7 December 2013

The Painted Man - Peter V. Brett

The Painted Man (Demon Cycle, #1)
Image from Goodreads
The Painted Man is the first book in Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle which begins with Arlen Bales watching his mother get torn to shreds by demons whilst his father stands by and does nothing. The start of this story is innocuous enough. It shows a quiet country idyll... where people just happen to be slaves to the night. 

The premise of this book, and indeed this series is unique, a world where demons rise at night while people are trapped behind their walls, and their fear. I think the reason that this book tells such a good story is because it rings true. Most books in the fantasy genre are full of people who fear nothing and fight monsters on a daily basis, I like those kinds of books, but this book is refreshing. 

If our world were really filled with demons, how many of us would actually stand up and fight? I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't, without first being prompted by someone with more courage than me. It's at this point that this book goes from an above average concept to a freaking fantasy great. 

Arlen Bales lets his anger towards his father at his mothers needless death steer the course of his life, as he wallows he finds ways to fight back at the night. Subtle ways at first, such as becoming a messenger, stepping out into the night to deliver mail and goods. Firmer ways such as learning to ward skilfully, and even antagonising a demon by cutting off its arm. All the way searching for a more solid way to hurt the demons. 

When he finally succeeds his reception couldn't be colder, but it's such a realistic situation, portrayed so well. It really did turn him into the hero of the novel, which is why I felt shocked when at that point we were introduced to a whole host of new characters. 

Leesha Paper and Rojer Halfgrip, unlikely companions with equallly unlikely stories who have ties to a place in a lot of trouble. They return Arlen to himself; and so they helped the 'ripping deliverer' convince one small town to fight back. Peter V. Brett showed us that if we just had someone to point us in the right direction we'd be able to be heroes too.

On a side note I really liked the romantic nuances between Leesha and Arlen and would have liked to see that develop further.


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