I jumped into The Desert Spear as soon as I had finished The Warded Man. It’s not often that I will go straight to book 2 in a series: I usually like to give myself a break, some time to detach from the first part of the story and not let the world I have been reading about swallow me whole (especially descriptive of the sensation I got with The Warded Man and I get with fantasy epics in general). But the first instalment of the series had left me curious and wanting more, and so it was that I plunged eagerly into The Desert Spear.
Much like The Warded Man before it, The Desert Spear starts by jumping back and forth in time. But the difference is that this time, we’re focusing on Jardir’s childhood. It gives an interesting insight in the Krasian culture and one I definitely appreciated. It also brings light to some of the events in book one in a very satisfying way. Jardir, through this book, distinguished himself as one of my favourite characters of the series alongside Rojer. Charismatic, strong willed, practical, and clever, Jardir is everything I like in a character and was from the second I got to know him in this book.
The first, probably third, of the book is spent in Jardir’s past, getting to know him, Abban and seeing his rise to power thanks to Inevera. Every now and again, the chapters skip back to present day Jardir as he begins his conquest of the Greenlands. Despite the fact that this caused the story to almost come to a halt, I very much so enjoyed my time in Krasia with Jardir: as I have said before I do enjoy slice-of-life parts of book and much as the beginning of The Warded Man felt like this, so does the beginning of The Desert Spear.
Later on in the book, we dip back into somebody else’s past: Renna. Arlen was promised to her early in the first book but left her behind when he ran away to the city. Renna hasn’t had an easy life since, and turns out to be much more of a fighter than someone in her position could be expected to be. But everything goes wrong when she tries to run away from her father with a boy she likes, only for her plans to be foiled quickly by her father who kills the other man. When she kills him in defence and falls into shock, Renna is accused of murder and death by corelings is to be her fate.
Arlen acts as the hero and rescues her, and Rena decides to join him. And this was round about when I stopped warming to her as a character. As much as I truly felt for her before she joined Arlen, she changes in a way that just doesn’t work well for me. She didn’t seem as likable once she was travelling with Arlen, and I just hope that I may be able to warm to her better in future instalments of the story.
Arlen, now known only as The Warded Man apart from by a select few, carries on his travels to try and pass on the knowledge of the wards he has discovered so that people no longer have to hide away but can start fighting back. Still involved with Leesha and Rojer, Arlen does his best to not only stay anonymous but also not entangle himself more than needed in the politics of the cities. I liked Arlen a little less this time round, but that’s probably just how his character evolved and nothing Brett did wrong. I spent half the book wanting to slap him around the head and was very glad to see him coming to his senses towards the end of the book!
Leesha and Rojer stay very much the same, although Rojer is growing into a fantastic character. By the end of the book, there was definitely someone I wanted to see Leesha end up with (no spoilers!) although I don’t think she will. Similarly, the way Rojer’s plotline is taken is just so awesome. I loved the way Brett is clearly about to go all way with it and I am looking forward to following on this in the third book.
Over all, The Desert Spear doesn’t progress the plot of the series forward by a great deal, but is more about potential alliances being formed, people getting to know each other and the slow distribution of the wards that will allow people to stand and fight. It has some fantastic scenes and the tension in between some of the characters is absolutely fantastic. The major progression is the appearance of a new type of demon but there shall be no spoilers here on that front! Brett is definitely a master of characterisation and whether you love or hate his characters, they are all unique, strong, and alive with all their flaws, hopes, and goals.
A worthy sequel to the first book, The Desert Spear leaves the reader wanting more, with too many questions that need answers. Not a page turner as such but definitely a book that is very difficult to put down!