Five stars for section one, 3.5 for the second half, and added together I gave it 4 stars…

    • When they used corespawn it I actually thought of Jayne lol and it wasn’t just what they were saying, but other stuff too that they did. It was so weird.

      I’m hooked too and can’t wait for the last book, but I’m glad you’ve had that reaction about the second part. Although the last line I found an easy time accepting because I saw it coming, but also because by that point all the characters had started to lose it (spoilers for anyone reading these comments), don’t you think they all just got a little lovey dovey? I don’t know what was up with that. A couple of them sure, but that was a bit ridiculous I think so by that last line I was thinking… I don’t want to say in case someone does read these comments, but it matched up anyway.

      I also went and read up on a bunch of reviews after I finished writing this one (I wrote it yesterday) and a lot of other people think it was a bit ridiculous too and a lot of the romantic story lines they found to be a bit unbelievable. I do too, one in particular, which appeared to be too convenient for me. Also all the characters having love interests with others – they’re all similar people. It’s frustrating.

      I’m going to shut up now…

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