I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.
Peter Brett is coming to my city in August to the When Words Collide conference. I was interested to try at least one of his books before that event and where better to start than with the first book in the Demon Cycle.
Although I read a lot of fantasy, especially urban fantasy, I haven’t read many books that feature demons in any serious way. Brett makes them into a seriously scary force to be reckoned with, but gives humanity a set of symbols—the wards—with which to protect itself. You’ve got to maintain your wards carefully, because if they get worn or smudged, you’re hooped!
Enter Arlen, who makes it his life’s mission to learn as many wards as possible and to use them effectively. He explores old ruins in search of more information, trying to get humanity back on even footing with the corelings (as the demons are known). Eventually, he takes warding to the next level, becoming in some ways a human ward against the demonic forces.
The intertwining of the lives of the three main characters felt a little forced to me—as a reader, I could see it coming from miles away, and yet it didn’t feel natural. Despite that, I really enjoyed the basic story-line and I’ve put a hold on the second book in the series. I’ll be interested to hear Mr. Brett speak at the conference this summer.