Here we are, one of the few fantasy books I’ll read this year: The Daylight War by Peter V Brett. It seems like an age since I first entered the world of the Demon Cycle with The Painted Man, way back in March of 2009, and the wait since I read The Desert Spear has been a long one. I had high expectations of The Daylight War – simply a given considering how much I enjoyed its predecessors – and it’s safe to say that it’s a hugely impressive and enjoyable novel.
The Daylight War picks up where we left off in The Desert Spear, and as such it gets the pace going pretty much straight away. We have Arlen and Renna together, growing closer, with Arlen speaking more of his abilities and what he learnt from the Mind Demon he destroyed. Jardir is settling into his new city after his invasion, enforcing Krasian Law, and attempting to wed Leesha as his Northern wife. With Inevera and Abban both having Jardir’s ear – one through Hora magic, the other shrewd business sense – events and plans are being laid out to facilitate Jardir’s further conquest of the northern lands, and the impending Daylight War.
Brett keeps the formula from the previous books again here, with Inevera the focus rather than Arlen or Jardir. This starts early on and her history is woven throughout the novel, giving the details of her past, where she came from, and just how she worked and manipulated events to her benefit. As the details are spread throughout there are pieces of information that we don’t learn about until later in the story, though Brett feeds us the right information at the right time to ensure the story keeps a good and steady pace. This was all handled well, better than The Desert Spear (where Jardir’s story took up the first couple of hundred pages), and allowed further inspection and revelation of the Krasian culture.
The details of how the world works are also given some more clarity in The Daylight War, particularly from the side of the demons. We learn new bits of information with the impending arrival of more Mind Demons at Waning, and most of those direct from the Minds. It sheds light on a few aspects of how the demons work, and on the history of Thesa, but opens up more questions than it answers. The relationship between the demons and humans is touched on, and I expect we’ll see and hear more of this in the future.
Character-wise, things are much the same with our bunch of heroes and villains, though it’s never entirely clear which is which. Brett does a fantastic job at keeping the interactions between the characters fresh, with some issues causing more discussion than others. Some characters, like Rojer, grow more and start fulfilling the promise that has been there since the start, while others, like Leesha, seem to take a step back and are not as prominent this time around.
It’s safe to say that The Daylight War is a book of three characters: Arlen, Jardir, and Inevera. Each have big roles to play – especially considering the impending confrontation of the two Deliverers. With Arlen and Jardir each starting to discover more and more about demon magic the possibilities become very intriguing, and the outcome between them is never entirely knowable. Inevera plays a large role because of her backstory, and, of course, because of her relationship to Jardir. She’s the character that has the most growth, and this is simply because Brett allows us to understand her more, learn her motivations and reasoning.
I read through The Daylight War pretty quickly, enjoying every page, and always wanting to know where the story was going next. The big events happen later on in the novel, but that doesn’t stop the build up from being any less enjoyable. It’s a big book, but you wouldn’t think that when times flies all too quickly while you’re reading it. I’m very interested to see where Brett takes the story from here and hope that, with the end-game in sight, he delivers everything I hope for.