Review: The Great Bazaar and Brayan's Gold (Demon Cycle) / Author: Peter V. Brett / Publisher: Harper Voyager / Release Date: Out Now
This slender volume is a pendant to Brett's Demon Cycle novels and features their protagonist, intrepid Messenger Arlen Bales, at different stages of his colourful career. The first of its two stories, Brayan's Gold, sees him still an apprentice, transporting a wagon of dynamite to a remote mining town in the mountains (a plot which tips its hat to Henri-Georges Clouzot's classic film The Wages of Fear). In the second, The Great Bazaar, he's a grizzled pro dealing with the shady merchants and vicious warrior caste of the desert town of Fort Krasia. In both instances, he must also do battle with the corelings – demons who rise from the earth at the end of day and wreak havoc during the night. Preeminent among these is One Arm, a massive and indestructible stone demon who has a personal score to settle with Arlen.
Brett has learnt a fair bit from George R.R. Martin in terms of delivering nuanced characters who tug on your heartstrings and backdrops that are richly textured yet also credible and down to earth. But, with their contrasting terrains (snowy and freezing cold in one and desert-parched and dangerously exotic in the other) and their skin-of-the-teeth scuffles with supernatural fauna, these tales also hark back to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories– and that's praise. If you want to dip your toe into the Demon Cycle, this attractive little book is a good place to start.