That’s the year when The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett was published. 2009. How long ago was that, you ask? Aside from the obvious mathematical answer of seven years, personally, it was back before I even graduated high school (and I’m a one-year college grad, now). It was before I got my first tattoo. Hell, it was before I was even 18. That was a while ago, my friends.
And yet it was just last night, around 2am, that I finished The Warded Man.
How, on Earth, is it possible, that I am just discovering and reading this gem of a first-book-to-a-series? How have I never read and
creepily obsessed casually admired the works of Peter V. Brett until this moment? It’s like a significant piece of my life has been missing this entire time and no one bloody told me that it was right there, in the printed word, right in front of me, hanging out at bookshelves and chilling at the library, for the past seven years. I haven’t felt so foolish since I was the last person to play Mass Effect and realize what the big uproar was all about in regards to the ending of Mass Effect 3 (hint: a really big freakin’ deal. There were tears. Lots of them.).
Okay, now that we got my shame out of the way, we can move on to freaking out about how fantastic this book is! Of course, you already know it, because you’ve already read it and been in the know this whole time while I’ve been over here trying to figure out how to survive college and learn how to adult for the past seven years.
Okay, okay, now I’m really over it.
Let’s pretend you haven’t read it, so I can talk about it. The premise, in the roughest sense, is simple (yet that doesn’t mean this book isn’t complex and fantastic, because it very much is). The gist of it is this: demons, called corelings, rise every night and attack anyone foolish enough to still be out. The only way to protect yourself is through putting up wards and staying within those wards, otherwise, you’re going to get cored. Once upon a time, people fought against the demons, but that time is well past. Our story follows the lives of three souls dealing with the hardships of the world they are living in, helping turn the mindset of people who hide from corelings to people who fight corelings.
Sounds awesome, right?
Well, it is. The book starts out in the perspective of 11-year-old Arlen. Of course, my pretentious mind believes that the first chapter is going to be a flashback set-up. Arlen is obviously someone of eventual import to the story who is affected by these demons and we are getting a glimpse of his childhood to understand those emotions, before we fast forward to who he has become as a man. I was so pleasantly surprised when this was not the case, as chapters continued to pass with us staying in Arlen’s POV as a child and I was completely engrossed. I feel like I didn’t pause to take a breath until I got to Leesha’s first chapter, 66 pages in, and suddenly I wondered what time it was, where I was and what was happening in my life that wasn’t related to Tibbet’s Brook. Because at that moment, that’s all I cared about: Arlen, Tibbet’s Brook and becoming a Messenger.
Yet it was late and the change in POV provided a nice stopping point for the night, so I went to sleep and dreamt of corelings. I read 66 pages in that first sitting when my intention was to read a chapter to at least start the book before I passed out.
Out of all the nights following, 66 pages was the least that I read.
Quickly, my nightly reading sessions–which began around 12:30am, after I got home from work–was what I craved in the last hour that I was working. I’d get home, change clothes, brush my teeth and immediately pick back up where I left off. Three days of averaging roughly 150 pages a night and I knocked that sucker out much too soon and yet not quickly enough at the same time. I enjoyed it so much that when I picked it up to start reading last night, I actually dreaded it, because I knew I had roughly 100 pages left and I was going to finish it and I didn’t want it to be over. (Further proof of that was when I turned to the last page, consisting of a paragraph and I made a noise similar to, “Ughhhdammit,” in response to the fact that it was over.)
Why was this book so fantastic that I pretty much inhaled it and have been itching ever sense to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series? I think I can narrow it down to two main aspects (which is more helpful in a review than exclaiming, “Everythingwasfantasticgoreadthisrightnowwhyhaven’tyoureadthisdon’tbeadishonoredcow,” which is also true): the characters and the pacing.
We follow three main characters, told through their POV, over a large course of years: Arlen, Leesha and Rojer. I love all of them a different way. And damn have these three gone through some shit. I won’t give away any spoilers (as, once I realized how long ago this series started, I am now terrified I am going to stumble across something that ruins one of the books I haven’t read yet), but I will say this: one of the biggest draws of this book was how real it felt, particularly in regards to these three characters. When they were kids, I was convinced they were kids. The way they spoke, the way they thought, their logic, their dreams, their mischievousness, all of it, was so realistic. And it made me feel for them even more (Rojer’s first chapter? Be still, my aching heart!). As they matured, their believably was never put in question. It all felt natural and I loved being there to witness it all along the way.
Which brings up the next point of excellence I want to highlight: the pacing and the way it was written (I snuck another thing in there, so sue me). I mentioned how I didn’t expect to see Arlen’s childhood all the way through, I just expected that intro to be an emotional dagger to make me care about him before we skipped the part where he made a name for himself. I am so glad this wasn’t the case. I loved that we jumped around throughout childhood, adolescence and the beginnings of adulthood for all three characters. I love how the POVs overlapped and eventually intersected (and those pictures on the chapter headings; clever, clever!). I was so impressed that, no matter how many years passed between POVs or sections, I was never lost or confused. And the actual writing itself…I can’t really describe it, but it was different from what I’m used to. But different in a lovely way. I don’t know what it was, but I just loved the way it was written, as well.
I became so insanely attached to these characters. Multiple times, my heart ached because of what happened to them. Leesha I connected with the most, especially towards the end when she’s questions some things that I have questioned and continue to question currently. That was a truly powerful connection that made me want to fight for her even more. I got lost in their world and I have no desire to leave it (especially as my dreams have been infested with this place all week). I cannot believe I hadn’t discovered this series or author until now, but I am so glad that I did. It’s fantastic and if you missed the bandwagon like I did, do yourself a favor and read The Warded Man. But be prepared to sacrifice sleep and other essentials as payment.