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Book Review

Book Cover

The Painted Man (Hardback)


Author: Peter V. Brett
Publisher: Harper Voyager
433 pages
RRP: £25.00
ISBN: 978 0 00 821981 9
Publication Date: 08 August 2019

So, this is where it all began for Peter V. Brett and his Demon Cycle, a fantasy series which would become one of the most satisfying series of the last ten years. Such is the popularity of the series that The Painted Man (2008. Reprint 2019. 433 pages) has been re-released as a hardback with the addition of thirty black and white illustrations by Dominik Broniek...

For those of you who are not familiar with the series, Brett has created a faux medieval world plagued with Corlings, that’s demons to you and me. They only come out at night and the only defence against them are wards, painted symbols of magic, which create a barrier.

Mankind had thought that the demons had been defeated, but their return highlighted the fact that mankind have become prisoners of their own wards. With no effective attack wards, those having been lost in the midst of time, men can only draw their circles and hope to survive the night.

Not all feel this way, especially Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. Arlen is a young man who dreams of becoming a Messenger, one of those brave few who are willing to brave being out at night. They are the glue which holds civilisation together, delivering goods and letters. In the Messengers, Arlen sees the freedom he seeks, free from the wards and free from the Corlings.

Leesha suffers from an overbearing mother and a timid father. Much like Arlen, she is trapped by circumstance. In her case, it is one of possible domestic and filial servitude as the expectation is that she will take over her father’s paper making business and marry, to become a brood mare. None of this appeal to her, so when a crisis occurs she runs away from home to study as a healer.

Rojer, meanwhile discovers he has a special talent, that he can affect the Corlings, seemingly for good or ill via music.

When the story starts, all three characters are young and seemingly stuck in roles provided by others. Because of the way that the story cuts between the three main protagonists, the first few chapters may seem slow, but I would advise that the reader continue. Brett ends up perfectly balancing the amount of world building with character development, by the time the book closes you will have had a very satisfying read.

So, a great start to what became a great series.


Charles Packer

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