Review: The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle, Book 3) / Author: Peter V. Brett / Publisher: Harper Voyager / Release Date: Out Now
The Daylight War is Peter V. Brett’s third novel in his Demon Cycle sequence, following on from The Painted Man (The Warded Man in the US) and The Desert Spear. The premise is simple. Each night, as darkness falls, demons rise from the earth to terrorise mankind. The only way to survive is to protect oneself with wards and wait for sunrise. Yet, legend speaks of a Deliverer, a great man who will lead the humans to vanquish their Coreling foes.
Two men on opposite sides of humanity’s factions have laid claim to the title. Arlen Bales has done so reluctantly, tattooing his body with wards, giving him great powers while seemingly making him something more or less than human. Ahmann Jardir embraces the title, possessing relics that give him powers, as well as the magic wielded by his first wife, Inerva. Both men were once as close as brothers, fighting side by side, but are now bitter rivals.
The first two books of the series told the origins of each man, although their paths crossed as their stories developed. What happens in one book is seen through the eyes of the other man in the other book, giving the reader a unique perspective in having both points of view for each encounter. In focusing on Inerva, The Daylight War gives us a third. The author takes us back 30 years, leading up to the present, and as Inerva’s story progresses, we are shown her motivations – both personal and for what she sees as the common good – allowing us to feel sympathy for her.
That’s the beauty of Brett’s writing, his ability to bring empathy to all his characters. We’re allowed into the minds of almost all of the major players, each of them rightly the hero of their own story. Doing this means there are few obvious villains – that’s the job of the demons – but each person has their own agenda, realistic shades of grey rather than clichéd blacks and whites. They do what’s right, but they make mistakes, too. With humanity fighting amongst itself, however, this gives the demons a chance to raise their game. On the night of the new moon, the demon princes will walk the earth, and they have the Deliverer as their target...
To go into any more detail would spoil the plot; suffice to say it expands on what has gone before and, in the tradition of the first two books, not everyone is exactly who, or what, they first seem. There are twists and turns aplenty, great battle scenes, heartening moments of intimacy, and a breathtaking ending that will make you smile or shout, depending on your point of view.
The depth of Brett’s writing increased with his second novel, and has done so again with his third. The pages fly by, each one filled with tension and excitement; there’s never a dull moment, and it’s fair to say that this is the best of the series so far.