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Book Review: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

I read this one in 2011.

Very cool dark fantasy. The world, once dominated by high technology, has been overrun by demons. The handful of survivors hold off the demons by rediscovering magic from the past, in the form of wards. But the wards need constant maintenance, and any mistake or weathering could let the demons in.

After centuries like this, most are afraid to fight. But Arlen makes it his life’s work to stand against the demons and goes off hunting lost wards of the past.

The demons themselves seem little more than elemental savage animals, composed of wood or rock or flame. But they are fiercely malevolent, and hold a grudge. Arlen wounds one, and it hounds him for years, always searching for a way through his wards. And it’s not just the demons that stand in his way. Most of his fellow humans are afraid to follow him, or actively stand in his way, wanting to seize his glory for themselves.

The history of the world is only hinted at, but I’m curious to see more. What really grabbed me, though, was the writing. I must have read two hundred pages in the first sitting. If I hadn’t hit a section break, I might have kept going, ignoring sleep. The tension level remains high almost throughout the book. The characters are flawed, and have their weaknesses, but I believe in them, and they face the kinds of challenges like bullies and so forth one expects—even in a world dominated by demons rampaging every night.

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