The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published in the UK in the year 2008
This book was a surprisingly good read, full of magic, action, and demons. Having not read a book by Peter V. Brett before, I did not know what to expect. The Painted Man is full of adventure and lots of action.
The book’s main character is Arlen, who like many boys his age want to go on an adventure. The village he lives in hides behind magical wards to prevent themselves from being killed by demons in the night. Arlen is a romantic at heart who believes in all the stories about the Deliverer and the lost combat wards, capable of killing demons. Arlen has to make the difficult choice between settling down, getting married and having kids, or to leave the comfort of home to go in search of ways to fight the demons.
The Painted Man is a good read, with a story that shifts between three characters. Rojer’s story is similar to Arlen’s as they both have lost their mothers to the demons. Peter V. Brett’s fantasy world is harsh and bad things can happen to anyone, even the characters you want to survive. Although the demons appear to represent the forces of evil, Peter V. Brett has cleverly hinted that the demons are mortal creatures, who probably attacking humans for a purpose. Are the demons punishing humans for their greed and their neglect of the natural world? The answer to that question will hopefully be the latter books of the series.
I did enjoy reading the Leesha chapters because they give an insight into the experiences of the healers who have to treat the ailments of the sick and wounded. The world in this book is a post-science world where plagues are commonplace and most of the scientific knowledge is lost, apart from the trade secrets of the Herb Gatherers. The problem with traditional epic fantasy is their focus on the heroic figure. Therefore, it is a nice change to see focus given to a character with more ordinary human concerns, rather than another coming of age quest story. There is a sense that minor characters are being treated with more respect by fantasy authors today. Background characters are people too, not NPCs in games like Skyrim.
The main strength of this book is its pacing, the plot never slows down too much. The writing is imaginative and easy to read. Many tough themes are tackled in this book including death, rape, marriage, gender, and duty. My only gripe this book is that Rojer, to me, feels slightly underdeveloped as a character compared with Arlen and Leesha. However, there is a chance that the other books in the series will build on Rojer’s character more. I am a huge fan of fantasy where there is more than one character that is key to the plot. Moreover, multiple points of views allow for a more deeper story than just simply focusing on the exploits of one invincible hero.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars