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  • Written by Peter V. Brett
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Written by Peter V. BrettAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Peter V. Brett

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On Sale: March 10, 2009
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-345-51265-9
Published by : Del Rey Ballantine Group
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.
 

Excerpt

Chapter One


AFTERMATH

319 ar

the great horn sounded.

Arlen paused in his work, looking up at the lavender wash of the dawn sky. Mist still clung to the air, bringing with it a damp, acrid taste that was all too familiar. A quiet dread built in his gut as he waited in the morning stillness, hoping that it had been his imagination. He was eleven years old.

There was a pause, and then the horn blew twice in rapid succession. One long and two short meant south and east. The Cluster by the Woods. His father had friends among the cutters. Behind Arlen, the door to the house opened, and he knew his mother would be there, covering her mouth with both hands.

Arlen returned to his work, not needing to be told to hurry. Some chores could wait a day, but the stock still needed to be fed and the cows milked. He left the animals in the barns and opened the hay stores, slopped the pigs, and ran to fetch a wooden milk bucket. His mother was already squatting beneath the first of the cows. He snatched the spare stool and they found cadence in their work, the sound of milk striking wood drumming a funeral march.

As they moved to the next pair down the line, Arlen saw his father begin hitching their strongest horse, a five-year-old chestnut-colored mare named Missy, to the cart. His face was grim as he worked.

What would they find this time?

Before long, they were in the cart, trundling toward the small cluster of houses by the woods. It was dangerous there, over an hour's run to the nearest warded structure, but the lumber was needed. Arlen's mother, wrapped in her worn shawl, held him tightly as they rode.

"I'm a big boy, Mam," Arlen complained. "I don't need you to hold me like a baby. I'm not scared." It wasn't entirely true, but it would not do for the other children to see him clinging to his mother as they rode in. They made mock of him enough as it was.

"I'm scared," his mother said. "What if it's me who needs to be held?"

Feeling suddenly proud, Arlen pulled close to his mother again as they traveled down the road. She could never fool him, but she always knew what to say just the same.

A pillar of greasy smoke told them more than they wanted to know long before they reached their destination. They were burning the dead. And starting the fires this early, without waiting for others to arrive and pray, meant there were a great many. Too many to pray over each one, if the work was to be complete before dusk.

It was more than five miles from Arlen's father's farm to the Cluster by the Woods. By the time they arrived, the few remaining cabin fires had been put out, though in truth there was little left to burn. Fifteen houses, all reduced to rubble and ash.

"The woodpiles, too," Arlen's father said, spitting over the side of the cart. He gestured with his chin toward the blackened ruin that remained of a season's cutting. Arlen grimaced at the thought of how the rickety fence that penned the animals would have to last another year, and immediately felt guilty. It was only wood, after all.

The town Speaker approached their cart as it pulled up. Selia, whom Arlen's mother sometimes called Selia the Barren, was a hard woman, tall and thin, with skin like tough leather. Her long gray hair was pulled into a tight bun, and she wore her shawl like a badge of office. She brooked no nonsense, as Arlen had learned more than once at the end of her stick, but today he was comforted by her presence. Like Arlen's father, something about Selia made him feel safe. Though she had never had children of her own, Selia acted as a parent to everyone in Tibbet's Brook. Few could match her wisdom, and fewer still her stubbornness. When you were on Selia's good side, it felt like the safest place in the world.

"It's good that you've come, Jeph," Selia told Arlen's father. "Silvy and young Arlen, too," she said, nodding to them. "We need every hand we can get. Even the boy can help."

Arlen's father grunted, stepping down from the cart. "I brought my tools," he said. "Just tell me where we can throw in."

Arlen collected the precious tools from the back of their cart. Metal was scarce in the Brook, and his father was proud of his two shovels, his pick, and his saw. They would all see heavy use this day.

"How many lost?" Jeph asked, though he didn't really seem to want to know.

"?Twenty-seven," Selia said. Silvy choked and covered her mouth, tears welling in her eyes. Jeph spat again.

"Any survivors?" he asked.

"A few," Selia said. "Manie"-she pointed with her stick at a boy who stood staring at the funeral pyre-"ran all the way to my house in the dark."

Silvy gasped. No one had ever run so far and lived. "The wards on Brine Cutter's house held for most of the night," Selia went on. "He and his family watched everything. A few others fled the corelings and succored there, until the fires spread and their roof caught. They waited in the burning house until the beams started to crack, and then took their chances outside in the minutes before dawn. The corelings killed Brine's wife Meena and their son Poul, but the others made it. The burns will heal and the children will be all right in time, but the others . . ."

She didn't need to finish the sentence. Survivors of a demon attack had a way of dying soon after. Not all, or even most, but enough. Some of them took their own lives, and others simply stared blankly, refusing to eat or drink until they wasted away. It was said you did not truly survive an attack until a year and a day had passed.

"There are still a dozen unaccounted for," Selia said, but with little hope in her voice.

"We'll dig them out," Jeph agreed grimly, looking at the collapsed houses, many still smoldering. The cutters built their homes mostly out of stone to protect against fire, but even stone would burn if the wards failed and enough flame demons gathered in one place.

Jeph joined the other men and a few of the stronger women in clearing the rubble and carting the dead to the pyre. The bodies had to be burned, of course. No one would want to be buried in the same ground the demons rose out of each night. Tender Harral, the sleeves of his robe rolled up to bare his thick arms, lifted each into the fire himself, muttering prayers and drawing wards in the air as the flames took them.

Silvy joined the other women in gathering the younger children and tending to the wounded under the watchful eye of the Brook's Herb Gatherer, Coline Trigg. But no herbs could ease the pain of the survivors. Brine Cutter, also called Brine Broadshoulders, was a great bear of a man with a booming laugh who used to throw Arlen into the air when they came to trade for wood. Now Brine sat in the ashes beside his ruined house, slowly knocking his head against the blackened wall. He muttered to himself and clutched his arms tightly, as if cold.

Arlen and the other children were put to work carrying water and sorting through the woodpiles for salvageable lumber. There were still a few warm months left to the year, but there would not be time to cut enough wood to last the winter. They would be burning dung again this year, and the house would reek.

Again Arlen weathered a wave of guilt. He was not in the pyre, nor banging his head in shock, having lost everything. There were worse fates than a house smelling of dung.

More and more villagers arrived as the morning wore on. Bringing their families and whatever provisions they could spare, they came from Fishing Hole and Town Square; they came from the Boggin's Hill, and Soggy Marsh. Some even came all the way from Southwatch. And one by one, Selia greeted them with the grim news and put them to work.

With more than a hundred hands, the men doubled their efforts, half of them continuing to dig as the others descended upon the only salvageable structure left in the Cluster: Brine Cutter's house. Selia led Brine away, somehow supporting the giant man as he stumbled, while the men cleared the rubble and began hauling new stones. A few took out warding kits and began to paint fresh wards while children made thatch. The house would be restored by nightfall.

Arlen was partnered with Cobie Fisher in hauling wood. The children had amassed a sizable pile, though it was only a fraction of what had been lost. Cobie was a tall, thickly built boy with dark curls and hairy arms. He was popular among the other children, but it was popularity built at others' expense. Few children cared to weather his insults, and fewer still his beatings.

Cobie had tortured Arlen for years, and the other children had gone along. Jeph's farm was the northernmost in the Brook, far from where the children tended to gather in Town Square, and Arlen spent most of his free time wandering the Brook by himself. Sacrificing him to Cobie's wrath seemed a fair trade to most children.

Whenever Arlen went fishing, or passed by Fishing Hole on the way to Town Square, Cobie and his friends seemed to hear about it, and were waiting in the same spot on his way home. Sometimes they just called him names, or pushed him, but other times he came home bloody and bruised, and his mother shouted at him for fighting.

Finally, Arlen had enough. He left a stout stick hidden in that spot, and the next time Cobie and his friends pounced, Arlen pretended to run, only to produce the weapon as if from thin air and come back swinging.

Cobie was the first one struck, a hard blow that left him crying in the dirt with blood running from his ear. Willum received a broken finger, and Gart walked with a limp for over a week. It had done nothing to improve Arlen's popularity among the other children, and Arlen's father had caned him, but the other boys never bothered him again. Even now, Cobie gave him a wide berth and flinched if Arlen made a sudden move, even though he was bigger by far.

"Survivors!" Bil Baker called suddenly, standing by a collapsed house at the edge of the Cluster. "I can hear them trapped in the root cellar!"

Immediately, everyone dropped what they were doing and rushed over. Clearing the rubble would take too long, so the men began to dig, bending their backs with silent fervor. Soon after, they broke through the side of the cellar, and began hauling out the survivors. They were filthy and terrified, but all were very much alive. Three women, six children, and one man.

"Uncle Cholie!" Arlen cried, and his mother was there in an instant, cradling her brother, who stumbled drunkenly. Arlen ran to them, ducking under his other arm to steady him.

"Cholie, what are you doing here?" Silvy asked. Cholie seldom left his workshop in Town Square. Arlen's mother had told the tale a thousand times of how she and her brother had run the farrier's shop together before Jeph began breaking his horses' shoes on purpose for a reason to come court.

"Came to court Ana Cutter," Cholie mumbled. He pulled at his hair, having already torn whole clumps free. "We'd just opened the bolt-hole when they came through the wards . . ." His knees buckled, pulling Arlen and Silvy down with his weight. Kneeling in the dirt, he wept.

Arlen looked at the other survivors. Ana Cutter wasn't among them. His throat tightened as the children passed. He knew every one of them; their families, what their houses were like inside and out, their animals' names. They met his eyes for a second as they went by, and in that moment, he lived the attack through their eyes. He saw himself shoved into a cramped hole in the ground while those unable to fit turned to face the corelings and the fire. Suddenly he started gasping, unable to stop until Jeph slapped him on the back and brought him to his senses.

They were finishing a cold midday meal when a horn sounded on the far side of the Brook.

"Not two in one day?" Silvy gasped, covering her mouth.

"Bah," Selia grunted. "At midday? Use your head, girl!"

"Then what . . . ?"

Selia ignored her, rising to fetch a horn blower to signal back. Keven Marsh had his horn ready, as the folks from Soggy Marsh always did. It was easy to get separated in the marshes, and no one wanted to be wandering lost when the swamp demons rose. Keven's cheeks inflated like a frog's chin as he blew a series of notes.

"Messenger horn," Coran Marsh advised Silvy. A graybeard, he was Speaker for Soggy Marsh and Keven's father. "They prob'ly saw the smoke. Keven's telling 'em what's happened and where everyone is."

"A Messenger in spring?" Arlen asked. "I thought they come in the fall after harvest. We only finished planting this past moon!"

"Messenger never came last fall," Coran said, spitting foamy brown juice from the root he was chewing through the gap of his missing teeth. "We been worried sumpin' happened. Thought we might not have a Messenger bring salt till next fall. Or maybe that the corelings got the Free Cities and we's cut off."

"The corelings could never get the Free Cities," Arlen said.

"Arlen, shush your mouth!" Silvy hissed. "He's your elder!"

"Let the boy speak," Coran said. "Ever bin to a free city, boy?" he asked Arlen.

"No," Arlen admitted.

"Ever know anyone who had?"

"No," Arlen said again.

"So what makes you such an expert?" Coran asked. "Ent no one been to one 'cept the Messengers. They're the only ones what brave the night to go so far. Who's to say the Free Cities ent just places like the Brook? If the corelings can get us, they can get them, too."

"Old Hog is from the Free Cities," Arlen said. Rusco Hog was the richest man in the Brook. He ran the general store, which was the crux of all commerce in Tibbet's Brook.

"Ay," Coran said, "an' old Hog told me years ago that one trip was enough for him. He meant to go back after a few years, but said it wasn't worth the risk. So you ask him if the Free Cities are any safer than anywhere else."

Arlen didn't want to believe it. There had to be safe places in the world. But again the image of himself being thrown into the cellar flashed across his mind, and he knew that nowhere was truly safe at night.
Peter V. Brett|Author Q&A

About Peter V. Brett

Peter V. Brett - The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle
Peter V. Brett is the internationally bestselling author of The Warded Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War, and The Skull Throne. Raised on a steady diet of fantasy novels, comic books, and Dungeons & Dragons, Brett has been writing fantasy stories for as long as he can remember. He received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature and art history from the University at Buffalo in 1995, then spent more than a decade in pharmaceutical publishing before returning to his bliss. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Author Q&A

Interview with Peter Brett

Question:First of all, I have to ask about the composition of this novel, which is your first. Is it true that you wrote The Warded Man on your Blackberry while commuting by subway from Brooklyn to your day job in New York? This is a novel that weighs in at over 500 pages!

Peter Brett:Well, it wasn’t a Blackberry, but the rest is true. I have an HP Ipaq 6515 smartphone. It’s a little clunky compared to some of today’s smartphones, but back in late 2005 when I picked it out, it was about as close as you could get to a tricorder. I chose it because it could run Microsoft Word, which meant I could write on the mini-keyboard, sync it to my computer, and then continue working in the same document on my desktop.

Finding time to write when you have a full-time job (not to mention a life outside work) is possibly the greatest hurdle for the would-be novelist to overcome. On a good day, I was on the subway an hour and a half. On a bad day, anyone who is familiar with the NYC subway system knows your commute can grow exponentially. I was always looking for a way to make that time productive, but writing longhand on the subway is impossible.

Enter the smartphone. On days when I could get a seat, I would put my iPod on to drown out the background chatter and start thumb-writing. I set a goal of 1,000 words a day for myself, and usually I could get at least 800 of those done on the commute. More if I wrote at lunch. At night, I would go home, sync the phone to my PC, and then clean up the file, fix typos, and finish off the quota (if needed).
The phone really changed my life, because it meant I could write anywhere, at any time. In a long line at the bank? Write. Waiting at the bar for a friend? Write. In a cab, or the passenger seat of a car? Write.
I would frequently even come out of the subway, walk up the steps and down the sidewalk, all the way to my office, still typing away. It’s pure luck that I never walked into an open manhole or got knocked over by a bike messenger. I would say that a good 60% of The Warded Man was written thus. I don’t know that I could ever have done it without this tool to make my historically unproductive time so productive.
Q:I read a lot of fantasy fiction, and I confess that when I first heard about your novel, the idea of a world where demons rose from the ground each night to attack a dwindling population of ever-more-desperate humans didn’t really grab me. Until I read the first few pages. Then I knew I was reading something special, a first novel utterly unique in its concept yet written with all the skill and assurance of a veteran of the bestseller lists. Can you tell us a little about the book and where you got the idea for this compelling new world?

PB:I firmly believe that it is characters, more than concept, that drive a story. Make the characters relatable and compelling, and the story will work. When my mother, who had never read a fantasy book in her life, read it and told me she was lying awake at night, wondering what would happen to the characters, I knew I had something.

As for how it all started, I was taking a fantasy writing class at NYU in 1999, and we were given a homework assignment to “write the first scene of an original fantasy novel.” I wrote a little story about a young boy named Arlen who was never allowed to go farther from home than he could get by midday, because he needed to get back home before the demons came out at night. He always wondered what was over that next hill, though, and promised himself that one day he would find out, even if it meant spending a night outside with the demons.

To be honest, I knocked out the story in one night and put it aside for years before coming back to it and working on it in earnest. I was writing a very different book at the time, but Arlen was never far from my thoughts, and every once in a while I would jot down a few notes on his world.

Q:As I mentioned above, it’s hard to believe this is a first novel. What was your path to publication, and what writers have influenced your ideas about writing and fantasy?

PB:The Warded Man isn’t really my first novel. Technically, it’s my fourth, though it’s the only one I ever tried to sell. Writing was always a passion of mine, but in all honesty, I never believed I was good enough at it to have a shot at doing it professionally.

I wrote my first novel, An Unlikely Champion, in high school, and it was godawful. I mean really, really bad. My friends and family said nice things about it at the time, but I think they were just being gracious. I then went to the University at Buffalo and majored in English, taking writing classes, but in truth I learned more about storytelling in my weekly games of Dungeons and Dragons, where I served as Dungeon Master and wrote original adventures for the players.

After college, I wrote a high fantasy novel called Heart’s Guard, which was about the adventures of a warrior who worshipped the goddess of Love, and was an allegory about the awful things we sometimes do for love. There were a lot of worthwhile parts to that book, but I knew I was still learning and needed more practice. I took what I had learned and started fresh, writing Snowcrest, the sequel, a book I am still quite proud of. I learned even more writing Snowcrest than I had with Heart’s Guard, and rather than continue that series, I opted to try something new. Much as I loved those other books, they were still about swordsmen and wizards and elves, and the fantasy market had quite a bit of that already. I decided to go back to Arlen and his demon problem.

After I had finished the first draft of The Warded Man, I met a Literary Agent at a SFWA NY Publisher’s Reception (a.k.a. the mill & swill). He gave me his card and told me to send him a copy of the book. I did, and he totally trashed it.

I was pretty devastated. I tried to come up with all sorts of reasons why he didn’t know what he was talking about, but of course he did, and was right to bounce the book. I look at it now and see that it was deeply flawed. I then sent him Snowcrest, at which point he called me up and told me he wanted to meet for coffee.

He sat me down and told me that I had real potential, but that it was clear my writing was mostly self-taught, and that while my instincts were good, I still needed polish. He gave me a copy of Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith, and told me to read it, think about it, and then rewrite The Warded Man.

I really appreciated my agent taking that time to talk to me. I knew he was a busy man and wouldn’t have bothered if he didn’t think I could succeed, so I took his words to heart. I took a year to rewrite the book, throwing away close to 75% of the first draft, and sent it off to him, holding my breath.

The rest, as they say, is history. Not only did Joshua agree to represent the book, but within a few short months he had sold it (along with two sequels) in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Russia, Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Spain. I am still kind of stunned at the sudden success.

As for influences, I have always been a pretty voracious fantasy reader. I started with Tolkien, naturally, and went on from there to Terry Brooks, R.A. Salvatore, Douglas Niles, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, C.S. Friedman, Raymond Feist, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Phillip Pullman, David Farland, Naomi Novik, and countless others. I think I must have read the entire TSR line of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books in the 80’s and 90’s. I also read a lot of horror stories, mostly Stephen King and James Herbert.

All of those authors made an impact on me and my writing, but the two books that I really credit with raising my game were James Clavell’s Shogun and George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It was in these books that I realized just how far the medium could reach, and that a lot of the limits in writing are self-imposed by the authors. I don’t know if I can ever achieve that level of writing, but I intend to spend the rest of my life trying.

Q:The novel begins in 319AR–that is, 319 years after the return of the demons. Can you fill us in a bit on this back story without dropping any spoilers? Where did the demons go? Why did they come back?

PB:Approximately 3500 years prior to the events in The Warded Man, mankind was at war with demonkind. Using weapons etched with magic wards, humans fought demons on even terms, achieving something of a stalemate. It was around that time that a Krasian general named Kaji conquered the known world, creating a vast army with only one purpose: to exterminate the demons once and for all.

He came close to succeeding. Very close. But before his victory was complete, the demons just stopped coming. Night after night passed, with no sign of them. Thinking that they had won, Kaji’s people called him the Deliverer, and believed he was a messenger of Everam, the Creator.

But after the death of Kaji, his empire began to splinter. Humans began fighting amongst themselves, as they are wont to do, and after a few generations, they stopped believing that demons even existed. Magic became the stuff of fairy tales, and science took hold. Civilization rose to great new heights.

But the demons were waiting. And breeding. And when they were ready, they came back with a vengeance, destroying much of what humanity had built in a very short time. Robbed of their technology, humans were reduced overnight to a medieval society, and forced to retreat to walled fortresses, protected by ancient symbols that were once thought to be superstitious nonsense. But the ancient tales of the Deliverer say that he will come again…

Q:Is this the first book of a trilogy, or is it a more open-ended series?

PB:I am currently contracted for three books in the series, but I hope to do more. I have a definite end in mind, but I would like to take some time to explore the world and its more interesting characters a bit before getting there.

Q:Tell us about your main characters, Arlen, Rojer, and Leesha.

PB:I’ve always felt that people are defined as much by their flaws as their talents, and I approach characters with that perspective in mind. With Arlen, I wanted to write about a hero who had to really earn his special abilities. I was tired of heroes who were born to privilege and power, or who were given some magical trinket that made them special. I wanted to tell the story of a normal person who had to suffer and knowingly give up everything that made him human in order to survive.

Rojer is scarred, physically and emotionally, at an early age, and raised by an abusive foster parent. He is a textbook ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), and has a very hard time fitting into normal society. Of the three, I would say he is the hardest to write, and his story is in many ways the most tragic, as every parental figure he finds tends to get killed right before his eyes.

Leesha was meant to be that perfect girl we all knew in high school, the one every girl wanted to be, and every boy wanted to be with. Beautiful, rich, smart, and pampered, but so kind that no one could hold it against her. But in being what everyone expected her to be, she was never really tested. It’s only when her seemingly perfect life is shattered that she learns what she’s really made of.

It’s interesting to note that the original draft of the book was entirely in Arlen’s POV, and he first met Rojer and Leesha as adults when he rescued them on the road. Giving Rojer and Leesha their own perspectives was, I think, what really made the book work. Leesha’s story, in particular, took off. She practically writes herself.

Q:The people among whom your trio of main characters grow up live fearful lives on the margins of what can be protected from the demons. What sets these three apart?

PB:They’re all stubborn as hell.

Q:Arlen is a warrior, Rojer a musician, and Leesha a healer. Why these three archetypal occupations?

PB:I have no doubt that my decades of playing Dungeons and Dragons had an influence there, but there were practical considerations as well. Every book about monsters needs someone to fight them, someone to patch up the people who do the fighting, and someone to provide entertaining exposition.

I tried very hard to approach these archetypes from a different angle, however. One thing I decided early on is that there would be no swords in this world, because fighting a demon with a sword meant getting closer to it than any sane person would ever get. And in truth, warriors in Arlen’s world are almost extinct, because the best of them can’t even stand toe-to-toe with a lesser demon without the lost fighting wards.

The concept of the Herb Gatherer had a lot of interest for me, especially since I spent ten years working in pharmaceutical publishing. They seem at a glance to be quite primitive, but many of them, like Leesha, actually have access to old-world books of science and medicine, and brew cures that are quite potent.

The traveling minstrel is a fantasy standard, but I was careful not to make Rojer into comic relief. I wanted a real character, not an annoying sidekick. The Jongleurs in the story are a necessary part of society, because they maintain oral storytelling traditions in a world where most folks are illiterate. I’ve always thought music held a magical quality, and I wanted to explore that a little, too, especially because the first book is rather low-magic.

It’s also worthwhile to note that all three characters will be called upon to exceed the purview of their archetypes as the series progresses.

Q:Arlen hears tales of the Krasian people, who actually fight the demons rather than meekly shelter behind defensive wards. Your descriptions of these warriors, whom Arlen encounters to life-changing effect, reminded me of Arab cultures. And that led me to reflect a bit on how the culture of Arlen and the other main characters is recognizably Western, around the Middle Ages or so. Can you talk a bit about the use of history in fantasy, the touchstones of the real world that you employ to make your fantasy world real and believable?

PB:It was very important to me to make the setting a familiar one that readers could easily recognize and feel comfortable with, while still trying to keep it fresh and original. By and large, ever since Tolkien, Western fantasy stories have used a pseudo-European medieval setting, so I began there, but with the intention of expanding outside that comfort zone once the readers had been given a chance to bond with the characters.

It’s true that the Krasian people are based mostly on Middle Eastern culture, and the concept of jihad in particular, but they were also heavily influenced by the ancient Spartan citizen soldier model, and by some of the cultures of the Far East.

I love fantasy because it gives writers an opportunity to pull interesting facets from history and real world culture to flavor their stories without the need to adhere too strictly to actual events. Every culture in the world has its own mythologies that define it in many ways. That's something that has always fascinated me. I have intentions to explore other cultures as well, if the series expands beyond three books.

Q:What about the events of the real world, our world, that were going on as you wrote The Warded Man–specifically, the War on Terror. It’s often said that fantasy fiction is pure escapism, but it seemed to me, on the contrary, that you were engaging very directly with certain aspects of our modern world.

PB:There's no denying that what was happening in the world while I was working on this book had a major impact. I was in Manhattan on September 11th, and could not possibly have been unmoved by what happened. It forced me to look a lot harder at the Middle East, U.S. policy there, and to learn about the people that we were being told were our enemies. The reality I found, of course, was far more complex than what we were being told in sound bites by the news and our leaders. I hope to make my story, and the moral questions it raises, just as complex. There is definitely more going on than meets the eye in the first book.

Q:The demons seem like mindless monsters. Are they really as mindless as they seem? Are there demons with more intelligence that haven’t yet made an appearance?

PB:Oooh, that would be telling. Suffice it to say, there are quite a few demon breeds yet to be revealed.

Q:Do you have a working title yet for the next volume in the series? Can you give us any hints of what lies ahead for Arlen, Rojer, and Leesha?

PB:The second volume in the series will be titled The Desert Spear, and the first half (give or take) of the book will step back in time, telling the life story of Jardir, the Krasian leader, from childhood to the present day, much as the first volume did for Arlen. It will tell the story of the very real friendship between these two would-be messiahs, and hopefully give a different perspective on some of the events in The Warded Man.

There will also be another minor character from the first book, Renna Tanner, who will take center stage in The Desert Spear, along with plenty of scenes centered around Arlen, Rojer, and Leesha, as the characters learn more about ward magic and start to bring back powers long forgotten. Magic will play an increasing role as the series progresses.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise

Praise

"Brett's debut builds slowly and grimly on a classic high fantasy framework of black-and-white morality and bloodshed. Young Arlen battles demons to save his mother while his father watches in terror; when his mother dies, Arlen runs away. Leesha leaves her village to work in the city hospital of Angiers after her betrothed claims to have taken her virginity. Jongleur Arrick Sweetsong saved himself from demons at the expense of a female friend, but he honors her last request and raises her son, Rojer, as his apprentice. Only near the end do the three strands of the story begin to intertwine. With its nameless enemies that exist only to kill, Brett's gritty tale will appeal to those who tire of sympathetic villains and long for old-school orc massacres."—Publishers Weekly

“I enjoyed The Warded Man immensely. There is much to admire in Peter Brett’s writing, and his concept is brilliant. There’s action and suspense all the way, plus he made me care about his characters and want to know what’s going to happen next.”—Terry Brooks

The Warded Man works not only as a great adventure novel but also as a reflection on the nature of heroism.”—Charlaine Harris

“An absolute masterpiece . . . The novel [is] literally ‘unputdownable,’ and certainly deserves to be the next Big Thing in dark fantasy.”—HorrorScope

“A very accomplished debut fantasy, broad in its scope.”—SFRevu

“A fabulous new fantasy series . . . that is likely to become a classic. Excellent fantasy literature.”—The Cairns Post ,Queensland, Australia


From the Hardcover edition.

  • The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett
  • March 23, 2010
  • Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
  • Del Rey
  • $7.99
  • 9780345518705

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