5 out of 5 stars
After finishing Mass Effect 3, I really wanted to read some sci-fi. So I went down to my local library, and browsed the (rather pathetic) sci-fi and fantasy section. I came back with four fantasy books, and just one sci-fi. Luckily, one of the fantasy books was this one, because it was amazing. I was first drawn in by the cover – rather mysterious – and then the blurb.
The entire concept of demons (or ‘corelings’) springing up out of the earth after the sun has set – or even when it is dark enough during the day, caused by storms and the like – really interested me. The people of this fantasy world live in fear of the dark, because there is actually something out there, and to prevent demon attacks they must ward their homes, businesses, cities etc, or travellers must create ward circles in which to hide at night. But the wards can be easily disturbed – washed away by rain, covered by snow or leaves, even just a person treading on one of the wards can break the circle. Everyone lives in constant fear, and no-one has the means, or courage, to face up to the demons. That is until Arlen finds a warded spear in the ruins of an ancient city, and using murals and the spear itself begins to recreate the wards, even going to far as tattooing his entire body – hence the ‘Painted’ or ‘Warded Man’.
I have to admit when I first opened the book and read that the main protagonist was a ten-year old boy, my heart sunk a little. I often get annoyed by such young protagonists, but Arlen really surprised me. He was clever and a realist, and very, very determined. And his transformation into the Painted Man was fantastic – strengthened by past losses, and desperate to not turn into his father. In fact, all three of the protagonists were very likeable and it was interesting to follow them from their pre-teens (or earlier, in Rojer’s case), to adulthood. I like Leesha for her sense of morals and her determination to live her life as she wanted.
Often with fantasy novels, the authors understandably want to create something new, a new world, but some times it can get very complicated. The Warding system was very understandable, and I can’t wait to find out more of its back story, along with the history of the Core and corelings – which I hope will be coming up in the next two books.
I really loved the pacing of the book. Brett didn’t switch between POVs too quickly, nor too slowly. It felt like just as something big was building up for each character, the POV would switch, which definitely kept me reading to find out what happened next. The action scenes were brilliant and fast paced.
As much as I love fantasy, I haven’t found too many series that have really gripped me. The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire go without saying, but I feel this series (trilogy?) could soon join them. I will definitely be looking out for book two, and book three when it is published – apparently February 2013.