WARNING! THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T READ THE WARDED MAN! I ENJOYED BOTH BOOKS, SO READ THEM BEFORE I GIVE ANYTHING AWAY!
Things have changed since the events of The Warded Man. Arlen goes about with Rojer and Leesha, giving the people they encounter methods to combat the demons that rise from the earth after night falls. He is rumored by many to be the Deliverer, the one who will lead humanity in a triumphant conquest over the demons.
Jardir now wields the Spear of Kaji, which he took from Arlen not long ago, leading his people with authority to fight demons in alagai'sharak. He proclaims himself to be Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer, the one who will unite humanity under his rule and lead them to destroy the demons in glory-filled combat.
The two most powerful and influential figures in the world are destined to collide, for there can only be one Deliverer. But, as tensions swell aboveground, below lurks a new kind of demon, one whose might is legendary.
Or something like that.
The Desert Spear rather controversially follows The Warded Man. Why controversial? Because Peter V. Brett's debut novel was fantastic, and it left me salivating for more. So I had to read the sequel, but I was afraid of the disappointment sequels usually bring. Let's get this out of the way: Is it as good as the first book? No. Is it still good? Heck yeah.
For about the first third of The Desert Spear Arlen is absent. So are Leesha and Rojer. In fact, the first 200 pages of this sizeable novel are devoted to building up the character of Jardir. Which I have to admit I wasn't exactly looking forward to, since he was a thoroughly unlikeable character in The Warded Man. But Brett makes it work. In fact, the first third is perhaps the best written part of the entire book, and better written than its predecessor. Brett made a bold move in how he started The Desert Spear, but thanks to his bulging, steroid-enhanced storytelling muscles, it made me seriously reevaluate my opinion of him.
In fact, this is probably the novel's strongest point: It fleshes out the characters to an extent where you fully understand the consequences of any interactions they have. Arlen is given an interesting scenario when he must face up to his past, and I enjoyed the growth is provided for his character. Renna, only briefly in The Warded Man, takes on a whole new dimension in this one. The viewpoint count jumps from three to-- I believe-- eight.
Unfortunately, this does have a side effect in that the pace is noticeably slower than its predecessor. The threads this time around are more numerous, and the story takes time to tell. And yet, here's the thing: the characters are interesting enough and the writing is good enough that The Desert Spear is a treat to read. The world, especially Krasia, is fleshed out nicely, which gave me moments of great laughter at the awkwardness of eventual culture clashes.
I have to say, Peter V. Brett set out to write a different book than The Warded Man, and he did so with talent and spirit, providing a nice counterpoint to a strong series starter. While the pace lags in comparison to its predecessor, The Desert Spear is more than worth a read. Seriously, read this series, if you haven't already. You'll thank me later.
My rating: 9/10
Coming Soon: That's a secret.