Peter V. Brett makes a strong debut with The Warded Man. The dark fantasy, which was titled The Painted Man in England, is the first book of The Demon Trilogy. The highly inventive plot of this character based story captures the imagination immediately. Readers get to experience every emotion and motivation as the protagonists grow and develop.
When darkness comes the corelings emerge from below ground. These demons of sand, wood, wind, flame and rock, attack and kill until morning light. Magical wards offer some protection but are often overcome. Eleven year-old Arlen flees his village after his mother is killed and becomes obsessed with the idea of leading an attack on the demons. Meanwhile thirteen year-old Leesha becomes a healer and Rojer, crippled in the same attack that killed his parents, turns to music for solace. The fates of these two will become entwined with Arlen's as he grows into a mythical figure painted with wards, a man who stands against the demons.
Brett's high fantasy is based on a fascinating premise and he blends themes of heroism and passiveness throughout. He sets the scene well in this first book by establishing the back history of his three main characters - Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer. Readers get to follow them as they age and experience the events that influence them. The author also does a great job making his world believable and depicting the characteristic mental attitudes in small towns. All this and he manages to include some romance, action and adventure scenes as well. This is a page-turner, an awesome book with a satisfying climax, but luckily for us there's much more to come in future books.
Publisher: Del Rey; First Printing edition (March 10, 2009)
Hardcover: 432 Pages