The Daylight War, Demon Cycle 3, by Peter V Brett
I should perhaps start by mentioning that Peter V Brett is one of my favourite authors of recent years, and that I really enjoyed The Painted Man and its follow up The Desert Spear. While not exactly a new theme, the Demon Cycle puts a different slant on the fight between man and demon and the sometimes blurred lines between good and evil. I really wanted to enjoy the behemoth of a book that was the third in the series, but there was just too much in The Daylight War that I felt battled against the greatness of its predecessors.
Firstly for me, was the shift that led us to focus more on Inevera, a character I never really cared too much for. Fair enough this could give the opportunity to get to know her a bit more, but the way it was done was just all wrong. I found so much of this book to be such a chore to get through that I was close to skipping to the end of more than one chapter as I followed what seemed at the time to be a day by day history of the early years of the Damaji’ting.
Secondly, and often tied in with those early Inevera scenes, was the sudden influx of sex and debauchery. Now, I’m not a prude, but I almost felt embarrassed for Brett when reading certain sections of this book. There’s just no need for the inclusion and certainly not the perverse level of graphic detail of sex in a fantasy novel. Sometimes it seemed as if I was reading Fifty Shades of Fantasy Grey, as if the author wasn’t getting any himself and was letting out his frustration through writing about it instead.
This beast of a book has eight hundred and something pages to it. Cut back on the history of Inevera and the “Love you Arlen Bales,” cut out the stiffening members, the seed glistening on her thigh, the get naked on your knees and penetrated by a marble phallus and maybe then you’d have a five hundred and something page novel that stands up against the others in the series.
The complaint I’ve heard most about The Daylight War is the cliffhanger ending. Rather than a planned finale, this to me smacked a little of “I’ve written more than I should have, let’s just leave it here for now.” It was a little like Brett decided to get back with the storyline but then realised he’d run out of time, or pages, and just stopped writing at the end of a chapter. I didn’t have half as much of a problem with the cliffhanger as I’ve read many people did, but maybe I was just happy enough to put the book down and move on to something else by that point.
When The Daylight War did move forwards with the storyline, it worked well and reminded me of why I liked The Painted Man so much in the first place. The battle between man and demon, and the desperate preparation of defence is the real story here and there’s a lot to be said for how it’s handled. Even the minor characters get you rooting for them without needing to take you by the hand and buy you dinner first. You can almost see the hope these people feel as they learn that they can stop hiding and fight back for once.
I think the only part of this fight I didn’t get so much on board with was the level of the superhuman powers now being discovered by Arlen Bales – is there anything he can’t do. I can live with the fighting, the healing and even the shifting, but the Superman-esque floating in the air was a little too far for me, and the ability to take that shifting and turn it into a superfast method of transport was just a little too convenient at times. Overall though, it’s the human element that makes this series a good one.
Overall: One step forwards but two steps back for Peter V Brett, this was disappointing overall in light of the preceding two in the series.
Dominish rating: 69%