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

  • TITLE: The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle #3)
  • AUTHOR: Peter V. Brett
  • PUBLISHER: Harper Voyager
  • PUBLICATION DATE: 11th February 2013 (UK)
  • RATING: ★★★★★

9268487One of the most highly acclaimed series of SFF, Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle gets its third instalment with the forthcoming release of The Daylight War. After the phenomenal success of both The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, I was tentative about The Daylight War; surely it couldn’t get much better? Well, I was wrong.

The Daylight War manages to bring new angles and story arcs into the well-established world of the Demon Cycle, whilst still offering the same familiarity of character and structure to make it feel just like going home to the characters we’ve known since the very first page of the first book.

Inevitably, we delve into Inevera’s past and the formula continues, opening the book with her past and slowly bringing her story through to the present. I particularly like Inevera, so this wasn’t tiresome for me, although by now, when thinking about this set formula for the books, one does wonder just how many more childhoods we can explore in the opening chapters of following books. I think this method has just about been exhausted now and I think it might cause problems hereafter, since this formula has now been in place for three books. Changing might upset the balance and make for an unfamiliar structure that won’t immediately feel like Brett.

But, I love Inevera, so I’m perfectly fine with how the book begins. Still, it is a consideration to keep in mind and interesting to see how Brett will progress from here. Following the events of The Desert Spear, things are rapidly changing in Ala. The Krasians continue to conquer and levy soldiers into their armies. Meanwhile, Arlen, having come back to his senses and joined by Renna, to whom he is now promised, is determined to find out what is between Leesha and Jardir. Now well aware of the extent of Jardir’s power and reeling from the attack of the coreling princes, he intends to plan for all eventualities when the waning approaches and the princes rise again. With his newfound control over his magic and the difficulties he faced in the Krasian desert alone far behind him, Arlen is more focused and in control that he’s ever been.

The same cannot be said for Renna. Fiercely determined to not slow Arlen down and to keep pace with his strengthening magic, she learns secrets Arlen thought he could trust her with, and begins to forge her own path towards overcoming the demons and her own deep-rooted fear. Meanwhile, Leesha struggles with her developing feelings for the one person she is passionate about, but whom she cannot bring herself to commit to, for reasons that transcend the simple and risk complicating her life even more than her first meeting with the Warded Man and her position as a powerful Herb Gatherer have already. In Leesha’s life, nothing is simple. Still, with the memory of her dalliance fresh in mind and the consequences slowly showing through, she might find that her affections are not so closed as they used to be and that even where she least expects it, she might still find the hope of a union in which she won’t come second, or third, or…fourteenth.

On the other hand, Rojer is fast losing ground in his new and strange life. Things used to be so simple when Arrick was alive and he was a mere apprentice. Somehow, since his ability to charm the Corelings with his “fiddle-magic” came to light, more and more expectations were  heaped at his feet, his life has been turned upside down and grown far more complicated. He is a well-desired man and despite struggling to teach his fiddle-magic to other Jongleurs, even the demon of the desert, Jardir, must take notice of his power. Which is probably why Rojer is about to be made an offer he probably should refuse… but simply can’t bring himself to flat out reject… In his wildest dreams Rojer could never have imagined the turn his life is about to take.

As the war with the corelings deepens and grows ever more treacherous, with twists and turns and a web of complex demon politics that those on the surface have no hope of understanding to penetrate, those seeking to rise up and fight will need to steel themselves and sharpen their nerve. The fight of their lives is on the way… one that will make the Battle of Cutters’ Hollow look like a barn dance.

Jardir continues onwards, sweeping across the greenlands, following the footsteps of his ancestor, Kaji, his steps and actions guided by the divining dice of Inevera, who is determined to free the world of the alagai forever. Inevera herself wields great power and despite disagreements with Leesha and the fear of another Deliverer rising up in Jardir’s place, she wants nothing more than the destruction of the demons–and she will do anything to achieve it.

The supporting cast come to life like never before in this instalment: Wonda, Gared and Abban develop strongly and knit together in the background to create a backdrop that is stronger than ever. With the introduction of new characters to further flesh out Brett’s already strong world, the foundations of the series grow even stronger and the world crystallizes on a whole new level, becoming all the more real.

As far as plot progression goes, there is a lot that happens in The Daylight War and everything leads towards a very, very loaded climax that threatens to be the biggest cliff-hanger of the series. This book deepens matters across the board and things become tenser with every chapter. Unlike the previous books there isn’t as much a theme of solitary battle: Arlen and Jardir both involve their warriors more as the demons grow stronger and although there are battles, the real focus is on the tightly woven and interlaced character relationships and the choices they make. This really is a story about the characters of the world with far less focus on the greater war at hand.

This is strangely at odds with the fact that the greatest battles the characters have faced occur in this book. It is an odd balance, but it works exceedingly well. In the end, this is probably the best of the whole series.

This will be a strong contender for one of the best books of the year, even this early on.

Utterly gripping and brilliant.

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