36 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Just shy of brilliance,
This review is from: The Desert Spear (The Demon Cycle, Book 2) (Hardcover)
I have waited eagerly for this book, having read the Painted Man twice and loved every page of it. Considering that this book has been delayed... and then delayed again... was it worth the wait?
Yes. And no.
This is a big book - weighing in the equivalent of a small planet. Which is a good thing, as the world that Peter has created and its characters are utterly compelling.; who wouldn't want more? This is a page turner and no mistake - despite its size, I polished this book off in two days because I just couldn't put it down. The writing is effortless, characters and places are well described and believable. At least for the most part.
A couple of very minor spoilers coming up.
One thing that surprised me with this book was its shift in focus to Jardir and Renna. For much of the first quarter/third of the book, Jardir is the central character. Which is good - as the Krasian culture is explored in detail and we get to see how Jardir becomes the 'betrayer' at the end of the Painted Man, and also his relationship with his wives and Abban. He is a really interesting, flawed hero - one that is as compelling as Arlen in The Painted Man.
So, it comes as a surprise that - in the last half of the book - this great character we have spent so much time with is reduced to a lovesick teenager over.... Leesha?? Yes. The whole Leesha/Jardir storyline brought this book crashing down for me. It just wasn't believable. Are we really expected to believe that Jardir would risk the wrath of his warriors, the hatred of his first wife and the future of his Holy War to bed Leesha? This guy has fourteen + wives and represents an army that is murdering, raping and pillaging across Thesa. He is something that should be feared - a powerful counterpoint to Arlen. But, with leesha, he is reduced to a lovesick, cow-eyed teenager. I just didn't get that whole story thread. I'm sure it will set up events for The Daylight War, although the way it ended made me think that it wasn't really necessary in the first place.
And that last point brings me to another nagging criticism. By the end of the book - not much has happened. I was expecting things to broaden out and become more epic, moving towards what I imagined would be the epic last book when the war is taken to the Core. But having read this one, really the focus has become tighter on character (not a bad thing, admittedly) but very little has progressed on the bigger world stage. I think that is why the Leesha/Jardir relationship jars so much - I guess that was meant to be something bigger than it was.
The corelings also take a backseat in this - their fear-inducing presence diminished somewhat by the fact that everyone now seems to be able to batter them into daylight ashes (including Renna). In the first book, they were the reason for everything - the fear they invoked was the driving force for much of the narrative. In this book, things appear to have shifted to the human stage - with the corelings just a 'minor' irritant in the background. At least, that is what it felt like at times.
That sounds like a lot of criticism. It isn't. This is a masterful work - another great installment of what I know will be a fantastic saga. However, the Leesha/Jardir scenario left a very bad taste in my mouth. It pushed the boundaries of both characters a little too far - it felt forced and ill-keeping with what we know about them.
But a great read all the same - and already counting down the days to the Daylight War. I just hope that the next book really shakes things up. I guess, going on the title, the next one will be more like the book I was expecting.