Warning: contains spoilers for previous books in series
OMG! Mr. Brett how could you leave us with an ending like that?! Argh! A whole year I’ve got to wait to find out what happens too, a whole year! I can’t take it! BUT….. Despite the truly evil cliffhanger (and you all know just how much I hate them, if you don’t then read here), the fact Renna drove me round the twist, clearly Arlen and Leesha are incapable of making any decent decisions in their love lives and the characters do far too much spitting for my liking, I’m still giving this book a MASSIVE five stars. Quite simply because Brett is an amazing storyteller. This series is what epic fantasy is all about. It’s phenomenal. There were passages where I literally found myself with goosebumps on my arms.
Ok, so let’s rewind. The Daylight War is book three in Brett’s Demon Cycle series set in a world where at night, demons rise from the core and kill and eat people. Their only protection is wards which people paint on their homes and pray they don’t fail. Legend decrees that one day there will come ‘The Deliverer’ a man who will help humans fight and defeat the demons.
By book three we have two contenders for the title of Deliverer, the humble Arlen Bales, and Ahmann Jardir, ruler of the Krasians. By now, mortal enemies after Jardir’s brutal betrayal of Arlen in The Painted Man. The stories are as much about the characters surrounding Arlen and Jardir as they are about Arlen and Jardir themselves and the journey’s each of them make.
As we saw in The Desert Spear, Brett takes characters you thought you hated and cleverly sets about changing your mind. The first part of the story is told from Inevera, Jardir’s ruthless and manipulative first wife’s point of view. She’s like a Middle Eastern Lady Macbeth. I was never a fan, but the telling of her childhood and her journey to become the woman she is now was intriguing, painful and cleverly woven. I saw Inevera in a totally different light. I might not like her, but I found myself begin to empathise with her and respect her. This is part of Brett’s talent, he makes you engage with the villains until you’re not really sure if they’re villains at all.
Then, as the lives of the different characters begin to overlap more and more, we have an interesting development for violinist and jaungler Rojer. Inevitably we see more of his musical talent, but most importantly there is a very surprising romantic development for him. I thought it was honestly going to be disaster, but it ended up being funny, romantic and one of my favourite parts of the book. The ins and outs of the relationship was quite humorous, fascinating and tender.
The main focus of the story is preparing for the new moon and the epic battle we all know is coming. We watch as the characters prepare for the rise of the mind demons, demons who can only walk the earth for three days a month when the moon is at its darkest. Terribly powerful and clever demons who are determined to crush the resistance that Arlen and Jardir have started. The systematic countdown in the narrative until these epic battles adds drama and tension to the narrative.
When the fight scenes do inevitably arrive they are chilling and compelling. I found the scenes in The Hollow with Arlen much more sinister than with Jardir. But both were great. For the Hollow scenes, they literally had me on the edge of my seat and visually I could see every moment clearly, the fear of the Hollowers is palpable with the unrolling horror. It had a cinematic quality to it.
As I inferred in my first paragraph, I did have some issues with this book and first and foremost this has to be with Renna. Good God that woman is annoying, what on earth does Arlen see in her? She is stroppy, undisciplined, rude and spoilt. I spent most of the scenes hoping she would find herself killed by the demons she liked killing a little too much. And if I never hear her saying I love you Arlen Bales again it would be too soon. Plus who refers to their partner with their surname like that? I do hope she reaches a painful demise.
Then there is Leesha. That woman has no taste in men whatsoever. Goodness me she went from one car crash to another. As in The Desert Spear I found myself completely frustrated with her choices and some of them seemed so impulsive and not like the careful and strategic thinker she is in normal day to day life. At the same time my heart did ache for her and she is far from naive about the position she’s in, I also found the scenes when she realises Arlen and Renna are betrothed genuinely sad.
Despite me being frustrated with these characters and their choices, oh and the spitting, did I mention the spitting? Ugh, gross habit, which all of these characters seemed to do a lot more regularly to show their displeasure or insult another. Yuk! Anyway, despite these irritations, I could still appreciate that just because the characters weren’t behaving the way I wanted them to, that this was still great writing. Layers and layers of it cleverly woven together as Arlen and Jardir’s stories and battles become unravelled piece by piece. As a reader I could appreciate that I might not like the way the story was going and the choices the characters made on occasion, but I also understood it was going that way for a reason.
Of course, there is the scene we have all desperately been waiting for. That moment when Arlen and Jardir finally meet once more. When Jardir realises that Arlen is still alive and the ultimate battle of who is the true Deliverer really begins. If you want to know, I’m afraid you’re going to have to read it yourself ;-).
I could write so much in this review, there are characters I haven’t even got around to mentioning – Abben, the Dama’tings, the Hollowers, the relationships between all of the characters are richly portrayed and three dimensional. Quite frankly, this book is fantastic.
I will add a small footnote to this review as this was an audiobook, that The Daylight War has a new narrator, he was good, but not quite as good as Peter Joyce, I’m not sure why they changed him?
A truly superb book that fantasy fans everywhere should read. I have seen Brett compared to George R. R. Martin, I haven’t read the Game of Thrones books, so I can’t comment, although the TV show is awesome. What I do know is that this book gave me genuine goosebumps, his character portrayals are excellent, his plotting immensely clever and battle scenes epic. I did debate marking the book down from 5 stars because there were a few irritations, and of course that hideous cliffhanger. But how can you markdown goosebumps?
Rating: 5 Stars
The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett
(Demon Cycle #3)
Harper Collins (February 2013)
Audiobook: 26 hours & 46 mins
Narrator: Pete Bradbury