Arlen Bales and Ahmann Jardir are both hailed as the Deliverer by their people. Both seek to rid the Earth of demons, yet their approaches differ greatly. Arlen wants the people to fight for themselves, to come together for their friends and neighbours in times of need and revel in the pride of saving their loved ones. Ahmann seeks to conquer, taking men and boys away from their families to train as warriors, allowing only those who will follow his rule and his religion to live, no matter what the cost. As the countries lie in tattered ruins, fractured and fearful, only these two men can hope to unite the tribes to beat back the demon threat. Yet with powerful mind demons hunting them, how can they hope to win when they cannot even put their own differences aside. Sharak Ka is coming and the world is nowhere near ready…
‘The Daylight War’ is the third book in Peter V. Brett’s ‘The Demon Cycle’, a planned quintet of books set in a world where demons rise every night to kill humans unprotected by wards. By this point in the series, the humans have learned to fight back, rediscovering ancient fighting wards and preparing for a final battle with the demons, Sharak Ka, to cleanse the world of their evil presence.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like a story heavy on the battles, you’d be right. The action flows on every page and we move from one fight to the next with barely a pause for breath. It’s frantic, but it really works to drive the story along. We can feel the fear of the villagers, sense the pride of the warriors, almost taste the evil emanating from the demons. It’s awesome. It also isn’t unrelenting. There are enough variations in pace and action level to give the next battles real kick when you encounter them and this dynamic ensures that you never tire of the action.
The characters, from tiniest side characters who feature on just a couple of pages right through to the main characters we follow throughout the book, are superbly drawn. I feel like I know them intimately and could recognise them on sight. Inevera is the one that really shines through in this book as we learn of her past and how she became the powerful leader that guides Ahmann towards becoming the Deliverer. Arlen is probably the one who has changed the most through the books and I’m not sure I’m particularly fond of the style of speech that he’s adopted since hooking up with his former ‘promised’, Renna. The word ‘ent’ crops up a lot (instead of ‘isn’t’ or ‘I’m not’) and it can be jarring at times but this really is the most minor of complaints. I’m not sure Renna is even supposed to be likeable, although I did like the changes we saw in her as she adjusted to life with decent people in a civilised setting. They were subtle enough to be believable and added a nice touch to her development. Ahmann, Leesha and Rojer all get their moments but I think the focus has moved away from them somewhat in this book.
In terms of plot, it really is driven along by the action and the need to prepare for this final battle with the demons. There are plenty of little intrigues and schemes to keep things interesting and the first section, concentrating on Inevera’s youth, was fascinating. She had been such a powerful figure in the previous book and it was great to see how she arrived at that point from such humble beginnings. One of the best points for me, though, was the ending. It was spectacular. It was action-packed, unpredictable and thoroughly satisfying. I can’t say any more than that without giving things away but it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered an ending I enjoyed as much as this one and, boy, does it set things up for book four.
You can probably tell already but I loved this book. I was utterly entranced from beginning to end. The world, the action, the characters, they all delivered and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. It’s looking likely to be well into 2015 before book four is released but if you can’t quite wait that long to see what happens, chapter one is on Peter V. Brett’s website…
(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 639 page hardback. Price: $28.00 (US), $34.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-50382-4)