Book Review: "The Desert Spear" by Peter V. Brett

Returning to Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle series was as thrilling as it was joyful. I was excited to come back to this series for this round of my reading list and am now even more excited to review it. As ever, this is a slight spoiler warning as I will be reviewing the second book in a series. If you want to avoid spoilers, don't read past the book's summary below.

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...

The book opens not with our four heroes from the previous book but with a brand new problem we'll be seeing later in the story: a duo of freighting Coreling demons being identified by Brett as Princes. They have bulbous heads and can evidently mimic any living thing (or, evidently, any inanimate object as well). The two set off in search of prey they clearly see as a threat, one easily being identified as the steadfast and eccentrically brave Arlen (A.K.A. The Warded Man), and another target not yet known to us.

This sequel continues its eye-opening surprise of a beginning by continuing the very next chapter with an entire focus on Jardir, the man who had betrayed Arlen in the previous book. Part one of this book is Jardir's entire life leading up to meeting Arlen and finally marching North to conquer the world. From the beginning I had always been confident in Brett’s story telling and his ability to get me emotionally invested on an intense level, but what I didn’t expect was how easily he was going to make me fall in love with a character I so passionately disliked one book ago.

I love an “antagonist” I can love but Brett does more than this. Jardir is intense, flawed, passionate, a hopeful man looking to use the power he’s gained for the greatest good. This of course makes his betrayal toward Arlen all the more tragic and much more tough to swallow. I especially loved when I got to part two of the book and witnessed the redeemed Jardir encountering the rest of our cast.

Each character works off each other beautifully and the brief affair between Jardir and Leesha had me swooning. I loved this book, not expecting to have been as fascinated by its entire focus on Jardir and his influence on the world. In comparison to its predecessor, the stakes are higher, the tension is much more palpable and the Corelings are all the more terrifying in power—much more than I originally thought. Brett has me thirsting for much, much more and I can’t wait to get to the next installment of the Demon Cycle series.

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