Read by Pete Bradbury
Length: 26 Hrs 51 Min
Quick Thoughts: The Daylight War is not just a wonderful edition in perhaps my favorite fantasy series, but the proof of the validity of the trust I have put in Brett as a unique storyteller. The Daylight War continues with the characters and themes we loved in the first two novels, yet also manages to take the story in a whole new direction. While the clash of cultures is brilliantly done, and the increased menace of the demonic enemy even scarier, it’s the intricate relationships that Brett has built that is the true beauty of this novel.
Throughout my life there have been many things that I have wanted to be, but I can honestly say that a protagonist in a novel is not one of them. Authors are quite rough on their heroes, at least the author’s I read. It seems all heroes must be born through tragedy, their stories uninteresting until something horrible happens to them. This seems especially so in epic fantasy. Rarely do our heroes come from nice, middle class, traditional families. They are orphans, raised by abusive parents, lied to about their true heritage, forced to watch loved ones killer or kidnapped, or homeless whelps forced to survive in the worst sections of already brutal cities. Yet, they often tend to scrap their ways up, find some level of success, and obtain some level of happiness, whether it be through love or station. Then, of course, our authors strip it all away from them. They are betrayed, their children stolen, their wives murdered and they are thrown down into the muck once again. It’s really not easy being a hero and they know it. At some point, they must realize they are the heroes of some sick and twisted mind of a Fantasy writer. They begin to avoid anything but the briefest of relationships to fulfill their base needs. They just know in order to achieve their heroic goals, they must become isolated. They believe any friends or loved one will become harmed by being associated to them, so they toss them away. This is what I expected out of The Daylight War. Our hero, The Warded Man, would remain the gruff, isolated man obsessed with his mission, and if his thoughts were to stray to the young woman who captures his heart, she would be brutally killed, or kidnapped by his enemies. Yet, for some reason, Peter V. Brett laughed at my assumptions. Laughed uproariously like a half mad bard drunk on his own art.
The Daylight War is the third novel in Peter V. Brett’s epic fantasy series about a world where demons rule the night and the scattered remnants huddle behind warded magic protecting them. Yet, a prophecy declares one day a deliverer will rise, claiming old magic to drive the demons away for good, reclaiming the night for humanity. Yet, two men arise, from different cultures, the closest of friends and the bitterest of rivals, both the scourge of demons, both claiming ancient magic. Peter Brett’s Demon Cycle is perhaps my favorite modern epic fantasy. Of course, I am not really a huge Epic Fantasy guy, so take that as you will. In fact, when I first was recommended this series, about three years ago, I had expected something closer to John Shirley’s Demons that A Song of Ice and Fire. Yet, what I got was something different. Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle is a blending of Arabian and Medieval Fantasy with Apocalyptic Americana creating one of the most unique and colorful fantasy series available today. Brett takes a unique storytelling approach with each entry. While telling the continuing story of the Final War between Humans and Demons, with each volume he expands the story of a character from the preceding book, adding depth to the overall narrative. In The Daylight War, he tells the story of Inerva, Dama’ting of the Krassian people and first wife of Ahmann Jadir, the ruler of Krasia and potential Deliverer. I loved Inerva’s story. It was beautiful and tragic, often hard to take, but revealed a lot about one of the most mysterious antagonists of the earlier novels. One of the things I love about this series, is the contrast between the worlds of the Krasians, where to poetry of the language often conflict with the brutality of the culture, and the Thesans, whose surface simplicity masks a darker undertone. Brett plays off both these cultures beautifully, blending them together more and more with each novel.
One of my major issues with multi-POV epic fantasies is that the author jumps too quickly between characters, often leaving me disconcerted. While the shifts were quicker than in The Dessert Spear, Brett still allowed each story to gain traction, and stay with it as needed, so when the shifts did come, I didn’t find myself distracted by untold questions of other characters. Yet, the true beauty of The Daylight War, and what makes it my favorite fantasy read in a long time is how Brett handles the character of Arlen, the so called Warded Man. Brett actually allows his character to grow and change, and not by becoming more socially isolated. Brett turns the character outward, creating more entanglements. Too often we see heroes try to isolate themselves, but instead Brett’s focus on the changed Arlen, allows us to see how the relationships he is building, especially with his intended Renna, makes him better suited to the task. Balance this with Brett’s tale of Inerva, Jadir’s first wife, and The Daylight War becomes less about two heroes, and more about the relationships that shape these two pivotal players. I found it refreshing, and added a lot to an already wonderful world. My only complaint is the end. While it was a brilliantly executed breathtaking finale, if Brett thinks that this will take the pressure off of the clamoring for the next novel, right now… well, he’s sorely mistaken. Even I, who is an advocate of accepting that every author needs the freedom to write at their own pace, can’t help but feel an overwhelming desire to start clamoring for the next book, right away. I will practice restraint, but Mr. Brett… you are not making it easy. The Daylight War is not just a wonderful edition in perhaps my favorite fantasy series, but the proof of the validity of the trust I have put in Brett as a unique storyteller. The Daylight War continues with the characters and themes we loved in the first two novels, yet also manages to take the story in a whole new direction. While the clash of cultures is brilliantly done, and the increased menace of the demonic enemy even scarier, it’s the intricate relationships that Brett has built that is the true beauty of this novel.
Pete Bradbury continues the work he did in the first two novels with another great performance. Bradbury has a wonderful voice, well suited for Fantasy. He has a deep rich tone, yet one with enough potential for the exotic that is needed for the tale. Brabury has a storyteller’s soul. You could tell he put a lot of work into getting the details just right for this world, with not just proper pronunciation, but a true understanding of the text. One of the things he does best is his transitional work. When the story shifts settings, it’s not just the names and characters that change, but the feel and flavor of Bradbury’s narration. There’s a sort of magical poetry that simmers off the surface when he’s reading the Krasian POV’s yet, when he moves to Arlen or Leesha, he grounds the tale in a simple salt of the earth storytelling. And, his reading of Rojer’s performance of The Battle of Cutter’s Hollow gave me chills. I enjoyed Bradbury’s performance so much that there were a few times I actually rewound the recording to listen to key moments again, and this is something I never do. The Daylight War is a wonderful listen, and if you have yet to experience the worlds of Peter V. Brett, you better get started soon. You’ll be in for a wonderful trip.