The Warded Man
by Peter V. Brett
Format: Hardback, 416 pages
Publisher: Del Ray
Cover Design: Albert Stark, Lauren K. Cannon
Release Date: March 10, 2009
For as long as anyone can remember, night has been the dominion of the corelings - demons that rise like steam from the core of the earth to take on terrible forms. For hundreds of years, the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards. Ages ago, mankind battled the corelings are equal ground, but the fighting wards have long been lost and fear is the only thing most people know.
However, three survivors are determined to change their world. Rojer was crippled by the demons that killed his parents and seeks solace in music only to find that music can also be a weapon. Leesha, harmed by both men and demons, becomes a master healer and a gatherer of knowledge. Arlen, the main focus of the narrative, will pay any price to battle the corelings. His path will lead him beyond the boundary of what it means to be human.
The Warded Man was published as The Painted Man in the United Kingdom late last year, yet the American title seems more appropriate as it is the term used in the book. The book is really a pretty standard fantasy with dark forces that prey on humankind and a farm boy who will rise to greatness. Indeed, Arlen is a bit of a “Mary Sue”, doing and thinking of things that apparently nobody else ever has before. Another problem was that the initial family dynamics for each of the characters seemed a little contrived to produce the characters that would be necessary later on.
Luckily, the novel’s early problems are lessened and resolved a bit as the plot advances. I admire the fact that the author cut across months and even years to keep the plot and pace going steadily. He also did a good job making me care about the characters. Although the three main characters aren’t especially complex, they do evolve a fair deal with Arlen experiencing the most development. Overall, the book was a good, fun read and I liked the world that Peter Brett created.
The Warded Man is a standard fantasy story yet it’s also an entertaining one and I look forward to the next book. Recommended.