The only excuse I have for not getting to this review sooner is – life. Things have been really hectic in Netta-land, but when The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett hit the shelves in April of this year you can bet my ample behind was in my favorite Borders, getting me some of that.
You may ask why a dead-broke, struggling writer hack shelled out a nice chunk of change for a hardcover book. Even if you don’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway. Because I’m worth it! After the fantastic debut of The Warded Man in March of 2009, which I also have in hardcover (signed, too, nyah nyah) there’s no way I was going to miss the release of TDS. (You can read my review of TWM here.) It is so seldom in fantasy literature I find anything that piques my interest, keeps my interest, or actually inspires anything but dead boredom. Does The Desert Spear deliver? (No pun intended.)
It does. Brett takes us deep into Krasia to get to know Jardir, a contender for the title of “Deliverer” and an ex-friend of Arlen’s, a bit better. The Krasian way of life is harsh reality in a warrior culture, and Jardir’s childhood in this culture explains a great deal. Peat’s details and characterizations bring Krasian ways into sharp focus, offering a look into a warrior-dominated culture and strict caste system, and how it shapes events and lives. I don’t want to post any spoilers here in case you haven’t read it yet (and what the hell are you waiting for??) but suffice to say although I may understand Jardir a little better, I still don’t like him and one of his decisions in the first book still irks me.
After a visit to Krasia, fascinating as it was, I was eager and very happy to meet up with Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer again, among others. It is interesting how their lives remain deeply connected, even when destiny takes them in different directions. Arlen continues to evolve, and he just gets more interesting with every sentence. Although, I will say his self-sacrificing ways can be annoying. Leesha is her capable self, but I find one particular action on her part had my jaw hitting the floor, especially with her background. No spoilers, but I felt as if one particular aspect of Krasian culture should have affected her more than it did. This is my own personal opinion, mind. I didn’t like one specific situation, but I don’t have to like it to love the story. And the story rocks.
We learn more about the corelings and we meet with old friends and acquaintances. Brett is a master at pacing, and I spent too many nights staying up way past my bedtime because I couldn’t wait to turn the page. Was The Desert Spear as good as The Warded Man?
I think that’s like comparing apples to oranges. Not only that, but I have to admit to a personal connection with The Warded Man which renders me unable to be objective about this topic. I will say The Desert Spear is different from TWM, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a fan, it may have been a bit disconcerting in places, but I like being pushed from my comfort zone.
I tried to take my time reading it, but I’m not that disciplined. It came too soon, but the end of The Desert Spear is not really the end at all, but a beginning of Sharak Ka. I almost wish I’d waited longer to pick up TDS, because that would make waiting for The Daylight War , next in the series, seem a little shorter. The upside is I can read TDS over and over until The Daylight War appears. It can’t come soon enough.