Editor’s Note: This review contains minor spoilers for The Painted Man (The Warded Man in the US). Read with caution if you have yet to finish the first book. You can read Overlord’s review of The Painted Man here.

Peter V. Brett literally exploded onto the scene in 2008/2009 when his first novel was released into the world of fantasy literature. For those who have read The Painted Man (The Warded Man in the US) – there is little doubt in my mind that upon finishing it you would have been crying out for more of the same.

And with good reason too. Brett writes with purpose – everything in The Painted Man moves quickly and yet the worldbuilding and character development is as good as I’ve ever experienced. We know the characters in The Painted Man, we know how they will react to things, we feel for them and we literally feel part of their journey. The world is terrifying and we can see the demons as real, living, breathing creatures. Action scenes are breathtaking and then there is also that no-nonsense style that Brett has where every sentence seems to contribute to the story. Finally, the story itself of one man choosing to take a stand against a foe that had ruled over mankind for hundreds of years is an epic one.

So, in case you have not yet guessed, after reading The Painted Man, I liked Peter V. Brett. I liked what he brought to the table. I loved the simplicity of story in the first book and yet the complexity of the journey. I certainly wasn’t alone – most people gave the novel top marks (like I did). One thing that some people did say to me though – through Twitter, forums and on other review sites – was that perhaps the story was too simple compared to other work. Perhaps it needed more development, more characters, more of a history, more details about the smaller things in Brett’s world. Some even said that it was too predictable.

Well fans and critics alike, you are going to learn more, experience more and feel more. I am also going to tell you that upon reading the first 1, 3, and then 10 pages, everything you thought you knew, thought was going to happen and the point you expected to start at will be changed.

– – –

We start The Desert Spear with the viewpoint of the Corelings. In the first book, Brett portrayed the Corelings as unintelligent demons that are motivated purely by a primitive lust for destruction. By the end of the introduction we learn that the Coreling Prince is in fact able to communicate to the other Corelings telepathically and is quite interested in the goings on up on the surface.

The introduction though is the last we see of the Coreling Price until quite a bit further into the book.

So, back to the Painted Man’s journey?


We don’t catch up with Arlen, Leesha or Rojer actually until around a third through the book.

Remember Arlen’s old friend, the leader of the Krasian Armies that fought the demons in the maze? The one who welcomed him openly to his city during his messenger days and fought alongside him, killing hundreds of Corelings? The one beat him, left him for dead in the desert and stole the warded spear? Well… there’s your new hero!

I told you things had changed. Jardir has named himself as the new Deliverer and the people of Krasia have openly accepted him as such. In this book, the first third of its pages will shift between Jardir’s youth, his journey from the lowest of low in his culture to the most powerful leader seen since the past Deliverer, and his present day journey where he looks to take over the surrounding cities and add them to his army.

It seems that Jardir believes that as Deliverer he has been chosen by Everam (the Krasian God) to unite all humans of the world by any means possible. It is all in order to begin the Daylight War where the humans will take on the demons. I won’t say much more than that in fear of spoiling this wonderful journey – that is full of twists, turns, somersaults, back-flips, and much more besides. But every time you think you get Jardir, or you think you know what is going to happen next, Brett changes it.

It is a wonderful skill that he has. One minute you love a character, the next you hate them. The picture he paints of Jardir’s upbringing is one that says to me that Brett spent a HUGE amount of time planning and researching foreign cultures, because I myself even right now, after I have finished the book could tell you their philosophies, their social ranking order, their military system, their religious believes, the state of their economy and paint you a pretty damned realistic view of their country and its environment.

A few people have said in other reviews that they were confused why Brett took a step backwards (around 30 years) for such a large portion of the book, but it is quite evident once you finish the completed piece. Brett uses Jardir’s upbringing as a way to not only explain his story, but to properly describe to you the history of the humans versus humans and the reasoning for what this world has become. I can guarantee that by the end of section one you will know Brett’s world inside out and be much more confident in immersing yourself in the continuation of Arlen, Leesha and Rojer’s story.

– – –

Those concerned or hyperventilating with worry (like I was), can stop worrying though! We do catch up with Arlen, Leesha and Rojer eventually. And once we do, it is even more evident why Brett has taken us on the slight detour. Whereas Jardir claimed himself to be the Deliverer, the Painted Man has been announced as such by others because of his warded flesh and its possible mention in their bible’s description. It says of the Deliverer: “For he shall be marked upon his bare flesh…” and “the demons will not abide the sight, and they shall flee terrified before him.”

Arlen, Leesha and Rojer living in Cutter’s Hollow (now renamed Deliverer’s Hollow) have used Arlen’s influence and his warding weapon making skills to build a community much unlike that of the first book. Residents now fight the demons and no longer fear the night to such an extent. Their problems now involve more political issues such as how they are going to cope with all the refugees turning up to the Hollow after having fled from their towns and cities as Jardir’s army takes over. How are they going to keep winning their battles against the demons whilst at the same time fight off the far superior fighting force of that the Krasian’s?

Character development continues with Leesha, Rojer and Arlen still struggling with their love triangle. Arlen is seemingly slipping deeper and deeper into his role of the Painted Man and he himself quite openly says that Arlen is dead. As his powers develop, so too do his similarities to demons remember in The Painted Man when The Core called out to him? It is something that his friends are concerned about and Arlen seems to be ignoring. But having rejected his identity of Arlen and his identity of the Deliverer what exactly is he? Is he the best person to be leading people who consider him he Deliverer?

Hopefully you can see how much development you have to look forward to here. It is certainly a slap in the face for all those who said that there was not enough detail in the first book. This is a story of how two men who came from similarly insignificant background both ended up leading armies. Both want to destroy the Corelings, but both have very, very different ideas about how this should be done – both also consider that the other’s ideas are wrong.

In addition to all this, we meet even more characters who further develop the story and catch up with some older ones too. If you enjoyed The Painted Man then this book takes everything that it was and expands upon it further. For those who enjoyed The Painted Man but wanted a bit more from the story than the fast paced start to finish journey that Brett took you on last time – this book will oblige.

Upon reaching the end of this book, my biggest emotion was sadness. Sadness because I know that the next book is not out until 2012. I have grown to love these characters and I NEED to know what happens next. I cannot wait over a year. The good news is though that Brett loves his world and constantly gives us deleted scenes, one-shots and short stories. The Great Bazaar was the first example but his new novella, Brayan’s Gold, is due out in January too.

So now that I have finished this book I am kind of torn what to do next. On the one hand, I have considered kidnapping Peter V. Brett putting him in a room and putting his terms of release as: ‘writing The Daylight Wars, the third book in the series, within a month’. However, it seems that it is something frowned upon by most country’s governments so I had to drop that idea. On the other hand, I trust Brett now. The first book was not just a one off amazing achievement. He has proved to me that he is a talented, talented man with the ability to create a world, expand upon it, throw in some excellent twists and really develop the characters. This hand has me excited by Brett’s own words: “The Painted Man was a sleek 158,000 words. The Demon Spear was a heftier 240,000. The Daylight War will choke a blue whale.”

So, to conclude it all for you. The Desert Spear is just as special as the first book. This is a talented writer, who simply makes fantasy cool. Everything you could possibly want from a book is here: action, adventure, love, betrayal, loveable characters, characters you despise, beautiful environments – it’s all here. If you haven’t read The Painted Man or The Desert Spear yet you really are missing out and I can tell you now that until you do so, you have not experienced fantasy at its finest. Just be warned that reading Brett’s work raises the bar for other books you read and it will take you a long, long time to find something anywhere near as engaging.


By Overlord

is a Martial Artist, Reader, Student, Boston Terrier owner, Social Media Adviser (to UK Gov/Parliament) and the founder of Fantasy-Faction.com. It's a varied, hectic life, but it's filled with books and Facebook and Twitter and Kicking stuff - so he'd not have it any other way.

7 thoughts on “The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett”
  1. AWESOME REVIEW FF. Peter Brett is one of my favourites too 🙂

    I want to ask what you thought of ‘XXXXXXXXXXXXXX’ but I better not as it is a BIG spoiler. Chat on forums instead!

  2. I really enjoyed the Jardir bits, but felt all the scenes with the characters from the first book were really (depressingly) bad. Brett’s portrayal of women also went from “mediocre” to “awful” – I’m not sure I’ve ever read the word “womb” this many times in a single volume.

    Brett’s certainly a more-ish author, and I’ll definitely stick around for volume 3 (or 4, or 5…), but after The Painted Man, I wanted so much more…

  3. Sorry to hear that Kev =(

    I too really did think it developed on everything. It was certainly different to the first book though so I can see why if you loved the first and were expecting the exact same style for the second book you’d be disappointed – but I think most people would surely be thrilled with Desert Spear 🙂

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