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03 May 2010
Review: The Painted Man by Peter V Brett
I just read The Painted Man by Peter V Brett for the second time. I loved it the first time I read it, it was my pick of the year. On reading it, I was just as involved with the story. I had slightly misremembered the significance of some things, but overall it was just as I remembered; an involving plot that twists and turns, and three well written protagonists that you can’t help but appreciate. The best things are the monsters (aren’t they always?), demons (creatures from the world’s core) in many shapes and sizes, inhumane and alien. The Painted Man follows the story of one boy who refuses to hide anymore, a girl who realises she can be more than just a wife and mother, and a boy who overcomes the odds to discover an amazing musical gift. Their story weaves together in a land where every night is fraught with terror and potential peril. Crofters hide in their warded cottages, listening to the sound of demonic screams of rage as the corelings test their wards over and over, berserking at the thought of their slaughter. The cityfolk hide behind their warded walls. They don't see or hear the corelings, but they are still hidebound because that one night they chance the streets might be the night the corelings succeed in breaking the wards. Being caught outside of the wards is a known death sentence, and so humanity clings to its protection. The only people that face the night are the Messengers and Jongleurs. They journey outside the cities and villages, with only a warded rope circle to protect them. These are flimsy, and if they are aligned incorrectly, or they get smudged the corelings can break in and eat the people and horses. However, in the desert regions, the people there have a different philosophy. They keep their women and children safe, but of a night the men hunt the corelings, and if they are martyred when hunting they are accorded honour and special rewards in the afterlife.
Age is a legacy in this novel. The story goes that once there were no corelings, and when they came, humanity was lead in battle against them by the Deliverer, the painted man. There were large battles and eventually the corelings were sent back to the core. I have to say here, that this whole narrative reminds me of Ar-Pharazon’s battle against Sauron in The Second Age in The Lord of the Rings world (I can’t remember which book it was LOL). In The Painted Man back story, after the corelings were defeated, the various city states tried to claim the Deliverer as their own, so they could rule the land. The Deliverer grew tired of this and disappeared. A lot of mysticism surrounds this fact, and it is said he will one day return. As the immediacy of the horror of the corelings faded, humanity started the age of science and forgot about the importance of warding, and forgot the combat wards, amongst others. And so the corelings returned to wreak havoc on the now unsuspecting and unprotected mankind. Scattered all over the landscape are ruins from ages past, in which Messengers dig around in these looking for useful wards that have been forgotten in time. Messengers, as their name suggests, also connects the scattered and dwindling communities. The Jongleurs ride with them, entertaining the children, and sharing (reinforcing) the stories that make up their culture – such as the ones about Deliverer.
The three main characters, despite starting life in a normal existence in small close knit communities, have a traumatic event happen in their lives, which makes them aware that there is more to life than what they were raised to know. So Arlen becomes a Messenger, Leesha becomes healer, and Rojer becomes a Jongleur. I can’t really write more about this book without giving things away, but suffice to say, it is a very riveting story that I loved both times I read it. I bought the sequel, and I am looking forwards to reading it and finding out what happens next! Both Bonnie and I got review copies of The Painted Man through Booktagger.com and were quite impressed with Peter V Brett and this book. I really can’t wait to start reading its sequel, The Desert Spear.