At last, the highly anticipated third book in The Demon Cycle series by Peter V Brett is here. The Daylight War made our 2013 most anticipated list, is a site favorite, and is the forum’s February Book Club book. It’s been almost 3 years since Desert Spear was released, and despite 2011’s Brayan’s Gold, it’s been a rough wait.
Well, the wait is over. Was it worth it, or does Brett disappoint?
We’ve been given the histories behind the series’ primary characters in the prior two books. Arlen, Renna, Leesha, Rojer, and Ahmann all return, and this time we get the backstory of Ahmann’s first wife, Inevera (who graces the book’s cover). I found Inevera’s backstory to be much more readable than Ahmann Jardir’s in The Desert Spear. While I still find the entire Krasian culture reprehensible, Inevera’s history was a lot more readable and made her a lot more likeable. Her motivations are understandable, and I found myself finding less and less to dislike about her. This was the opposite for me in Desert Spear; the more I read about Ahmann and his culture as a whole, the more I hated him.
The first quarter of the book focused on Arlen and Renna, and was nonstop demon-killing action. The story picks up the night Desert Spear left off, with Renna and Arlen recovering from the attack of the mimic and mind demon and making their way back to Deliverer’s Hollow to prepare for the coming New Moon, or Waning, slaughtering demons all the way.
Leesha, Rojer, Ahmann and Inevera make up the next piece of the book, with secondary characters making relevant returns (Gared, Elona, Wonda, Abban, and others). No groundbreaking revelations with these characters. Brett does try to evolve some of the characters, yet some characters still suffer from horny teenager syndrome.
Brett paces the book well, and I didn’t feel like any of the parts dragged on or got boring, despite the potential. Normally, scenes of court being held or road trips get pretty dull, but Brett manages to sprinkle enough action and plot progression in these scenes to make them readable and entertaining. It takes about 80% of the book before the Waning fight starts, and it was an exciting, tense fight. We actually get two versions of this battle, one from Arlen’s group and one from Ahmann’s group—two for one! We get a lot more insight into demon culture, tactics, magic, and get some really interesting surprises during the fight, as mind demons return as another point of view.
My main gripe is the ending. I don’t think I am alone when I say I don’t like cliffhanger endings, and this one is damn near literally a cliff hanger ending. The book ended so abruptly I thought maybe I was missing a chapter in my copy. It ended right in the middle of where a climax should have been. There was no wind-down—the book started in 3rd gear, quickly shifted to 5th, and stayed there until the very last sentence. In a series where I might have to wait 3+ years for the next book to come out, this was really aggravating.
Fans of the series will not be disappointed. That’s a cliché thing to say in a book review, but it’s true. Brett has his hooks in me and I want more of The Demon Cycle. This book was better than the Desert Spear, but not as good as The Painted Man. I would certainly say it was closer to the first book in quality and plot than the second. I just hope that it doesn’t take three years before I get to read book four, The Skull Throne.