I am reviewing these novellas written by Peter V Brett for Netgalley. They are being reprinted by Tachyon pub – San Francisco. I was little confused that this was classed an uncorrected proof as I did in fact read these novellas a couple of years ago when released in the UK by HarperCollins, I wont lie I do prefer the HC cover with the gold embossed looking writing on the cover, but none the less this is still a tough looking cover with a Russell Crowe type Gladiator guy for books about a guy who is pretty um tough.
This copy does however have a gem at the end in the way of Brett’s first ever Arlen story written for Homework for a fantasy writing course
As I mentioned I did read this a couple of years ago actually before I read any of the demon cycle. Which I am now up to date to book 4 ‘The Skull Throne.’ I remember thinking back then how much I enjoyed these novellas as stand alones but had way too much to read, to find it in anyway possible to catch up with these beasts.
Of course along the way I gave into this devoured the Demon Cycle (which I have collected, beautifully signed by the man himself) one book after another which made this reread seem altogether quite different, it was like meeting an old friend. Arlen as an apprentice messenger, with unmarked skin.
These novellas start with a little from Brett telling us why he wrote these novellas being encouraged by a friend to not give up the chance of exploring these myth like creatures. There are lots of stories from the jongleurs & apparent sightings.
So we meet Arlen some I know will be familiar with this man others will not. He is a man raised in Tibbets Brook in a world where the sun goes down creatures come out of the core & hunt anything they can find. Everyone must get back to their warded homes before this happens as the wards will protect the demons from entering, although once they get the scent they will not give up on coming back until they find a hole in the ward net.
Wards are symbols that are painted onto ward posts that interlink to protect a certain area. There are wards for wood demons, sand demons, fire demons and wind demons just to mention a few. Arlen watched his mother die whilst his father Jeph was to craven to fight for his mother, Arlen was determined to help but was held back, ever since that day Arlen is on a revenge mission to make the people fight back. His fathers cowardly voice in his head often gives Arlen drive & motivation.
In Brian’s Gold (Sorry Brayan) Arlen is an apprentice messenger, someone who travels from town to town delivering items. So under normal circumstances this is a fairly simple job when there are not demons hunting you in numbers everytime the sun goes down. So messengers will be required to make it to situated wardposts between locations. When we meet Arlen in this novella he is a skilled warder & will often choose to fight a demon than turn his back when his life is in danger.
Arlen & Curk (Arlen’s superior – please don’t tell him I said that) are being sent on a particularly dangerous mission to deliver Thundersticks –
(no not Thundercats, similar but sticks)
- to Brian. Curk clearly doesn’t have the stones for this as we will later find out, where as Arlen this is more exciting than a trip to Disneyland. One night in and we are introduced to this cracking entrance of demons.
Mist seeped from invisible pores in the ground, reeking and foul, slowly coalescing into harsh demonic form. There were no flame demons in the cold mountain heights, but wind demons materialized in plenty, as did a few squat rock demons – no bigger than a large man, but weighing thrice as much, all of it corded muscle under thick slate armour. their wide snouts held hundreds of teeth, bunched close like nails in a box. Wood demons stalked the night as well, taller than the rock demons at ten feet, but thinner, with barklike armor and branchlike arms.
Arlen is unmoved by their entrance behind his ward net, even in this unfamilar territory but watches with intrigue, studying them, noting anything of importance for future meetings. As expected Arlen’s nemesis ‘one arm’ eventually makes his appearance, a rock demon that Arlen had earlier injured.
One arm follows Arlen wherever they go, like the rock demon must seek revenge on Arlen either that Arlen’s mum resurrected as a rock demon and just wants a hug?
Corelings tend to get this attraction, this bunny boiling obsession its like the old saying I guess ‘treat em mean, keep em keen’
Corelings might eat what they kill, but I think it’s the kill itself that feeds them, human kills most of all. If they know you’re here, they’ll come and test the wards every night, even if it takes a hundred years for one to fail.
Arlen continues his journey, alone now after Curk got scared and meets up with Derek who watches a station on the mountain for Brian
He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy! Now, piss off!
(Sorry Brayan, Brian, Life of Brian, cant help myself)
Derek says he has encountered snow demons, or thinks he has but was able to give Arlen the ward just in case there is such a thing.
He was surprised to see that the basic ward of forbidding for snow demons was an alteration of the water demon ward – lines flowing out to make the ward look almost like a snowflake. Derek continued to draw, and Arlen, a skilled Warder, quickly saw how the energy would move through the net. His hand moved of its own accord, inscribing perfect copies and notes in his journals.
I don’t want to delve too much more into the story, as you can see from just a few quotes Brett’s writing is unique, descriptive and poetic like to every detail, which is why he would rather use these novellas to describe events of gaps within his books where in his books he will skip years to keep the continuation at a speed more suited for a reader and balance out the parts of his characters within the books.
I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading the novellas and would highly recommend them to readers who love fantasy but do not fancy the longer books and especially to fans who have read the books and want to fill in some of the gaps.
I do have a review for The Great Bazaar which I will hopefully post at a later date.
Brayan’s Gold for Tachyon Publications
Kindly lent to me via NetGalley