Saturday, December 29, 2012

REVIEW: The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

If you are like me, you have been been awaiting the release of The Daylight War for the last two and a half years and have been contemplating ringing in sick to work when you finally get your hands on a copy. Luckily for me my reception day job pretty much means I stand around and read for eight hours a day, so no 'gastro' or 'dead relative' excuses necessary!

For those who did read The Desert Spear in early 2010, the first thing I would recommend is a reread, or at least a quick skim, which is what I did. The first speed bump I found was that I couldn't remember the specifics of any of the Krasian terms (like the difference between dal'Sharum, kai'Sharum and kha'Sharum). Never fear! The Daylight War comes with a nifty glossary at the back, giving you succinct definitions for all the terminology, plus the extensive range of relatives to boot. Unfortunately for me I didn't discover this until I finished the book, but at least now I can pass on the advice.

A large chunk of the beginning of The Daylight War is devoted to the back story of Inevera (Damajah, and Jardir's wife), much like Jardir's in book two. I know many readers became bogged down in the large amount of time spent on Jardir's life and the ins and outs of The Desert Spear, and unfortunately I think you guys are in for much of the same. Personally I love every'ting (badoom-ch!) Krasian and could have happily read about Jardir for the entire book. While large parts of Inevera's story are interesting and incredibly insightful into the ways of the dama'ting, it can get a little repetitive, especially when some scenes reoccur word for word from The Desert Spear.

I felt that Arlen began to change significantly in this book, and perhaps not for the better. Deciding to shed his mysterious ways in an effort to shake this darn title of 'Deliverer' the commoners have labelled him with, he quickly goes from dark and mysterious hooded man to straw-chewing hillbilly faster than you can say 'apple pie'. Arlen and Renna were always a bit rural from memory, but Brett really lays it on thick with more abbreviated words than you can shake a stick at. 

At the same time however, Arlen (and Jardir) develop some cool new super powers, becoming even more mysterious and Deliverer-like. Pro: they're super awesome. Con: They kinda just seem to come out of nowhere, like Brett only just now thought them up but pretends they've actually been there for a while and the only reason we don't know is because no one thought to bring them up. It does also get a smidge deus ex machina, and the narrative itself begins to rely on these new powers to reveal key details. Brett saves himself a little by making the enemies even stronger, preventing Arlen from simply cleaning up the corelings like last night's dishes.

Leesha is interesting yet annoying at the same time. While she's a strong character and looked to as a leader, she remains indecisive and more than a little lost especially when it comes to her love-life, mooning over one guy, while missing another and sleeping with a third ... and fourth. I couldn't tell if she had the characteristic definition of a wad of gum, or whether she was actually incredibly complex with some really meaty flaws.
We learn quite a lot more about the core and the mind demons from the end of The Desert Spear, which strangely turned the whole conflict between humans and demons from a one sided battle of humans vs nature, to a fully-fledged two sided war between two sentient races. 

Brett's prose and flow remains virtually flawless, providing for a smooth read during which you don't feel guilty for skipping two meals so you can lay on the couch and keep reading. Heck, I ignored so many people coming into work because let's face it, what's more important here?

In the grand scheme of things I don't think enough actually happened in this book, especially given the wait for the next installment we will most likely have to endure. The majority of it was tied up with back story and fleshing out other characters, which while definitely a great experience for all involved, meant the overall story didn't progress as far as I would have like it to. 

I feel that there is not a lot of cohesion between the two main story arcs (Jardir/Inevera and the Krasians vs Arlen/Renna/Leesha and the Hollowers) but I think it's simply because they are so vastly different, predominantly due to the culture and beliefs of the respective people. At times I wished the book would devote itself to one or the other, because jumping between the two really cut some of the build up and reader investment potential. 

And now at the end, because I haven't actually said it, I really, really loved this book (and the series). I haven't read any other fantasy based on Middle-Eastern culture (other than the dismal failure that was Throne of the Crescent Moon) and the methodical and meticulous nature of their hierarchical system ticks all the right boxes for my personality type. The world that Brett has created is rich with detail and innovation and I am itching with anticipation to find out how humans will fare against their enemies from the core!

And best/worst of all, I have to tell you that this one ends in a SERIOUS cliffhanger - you know the ones, where you gasp and then turn the page expecting to see one more chapter (and instead see a glossary of Krasian terms) and scream 'NOOOOOOOO!'. Yeah, it's one of those.

A huge thanks to Random House for sparing me the excruciating wait and sending me an eARC!

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