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The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle Mass Market Paperback – March 23, 2010
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"Brett's debut builds slowly and grimly on a classic high fantasy framework of black-and-white morality and bloodshed. Young Arlen battles demons to save his mother while his father watches in terror; when his mother dies, Arlen runs away. Leesha leaves her village to work in the city hospital of Angiers after her betrothed claims to have taken her virginity. Jongleur Arrick Sweetsong saved himself from demons at the expense of a female friend, but he honors her last request and raises her son, Rojer, as his apprentice. Only near the end do the three strands of the story begin to intertwine. With its nameless enemies that exist only to kill, Brett's gritty tale will appeal to those who tire of sympathetic villains and long for old-school orc massacres."—Publishers Weekly
“I enjoyed The Warded Man immensely. There is much to admire in Peter Brett’s writing, and his concept is brilliant. There’s action and suspense all the way, plus he made me care about his characters and want to know what’s going to happen next.”—Terry Brooks
“The Warded Man works not only as a great adventure novel but also as a reflection on the nature of heroism.”—Charlaine Harris
“An absolute masterpiece . . . The novel [is] literally ‘unputdownable,’ and certainly deserves to be the next Big Thing in dark fantasy.”—HorrorScope
“A very accomplished debut fantasy, broad in its scope.”—SFRevu
“A fabulous new fantasy series . . . that is likely to become a classic. Excellent fantasy literature.”—The Cairns Post ,Queensland, Australia
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Peter V. Brett is the internationally bestselling author of the Demon Cycle series, which has sold more than 2.5 million copies in twenty-five languages worldwide. The novels in the series are The Warded Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War, The Skull Throne, and The Core. He spends too much time on the Internet, but occasionally unplugs to practice kickboxing and dad fu. He lives in Manhattan.
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I like fantasy stories, I am a big Game of Thrones, Name of the Wind fan and I like Dungeons and Dragons style stories.
This story was cool in that it was reasonably unique given the genre, the author did a nice job building the backstory on the main characters (some could say it was slow but I liked it).
The book is not as mature as Game of Thrones but it is too mature for my 10 year old to read it, I think 15+ would be great for this book.
I have not yet read any of the sequels (ordered the next one) but I look forward to them and I really enjoyed this book, finished it in a week or so. The book is not a complete cliff hangover but it also doesn't completely resolve the story at the end either.
I bought a Kindle copy of this book a few weeks ago because it was quite cheap. Ever since, the cover has just been staring at me. Yelling at me to pick it up. So I finally did. I really, really enjoyed this book. It surprised me, to be honest. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did for some reason.
With fantasy books, the world is so incredibly important to me. I need to be able to imagine where a character is, otherwise it tends to be very confusing. I really quite enjoyed the world of The Warded Man. At first, I was wondering about the ruling of the cities. Usually there is a king or queen, ruling the lands. Yet aside from the mentioning of certain Dukes, there wasn’t any mention of that here. As you’re reading though, you’ll see the intention behind this.
The book has a fun little map in the beginning, so it’s easy to see in which city or village the characters are at any given time. In this world, demons rise from the ground once the dark settles and kill anyone who isn’t within a warded area. This means that people flock together in villages and cities, which makes it easier to survive. There are little villages like Cutter’s Hollow (where Leesha’s from) and Tibbet’s Brook (where Arlen’s from). And then there are a few big cities such as Fort Miln and Fort Angiers. Each of these forts/big cities is ruled by a duke.
Because of the dangers during the night, no one really travels unless they have to. Yet not every city can provide for themselves, especially the small villages. Certain produce needs to travel, in order for people to survive. That’s where the Messengers come in. They are trained, and part of the Messenger’s Guild, and travel from the big cities through the small ones, trading for necessary goods.
I found this world so intriguing. Especially the magic (in a way) system. I loved the idea of the Wards. So, each Ward serves a specific purpose. You have some that keep out demons, some that can make demon-fire into harmless air or water, and so on. These wards are painted on walls, on floors, and pretty much everywhere else. I do wish that they have drawings of the wards in the book? In the Kindle version at least, there weren’t any which I though was quite a shame..
The last things I want to say about the world are that I thought the religion was intriguing too, and the different cultures within this country. The religion was intriguing because a sort of holy book does exist, and they have Tenders in small villages to preach and keep a Holy House. I also loved how Arlen challenged it. And the different cultures were intriguing too, especially in Krasia, a desert city.
This felt like a fast-paced read to me. I felt like this book gave me both an action-packed experience, and the time to get the know the characters. I think that’s because this book spans over several years, and it’s told through multiple POVs.
So we follow each character for several years. This really lets you live their life alongside them? You get to experience every hardship and triumph as it happens. I really love when novels are written this way. It’s no longer the man with the mysterious past. No, you get to see what happens to them immediately, and watch them grow into themselves.
I was just captivated by this book. I don’t have much time to read lately, but every spare moment I picked this one back up.
As I’ve mentioned, we follow 3 perspectives in this book. Thus, there are 3 main characters: Arlen, Leesha and Rojer.
I don’t really want to say a lot about each character because the synopsis doesn’t either. If the synopsis doesn’t say anything, neither will I. I do want to say that I admire each character for different reasons. I love Arlen because he’s so eager to learn, and doesn’t just accept something because everyone tells him that’s the way it is. He’s so brave. I love Leesha because she’s smart. Because she’s learned to stand up for herself. Because she doesn’t give up hope or trust, even when humanity has shown her its worst side. I love Rojer because of his eternal optimism. He’s always trying to make the best of a situation. There are many more characters I love though.
I also really appreciated the focus on women in these books. Often when fantasy books have a medieval kind of setting, they see the women as less than men. As they did in reality during those times. But not The Warded Man. Here are some of the quotes I loved:
“…Apart from Miln, none of the others give their women much voice at all.” “That sounds just as dumb,” Arlen muttered.
“Spare me the recitation from the Canon,” Bruna cut her off. “It’s a book written by men, without a thought given towards the plight of women.”
“Men are good for breaking and building, but politics and papers are best left to women who’ve been to the Mother’s School. Why, it’s Mothers that vote to choose a new duke when the old one passes!”
All in all, it’s safe to say that I loved this book. I’m curious to read the next books and see what happens, but I’m apprehensive at the same time. I’ve already heard that the sequels have many mixed reviews while the first one is more “universally loved”. So I’m a bit afraid. But I still want to see what happens to these characters!
The Warded Man is such an original book with unlimited potential. I'm writing this years after having read this book, and having had finished the series, but I thought leaving a few thoughts would be worthwhile.
First, Brett does a *fantastic* job at world building. I absolutely love the idea of the demons who come out at night to feast on the unwary or unwarded traveller or townsfolk. I think Brett does a fair job of explicating his magic system, the boundaries that constrain it, and how it all works. I like the idea of the messanger guild--it reminds me of old pony express stories in the U.S. West.
Second, Arlen is a compelling character. We learn what drives him to do what he does & why he sees the world as he does. It's your standard farm boy realizes can save the world type trope but with a twist or two. It's great. I love those stories. Jadir is also a great character. Over the series we learn about him, his homeland, and can appreciate the action he takes at one point. This plot point gets complicated in future books but Brett does a great job setting everything up.
One of the things I don't understand is why doesn't everyone start tattooing themselves. I mean, even with the word spreading about the exploits of the warded man, you'd think more people would try to emulate him. Or, at the very least be forward-thinking about wards & warding. You know?
This is the first in a five book series and definitely the best of the five.
The question becomes is it worth your time and money? I'd say yes with some caveats. The middle books suffer from what a lot of series do--filler and slow plot development. But, in my opinion, it's worth it the journey, especially now that it's completed.
One of my biggest criticisms of Brett's Demon Cycle series is that he creates a lot of tertiary characters that have so much potential--so so much potential--but, for whatever reason, aren't fully realized. Renna is an easy target here. From the story we learn here, she has a compelling backstory and he only hints at her centrality to the rest of the series in this book. Unfortunately, she is one-dimensional. Other than her anger, we have no idea what drives her & what makes her unique. You could literally replace her with anyone else and it would matter very little. Leesha is handled in a similar vein. There is so much potential for her but she's not fully realized. Rojer as well. His magics are GREAT, if not thoroughly explained. But things happen in future books that leaves you like WTF. Then by the end of the series, you have invested a great deal of time in these characters only to question their necessity. This is especially true for the Krasians. Such wasted potential with that world. It reminds me of Robert Jordan if he would have done the WoT in 5 books. I think Brett has so much going on that he compressed everything into 5 books for whatever reasons. There's a tension here: on the one hand, for this series, 5 books is way too much because there is SO much filler. On the other hand, he creates all these disparate subplots and threads that he could have easily done a much better job fleshing out everything in 6-7 books, you know? It's like when you grocery shop hungry. You buy all sorts of food but when you actually sit down to cook dinner and eat, your eyes are too big for your stomach. I think Brett had a great vision but lacked the editorial guidance to help shepherd him through the process. But that's my .2 & I'll get off my soap box.
TL;DR - The Warden Man is definitely worth your time. The Demon Cycle series as a whole *may* be worth your time if you set your expectations.