Tag Archives: demon

the great bazaar & brayan’s gold

The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold (Demon Cycle #1.5 & 1.6) by Peter V Brett

From Goodreads:

From the dangerous world of the Demon Cycle comes the early adventures of Arlen, Peter V. Brett’s quintessential fantasy hero. These exciting origin tales follow Arlen as he learns to navigate a world where the elemental forces of evil conjure themselves from the earth each night.

Humanity has barely survived a demonic onslaught by using magical wards that protect their cities and homes. Only a handful of mercenaries and explorers risk traveling after the sun sets. Arlen, seeking adventure and fortune, is barely protected by the warded armor upon which he has inscribed intricate defensive runes. From a journey ferrying a wagonload of dynamite to a mountain stronghold, to a dangerous mission to recover desert treasures, Arlen faces friends and enemies with a strong arm and a cunning wit.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Two short stories set between the first and second books of the series. This is the first of three novellas published on a similar theme.

The first story is of Arlen on one of his early Messenger trips as an apprentice and is completely new to the overall series. The second details the interaction between Arlen and Abban after he has become Par’Chin to the Krasians. It explains how he received the map to the ancient city of Anoch Sun. This is referred to in the main series but never explained fully.

I really enjoyed these. They give a chance to return to the Demon Cycle Universe without rehashing the story and also add in details that enrich the main story. Highly recommended for anyone that has finished the main series or even part way through.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

the core

The Core (Demon Cycle #5) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Then two heroes arose—men as close as brothers, yet divided by bitter betrayal. Arlen Bales became known as the Warded Man, tattooed head to toe with powerful magic symbols that enable him to fight demons in hand-to-hand combat—and emerge victorious. Jardir, armed with magically warded weapons, called himself the Deliverer, a figure prophesied to unite humanity and lead them to triumph in Sharak Ka—the final war against demonkind.

But in their efforts to bring the war to the demons, Arlen and Jardir have set something in motion that may prove the end of everything they hold dear—a Swarm. Now the war is at hand and humanity cannot hope to win it unless Arlen and Jardir, with the help of Arlen’s wife, Renna, can bend a captured demon prince to their will and force the devious creature to lead them to the Core, where the Mother of Demons breeds an inexhaustible army.

Trusting their closest confidantes, Leesha, Inevera, Ragen and Elissa, to rally the fractious people of the Free Cities and lead them against the Swarm, Arlen, Renna, and Jardir set out on a desperate quest into the darkest depths of evil—from which none of them expects to return alive.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A truly epic end to this series. It is a jam-packed story that took a long time to read. There’s an amazing amount of detail that takes focus and concentration to keep a track of. It’s definitely not one for a skim read.

For a change from many season finales this is actually an end. There are additional novellas that run around this main series and there is a new cycle in development but this book brings all the main storylines to a very satisfying close.

In line with the first four books there are a lot of influences visible in this story. The climactic battle between Arlen, Jardir, Renna and the Demon Queen is like a cross between “Alien” and Stephen King’s “It” while Hasik’s Eunuch Tribe and imprisonment of Abban feels like something from “Apocalypse Now”.

The multitude of characters and storylines are what makes this book so long and, at times, difficult to follow. Brett seems determined to bring back virtually every character and tie off their story. It does give a satisfying feeling of conclusion though.

The only storyline I had an issue with was the capture and imprisonment of Alagai Ka. I found this whole interaction very drawn out and forced. His involvement in the story felt forced and unnecessary. I can’t help but feeling that it would have been better to kill him off and absorb his memories and knowledge the way it was hinted with Renna and then surprisingly abandoned.

Overall this was a great series of books. I give it four stars across all five books and would definitely recommend it. I’ll definitely be taking a look at the other books written around the main series and look forward to reading the new cycle when it’s released.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

the skull throne

The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle #4) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

The Skull Throne of Krasia stands empty.

Built from the skulls of fallen generals and demon princes, it is a seat of honor and ancient, powerful magic, keeping the demon corelings at bay. From atop the throne, Ahmann Jardir was meant to conquer the known world, forging its isolated peoples into a unified army to rise up and end the demon war once and for all.

But Arlen Bales, the Warded Man, stood against this course, challenging Jardir to a duel he could not in honor refuse. Rather than risk defeat, Arlen cast them both from a precipice, leaving the world without a savior, and opening a struggle for succession that threatens to tear the Free Cities of Thesa apart.

In the south, Inevera, Jardir’s first wife, must find a way to keep their sons from killing each other and plunging their people into civil war as they strive for glory enough to make a claim on the throne.

In the north, Leesha Paper and Rojer Inn struggle to forge an alliance between the duchies of Angiers and Miln against the Krasians before it is too late.

Caught in the crossfire is the duchy of Lakton–rich and unprotected, ripe for conquest.

All the while, the corelings have been growing stronger, and without Arlen and Jardir there may be none strong enough to stop them. Only Renna Bales may know more about the fate of the missing men, but she, too, has disappeared…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

For me this was the least enjoyable of the series so far. I found it really difficult to engage with the story, possibly as there isn’t much of a story for the majority of the book. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of scene setting and politics but I wanted more battles and active politics. I didn’t enjoy the discussions between Arlen and Jardir and found the majority of the early Inevera story to be drawn out and boring. Leesha has become unrecognisable from the strong female character of the first book (until near the end) and Rojer’s story is very badly handled.

⚠️⚠️SPOILER ALERT⚠⚠️

It seems though that the author also got bored as he turned the whole story upside down in the final third and shook out all the crap he no longer needed. There are deaths aplenty, wiping out quite a few major and minor characters and decimating the lives of those that are left. It’s hard to see how the Hollow/Krasian alliance will survive the deaths of Rojer and Thamos with nothing to hold the loyalty of Rojer’s wives now that he is gone.

⚠⚠️END SPOILER⚠️⚠️

I also enjoyed the introduction of Briar as a new and interesting character. I would like to see more of him but I have a feeling he had a plot line to help with and that his usefulness has come to an end. Likewise it was great to see Ashia developed further, filling in her back story and giving further insights into the Krasian way of life, brutal as it is.

This is very obviously a setup book for the series finale. I hope it lives up to its potential and is more like 1-3 and I really hope it’s not like this one.

the daylight war

The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead him to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all–those lurking in the human heart.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took me a while to get into this book but I think that may have been due to the amount of reading I’ve been doing during lockdown and how quickly I’ve been shifting between books making it difficult to switch storylines and characters.

Once I did make the necessary mental shift this book was excellent. Similar to the second book it looks at the story from both the Krasian and Thesan sides with a detailed look at Inevera’s back story this time. The story also switches between the two sides much more often than the second book which makes it much more readable and far more enjoyable. It also gives the pace of the book an extra shot of urgency.

Apart from Inevera’s story the other major storyline is the huge battle at “Waning”. It’s mainly told from the Hollow’s perspective and the action is expertly described with great detail. It’s a very complex section of the book but the writing style prevents confusion making it exciting and tense.

When I started this series I thought it was a trilogy and I was well into this book before I realised the story is told over 5 books. I couldn’t see how the story was to be drawn to a climax and was relieved that it wasn’t.

There was quite a sudden shift close to the end of this book. It should be jarring but it’s very smart and leaves the reader looking for more. Reminded me of the old black and white Saturday morning shows like “Zorro and “The Lone Ranger” that often finished with a classic cliffhanger.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

the desert spear

The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle #2) by Peter V Brett

From Goodreads:

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power.

Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim.

But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure.

Once, the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s a really good story with engaging and strong characters with flaws and strengths and in the main the writing is engaging and draws you along. However, the structure of the story almost broke the book and some of the subject matter is difficult to read and to justify.

The first book is written from the point of view of the Northern characters Arlene, Rojer and Leesha but the majority of the first half of this book focuses on Jardir, the leader of the desert tribes and self-declared “Deliverer“. He was an important element of Arlen’s development into “The Painted Man” but a relatively minor character. Here he is given centre stage and becomes one of the central characters. The author also does this later in the book with Renna from Arlen’s childhood in Tibbett’s Brook. Although she isn’t as central as Jardir I feel she will take on a much bigger role in the third book.

Jardir’s story goes all the way back to his childhood and shows his training as a warrior and his rise to supremacy. The depiction of this brutal, male dominated and extremist society is an intriguing blend of a medieval Arabic and Eastern society with a religion that sounds very like a form of extremist Islam. The warrior caste is the pinnacle of society with the religious leaders a close second. Everyone else is treated with complete disdain and especially the female population which are subject to regular abuse and rape and only valued for their ability to produce new warriors.

At the very beginning I thought I’d started reading the wrong book but once I realised what was happening I really got into this storyline and really enjoyed the depiction of the desert society and Jardir’s rise to power. It all sounded very familiar but completely new how the author put it all together. I also really enjoyed how the author re-told the relationship between Arlen and Jardir from the new point of view and especially how Jardir struggles to live with his decision to betray “the Par’chin“.

Eventually the Northern and desert storylines meet and this is where I struggled. The sudden shift from one to the other was disconcerting and clumsy and it runs the risk of turning readers away.

However, once you get into the new story (which is the old story!) it soon picks up pace and draws you back in. Having watched Arlen’s character break down and reform as “The Painted Man” in the first book we now see him regain a lot of his humanity as he revisits his painful past and comes to terms with many traumatic events in his life.

Leesha is back and as suggested in the first book, has become a strong leader for the Herb Gatherers and the renamed Deliverer’s Hollow. I really like her as a character but the author seems to struggle with her and makes a real hash of her relationship with Jardir. It sits badly with her depiction so far and seems to depend on her implausible difficulties finding a suitable lover.

My biggest struggle with this book is the author’s frequent use of rape as a character development tool. All of the main characters, bar Rojer, have experienced some form of rape by the end of this book. Depictions of male and female rape, incest and widespread sexual abuse are difficult story lines and while the characters needed trauma in their lives I feel that the author could have used a different method to do this.

Overall this is a really good book and despite some flaws follows well from the first instalment and sets the story really well for the third.

it: chapter two

From IMDb:

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The sequel and conclusion to IT which is itself a reboot of the original TV miniseries both based on Stephen King’s novel. This novel is one of King’s best and it’s good to see it adapted so well into film.

The films are split along the time lines of the original story with Part 1 dealing with the main characters and their battle with Pennywise as kids and Part 2 dealing with them as adults and set 27 years after the first.

It’s a long time since I read the book but the films seem to stick pretty much to the book although the films are set approx 30 years ahead. This doesn’t interfere with the story at all and the only odd result is Bill’s childhood bike which doesn’t seem to come from the 80s.

IT: Chapter 1 is a brilliant film and one of the first to properly scare me in a long time. Chapter 2 is very good but doesn’t meet the tension and horror of the first. This is mainly due to how the story has changed and the fact that it’s adults now rather than kids which added an extra element to Chapter 1.

The special effects are really good, especially Pennywise, his many different forms and his transformation from one to the other. Pennywise is a fantastic character and the producers have managed to recreate him amazingly accurately to the book. The special effects really enhance the fright factor but hats off to Bill Skarsgård who brings him to such frightening life.

Overall a very good film and a satisfying close to an excellent adaptation of a fantastic Stephen King story.

the painted man

The Painted Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V Brett

From Goodreads:

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is my second time to read this book. The first was a couple of years ago but for some reason I didn’t go on to read the rest of the series. I don’t understand why as this is an excellent book and the best fantasy story I’ve read for quite a while.

There is a solid core of well defined main characters aided by interesting minor characters. Together they are used in a really good way to create the back story of the main characters and bring them together.

It’s a far from predictable story without being too shocking, just the right blend to keep the story believable but still interesting.

Looking forward now to reading the rest of the series.

a discovery of witches

All Souls Trilogy #1 by Deborah Harkness

From Goodreads:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

My Rating: 🌟🌟

Came across this author while browsing around Easons looking for inspiration for some new Science Fiction or Fantasy authors to read. The story looked sufficiently interesting to add to my list but I really wish I hadn’t bothered!

It’s a sloppy romantic novel with poor plot design and character creation, trying to be a fantasy novel with a gothic twist. I can only imagine that the author is a Twilight fan or is trying to cash in on the vampire genre.

There are a few good scenes scattered through the book that did give me hope that it would improve but barely enough to keep me there to the end and definitely not enough to make me want to read another one.

Disappointing as I think the author had a good and reasonably original idea, just very poorly executed.