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Interesting ideas, poorly executed.
on 8 February 2014
The book I finished/somewhat struggled through was "The Painted Man", although it is also published under the titled "The Warded Man", which I think is much more suitable for it with all the wards etc.
Anyway, I am not a big fantasy follower, but "The Painted Man" was chosen as a next read for our book club and I happily obliged. I quickly became disappointed (although I am not as harsh as some of my fellow book club members, who gave this book one star). My complaints, which a lot of other reviewers seem to agree with:
- Peter V. Brett's writing is very amateurish, often the book reads like a screenplay, a few words on the setting and then goes the dialogue. Brett, it seems, can never "show", but he tells, sorry, "talks" a lot. Oftentimes, the dialogues are repetitive and tiresome. The editors did a poor job (just as an example, p. 303: "Arrick looked at Rojer, his face a mask of irritation as the crowd began chanting 'Halfgrip! Halfgrip!' Arrick looked to Rojer, his face a mask of irritation." One too many masks of irritation, don't you think? The book is full of such mistakes and repetitions, which could have been easily edited.
- The vast majority of characters are very poorly drawn. There is a skeleton of three main characters, Alren, Leesha and young Rojer, but Arlen gets the majority of Brett's attention (understandably, since he is the core hero in the narrative). Whilst Leesha is given a fair number of pages, Rojer barely appears in a few chapters prior to his meeting with Arlen, to tell you the truth I felt that Rojer's place in the narrative is somewhat redundant.
- The story is quite laboured, especially the beginning - the first 10% or so of the book (which is around 600 pages) nothing seemed to happen. I understand that Brett had to set up the premise and explain to his readers the workings of the universe he created, but it just felt tiresome. Numerous characters (all spitting, swearing and obsessed on sex) are introduced throughout the book only to never appear again. And the whole sex craze - the men populating the world of "The Painted Man" have their brains between their legs, it seems, and most of the conversations are about sex, having sex or fathering children. Although when it comes to the real deal (describing the one and only sex scene in the book), Brett fails miserably as his heroine "arches her back in pleasure". Cringe! It seems Brett is busying himself with all this sex, because the central fight of the book, the climax, is just about a chapter long. Now, let the men populating the world Brett created go back to talk about sex.
DESPITE ALL OF THE ABOVE, the book was a page-turner and I am contemplating starting the second book in the series, but I just could not overlook the poor style of writing. It is Peter V. Brett's debut novel and here's hoping he became better (or were assigned better editors, at least!). I liked the three different [main] characters and their coming of age stories, like a preset for further adventures to come. I liked the diversity in plot, the various storylines, the forming of their friendships. But I just cannot give the book more than 3 stars.