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The Desert Spear: The Demon Cycle Book 2
Peter V. Brett
HarperVoyager, 782 pages

The Desert Spear
Peter V. Brett
Raised on a steady diet of fantasy novels, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons, Peter V. Brett has been writing fantasy stories for as long as he can remember. He received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and art history from the University at Buffalo in 1995, then worked for a decade in pharmaceutical publishing before returning to his bliss. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.

Peter V. Brett Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Painted Man

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Dominic Cilli

I'll try and make this as simple as possible. If dark fantasy is your thing and you aren't currently reading The Demon Cycle you are making an oversight of enormous proportions. This is rock solid fantasy in every respect and deserves to be read by every fantasy fan out there. The first entry in the series The Warded Man is a three tiered story featuring the main protagonists Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. It's a great start to a series and a really entertaining read, wonderfully paced and full of intrigue and action. (If you haven't read The Warded Man yet, you may want to stop here as this review contains spoilers of the novel.) In one key portion of Arlen's story in The Warded Man, Arlen visits the desert city Krasia. It is a city with a strict caste system where the warriors and priests are atop the food chain and Arlen's lust for demon blood makes him an instant hit and he befriends Krasia's leader Jadir. Later, the action in The Warded Man leads Jadir to betray Arlen to gain possession of the Spear of Kaji, an ancient warded weapon designed to slay demons. However, the real motivation for Jadir and his controlling first wife, Inevera, is that the man who possesses the spear will be seen as the "deliverer" by the masses, a sort of second coming of the messiah.

In atypical fashion, instead of continuing the story right from where it left off, Peter V. Brett backtracks in The Desert Spear. This novel begins in the time when Jardir was growing up in Karsia before he meets Arlen and the narrative tells of how he grew into power and the circumstances which led to his betrayal. In The Warded Man, Jardir's betrayal is shocking, but Peter V. Brett's focusing on the events from Jardir's perspective casts him in a much different light as we slowly begin to see the reasons that led up to this crucial portion of the story. The contrasting and changing perspective of The Desert Spear is really a breath of fresh air to the reader as Brett is creating some very complex plot threads and some very interesting characters.

The action at the start of The Desert Spear finally catches up with The Warded Man and Brett uses an overlapping chapter to push the action forward in time to the point after Jardir's betrayal. The changing perspectives certainly isn't groundbreaking, but it works really well and most importantly, these contrasting viewpoints force the reader to rethink the story and its characters plus who they see as being "good" or "evil." As the characters develop so too does the plot, world building and magic system. All the elements that make a good fantasy novel are well thought out and blended masterfully with enough twists and turns to make The Desert Spear a real page turner.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I found one of the most intriguing parts of The Demon Cycle is the parallels that Brett draws between his characters religious beliefs and their modern day counterparts. It's easy to see that Brett is using the Krasians (Islam) and The Greenlanders (Christian) to add another layer to this exquisitely written novel. Peter V. Brett tells the story from both perspectives and his writing creates several insights into the relationships of these two modern day religions, while simultaneously creating a theological system all his own. It's remarkable and it elevates The Demon Cycle from just good solid entertainment into the sublime. When you can tell a story that is this much fun while you're commenting on the most topical subject in the world today, you're on the top of your game. Do not miss this series.

Copyright © 2011 Dominic Cilli

When asked to write a third-person tag line for his reviews, Dominic Cilli farmed the work out to an actual 3rd person, his friend Neal, who in turn turned it over to a second person who then asked his third cousin to help out and this person whom Dom doesn't even know then wrote in 8th person Omniscient mode "Dom's breadth of knowledge in literature runs the gamut and is certainly not bounded by the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. One thing I can say with certainty is that of all the people I don't know who've ever recommended books to read, Dom's recommendations are the best."

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