Saturday, 12 July 2014

Review: 'The Daylight War' by Peter V. Brett

On the night of a new moon all shadows deepen.

Humanity has thirty days to prepare for the next demon attack, but one month is scarcely enough time to train a village to defend themselves, let alone an entire continent caught in the throes of civil war.

Arlen Bales understands the coreling threat better than anyone. Born ordinary, the demon plague has shaped him into a weapon so powerful he has been given the unwanted title of saviour, and attracted the attention of deadly enemies both above and below ground.

Unlike Arlen, Ahmann Jardir embraces the title of Deliverer. His strength resides not only in the legendary relics he carries, but also in the magic wielded by his first wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose allegiance even Jardir cannot be certain of.

Once Arlen and Jardir were like brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies prepare, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all: those that lurk in the human heart.

The Daylight War, book #3 in the Demon Cycle, started out really well. In the first few chapters we’re thrown into the origin story of one of the most powerful characters of the series, and are given our first real insights into Inevera. The focus on her humble background, rigorous training and gradual rise to power made her much more sympathetic than in the previous book, and built her up as a really strong and likeable character.

However, I felt that the story began to flounder once it returned to the main story. The characters spend the vast majority of the novel preparing for Waning, or new moon, which is when the demon army will attack the humans in force for the first time in hundreds of years. I was really looking forward to this, expecting the build-up and conflict to be something close to epic. However, it actually involved a surprising lack of action, as the characters spend a lot of their preparation time travelling back and forth, talking a lot, and agonising over their love lives. The battle itself is not really given that much page time and is therefore a little bit anti-climactic, with entire nights just skimmed over, and not really enough emphasis on the catastrophic scale of destruction caused by the demons. In fact, much of the latter half of the book feels somewhat disjointed, as it switches from Arlen’s experience of the Waning assault to Jardir’s, and there are a few flashback scenes in the book that feel quite repetitive (there’s one particular event that we’ve now seen from no less than 3 characters’ points of view).

The Daylight War introduces several new characters, and continues to follow the old ones, with mixed results. Leesha sadly seems to have regressed from her strong persona into something more shallow, and spends much of the novel being defined by her feelings for different men; and Renna, who was actually one of my favourite characters in The Desert Spear, quickly became irritating, as did the dialect in which she and Arlen spoke. However, I did enjoy the new Rojer-Amanvah-Sikvah dynamic, and Abban’s segments are also interesting; but Inevera’s story is definitely the part I enjoyed most.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading The Daylight War. It just started to feel like a chore after a while, and I found that I didn’t really care what happened to the characters any more. I think it’s partly because the demons aren’t frightening any more. The characters can fight them easily now, and aren’t even the slightest bit worried about walking outside at night. But it was the characters’ fear of the darkness and the demons that made The Painted Man so distinctive, and kept me on edge whilst reading it. In The Desert Spear, the characters were less afraid of the demons, but there were enough other things going on to keep up the readers’ anticipation. I get that The Daylight War is supposed to be more about the conflict between the Krasians and the Thesans, but sadly I felt that, by taking away this defining aspect of the series, the book lost much of that atmosphere that made the first two books such a joy to read.


Click here to view The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) on Amazon UK

Click here to read my review of The Painted Man (Demon Cycle #1)
Click here to read my review of The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle #2)

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