Having read and loved THE WARDED MAN (reviewed here) by Peter V. Brett (blog, twitter), I’m surprised it took me so long to read THE DESERT SPEAR. Waiting so long was clearly a mistake on my part. This was a fantastic read.
THE DESERT SPEAR was very different from THE WARDED MAN, but no less fantastic. Whereas the first book was about humans learning to fight back against the corelings, this book was about whether humanity would (or even could) unite against the demons, and if so, under whose guidance. You see, THE DESERT SPEAR just doesn’t take up where book 1 left off. Instead, it jumps back and forth in time, giving readers a detailed history of Ahmann Jardir and the Krasians, before proceeding with parallel tales of the two potential Deliverers: Jardir and Arlen. Although scanning the table of contents, I was a little disappointed to learn that I would be spending so much time learning about Jardir, but while reading it, I loved it. it was particularly striking to learn his motivations for why he did what he did to Arlen in book 1 (sorry, I’m trying to keep this spoiler free).
Once again, Brett demonstrates his talent for worldbuilding. Krasia is a wonderful mix of Sparta, feudal Japan, and Middle Eastern traditions. Not only is it a richly detailed world, but by using POV characters from different castes, Brett explores this world from different angles, allowing readers to soak up the details. Although, there are times when Brett jumps from POV to POV not only within a chapter but also within a single scene, I think he did a good job of presenting unique perspectives, particularly considering how many he was juggling at one time. But it could be confusing for readers if you miss the POV shift.
And don’t worry, Arlen is not shortchanged in this book. We see not only how powerful he has become, but also the effects, sometimes terrible, of his transformation into the Warded Man. Arlen has been staring into the abyss for so long, he’s in danger of becoming more beast than man. As Arlen confronts the people he abandoned in the past, Brett portrays Arlen’s fragile humanity in a subtle and delicate way.
I also liked that Brett gave us a coreling POV. With Jardir and Arlen becoming so powerful, the corelings were not as scary as they were in book 1. So the coreling POV give us a glimpse of new demons, far more powerful than what we had seen previously. Additionally, we get a glimpse of the Core, and the horrors it’s about to unleash upon the world.
In THE WARDED MAN, the world was broken. In THE DESERT SPEAR, the world is starting to crumble. Two men think they have the answer. Jardir wants to unite the world under his banner, but Arlen wants people to stand up and fight on their own, for their own. Who is right? Who is wrong? I can’t wait to read THE DAYLIGHT WAR and find out what happens next in the fight between men and demon.