Peter V. Brett

Demon Trilogy, Book 2

Harper Voyager (2010)

ISBN: 978 0 00 727 618 9

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely, May 2010

The demons rise nightly in the forgotten country of Thesa, and in the greenlands, almost all humanity hides away behind warded walls. The southlanders are different: fierce desert warriors who brave the battle nightly, the greatest honour to die fighting the demons, believers in the Deliverer who will one day unite the tribes and defeat the enemy forever. It seems he has arrived in the form of Ahmann Jardir, who wields the Deliverer’s spear.

The greenlanders have their own beliefs thought and now their own version of the Deliverer. The Painted Man exhorts his people to fight too, sharing the newly regained attack wards with them, and teaching them how to survive with courage, instead of hiding in the night. But there can only be one Deliverer and conflict is the only possible outcome.

Despite the idea that The Desert Spear is about Jardir (the Shar’Dama Ka) and the Painted Man as adversaries, there is little of this demonstrated in the book. Instead, we learn Jardir’s backstory, told through chapter flashbacks that also give us the merchant Abban’s story as well. Jardir’s rise to power is an intricate, harsh and fascinating story, and the flashback style works well, intertwined with the main story at hand and interlaced with the continuing saga of Arden (the Painted Man himself), the Herb Gatherer Leesha (and the fate of her village), and the Jongleur (and demon tamer) Rojer. Slowly the threads of story begin to pull together, bringing us ever closer to confrontation.

As with the first book, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Brett does a good job creating three-dimensional characters which are interesting to read about. He has a tendency to make his female characters a little too competent (Leesha, Wonda and Renna all learn new skills at an extraordinary pace), but in general, the cast is believable. The pace is solid throughout, with some nail-biting tension and relationships that wax and wane realistically. While it makes more sense to begin with the first novel in the sequence, The Painted Man, a new reader would most likely manage to pick up the story fairly easily. The biggest problem with the book is simple: there’s too long to wait for the next one!