Rating: 4/5 starsThe Warded Man

Overall, this book wasn’t bad at all. At times I really liked the characters, other times, I didn’t. Pacing of the book was good; however, I did find some grammatical errors and typos in my edition. Brett wasn’t writing in third person omnipresent so he shouldn’t have switched points of view in the middle of a section and I noticed a few times he did, which are errors.

The premise was solid. Mankind was plagued by fear from the last demon war. The great Warders (people who drew magic wards to fend off the demons and protect themselves) of old are all but a lost breed who vanished from the world 300 years ago. Now, contemporary Warders remain who know very little of the ancient magic.

I wasn’t thrilled with the execution of this book. The book is 430 pages long and spans 10 years. This is difficult to do for anyone, let alone a novice writer.

As an author, I’m interested in the development and psychology of the characters.

Arlen, who I really enjoyed reading, became the Warded Man about 100 pages shy of the end. What I thought was poorly done by Brett was that we see Arlen at the end of his rope, stranded to die and left alone with demons. Then, Brett switches to his other characters, Leesha and Rojer. The next time we see Arlen, it is four years later and he has become the Warded Man. The Warded Man’s personality is completely different than of his younger self, Arlen. He has matured, lost a lot of his humanity, and become a fighting demon machine (which means cool battle scenes but no more character development). As an author, I’m more interested in the character development than the battle scenes. I want to know what happened in those four years where we can see Arlen’s de-evolution and his gradual shift in mind-set to become the Warded Man. The abrupt shift left a bad taste in my mouth. It would have been far more interesting if Brett had made Arlen fully transform into the Warded Man at the climactic battle at the end, instead of 100 pages beforehand.

Because of the poor execution, the characterization and development of the characters suffered.

In addition, Brett spent a good 50-100 pages developing the character of Rojer, who was completely useless. Unless Rojer has something awesome coming up for him in book 2, I found his sections boring and very uninteresting. He used Rojer as a plot device to have the Warded Man save Leesha. Understandable, Brett didn’t need to develop his character so lamely if all he was going to be used for was a “save the cat” moment for the Warded Man.

Leesha, however, was one of the more interesting characters, probably more so than Arlen. I believe this was due to Brett spending far more time with Leesha in development before she got to her major plot point about ¾ through the book, moving from her farm village to the city. We had a chance to know her more intimately because of that. Where Arlen was single-minded and driven, Leesha was open to new possibilities and open-minded.

Brett did a great job creating the world of the Warded Man. He gave accurate descriptions of scenery and imagery that I wasn’t left struggling to find a picture in my mind. He was clever in his use of curses, often having characters say, “Night, woman!” or “To the Coreling with you” or “Corespawn”. While these things are little turns of phrases, it helps to flesh out the world – after all, a character who doesn’t have a “hell” but calls it the “Core” would never say “hell” in the book. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.

Now to some general things I wasn’t thrilled about. There were too many references to a gender biased world where women were only good for sex and bearing children. Which I’m not necessarily opposed too, after all, this is how our world work for a good number of centuries before we wised up, however, I thought Brett’s execution was over-the-top with seemingly an un-ending amount of references to women having babies. Almost quite literally, every conversation between two females had to do with giving birth and boys looking at their “paps” (which word choice I found quite unappealing and infantile).

I thought his diction when referring to body parts was juvenile, particularly adults referring to their parents as “Da” and “Ma”.

Overall, solid book and with a better execution of the plot and characterization, could have been great.

About Joshua G. Silverman