The Warded Man


Peter V. Brett


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

November 9, 2019

he Warded Man is book 1 in the Demon Cycle. Fortunately, all of the books in the series have been written before I began reading, so I don't have to worry about the author perishing (Robert Jordan) or quitting (George R.R. Martin) without finishing the entire tale. Whether or not I actually read the complete series is up to me.

There are so many fantasy novels written now that it is hard to sift the wheat from the chaff. I only started on the Warded Man on the recommendation of a friend from work. (He also recommended other books that I have enjoyed like Finnikin of the Rock, Graceling, and Keturah and Lord Death). The Warded Man is a level above the routine fantasy stories getting published, it is well worth getting a copy.

The Warded Man is the story of Arlen Bates, who is growing in Tibbet's Brook, in a world plagued by demons. Every night, the demons rise up out of the core of the earth (the demons are called Corelings) to slay as many humans as possible. The demons are much tougher than the humans, but humanity has the benefit of wards, which apparently are magical symbols that repel the demons. Build a circle with the right wards, and the demons cannot step across it. Nevertheless, every night the demons arise and attack, hoping to find a damaged ward or a gap in the protective circle. Arlen's family is attack by corelings, and his father responds in a cowardly (but completely understandable) manner. Disgusted with his dad's actions, Arlen leaves the farm and sets out to discover how to take the fight to the demons and destroy them once and for all. The story follows Arlen as he trains to be a messenger and develop warding skills. Once he considers his training sufficient, Arlen leaves Fort Miln (and leaves some broken hearts) and sets out on his single minded mission to destroy the demons.

There are many characters in the Warded Man. It also tells the story of Leesha Paper (her father is a paper maker), a smart young woman who studies to become a healer for her village, Cutter's Hollow. Leesha is promised in marriage to a big boor of a man named Gared, and decides that she can't stand his behavior. Instead, she joins Bruna, learning from her the arts of medicine, and few other useful tricks as well. Eventually, Leesha leaves the village and heads to the city for more training, but being out on the road means exposure to demon attacks at night, and human brigands by day.

This also tells the story of Rojer, a master fiddler. His story begins in the town of Riverbridge, when he is just a small boy and demons break through the wards to kill the rest of his family. Taken by the jonguler (wandering minstrel) to Fort Arrick, Rojer learns all the skills he needs to become great. Rojer is still in his teens throughout this novel, and feels that the other characters don't treat him fairly due to his youth. Rojer is especially in love with Leesha, but she sees him just as a boy.

Eventually the stories of Arlen, Leesha and Rojer mesh together as they fight against a huge onslaught of demons. It is a well told tale, and I look forward to the next volume in the series.