“The Daylight War” by Peter V. Brett

daylightwarThe Daylight War is Book 3 of the Demon Cycle (I reviewed book 1, but I never reviewed book 2, which is too bad since that’s the book that got me excited about the series). I had it pre-ordered for quite a while, and so I was pretty excited when it finally arrived on Feb 12, and ended up finishing it the same day.

We pick up the story right about where we left off in The Desert Spear. Our heroes (Arlen and Jardir) are now aware of mind-demons and mimic demons thanks to the attacks they both survived independently. They also realise that there will be a massive attack when the moon is full again, so they start preparing – Jardir in the ex-Fort Rizon and Arlen in Cutter’s Hollow. The star of the book isn’t the present-day story, though, it’s the flashbacks to Inevara’s story.

The Daylight War is the best book in the series so far. I really enjoy Brett’s slow expansion of the world and the protagonists – so far, both his sequels have taken the one-dimensional antagonist from the previous book and turned them into a sympathetic protagonist. Inevara handles this treatment even better than Jardir. She ends up being my favourite character so far, maybe because she’s almost always in control of herself, even when the dice throw surprises at her (and they throw quite a few). Even when she’s consumed by doubt, she takes action and adapts as necessary – no other characters in the series do that so well. It’s a pretty classic story – poor but smart girl gets chosen, goes to “school” with a bunch of other people who are jealous, etc. The dice are very interesting – I wonder if we’ll ever find out more about how they tell the future.

The other characters have also changed and grown – some for the better. Rojer has finally acquired some self-confidence, probably helped by his newfound relationship. I’m really glad he stopped mooning over Leesha, but I still find the progression of his new relationships a bit unbelievable – especially given that most of the book takes place over a month. I mean, I’m glad it works, Rojer is way less annoying, so I guess I won’t complain too much.

Jardir and Arlen seem to have turned into zen masters, except for their very rash decision towards the end of the book. They’ve developed extremely strong powers, and a patience and understanding to match. This makes them kind of boring, since they’re always being reasonable and don’t really have any internal conflict. I don’t want to say much about the ending, but I didn’t approve of it at all – I think it belies the leadership that they’ve both seemingly accepted. But then, there’s a lot of personal history there – maybe that was the internal conflict.

The other characters – Renna is scary. She always seems like she’s one second from losing his mind, and Arlen is the only thing keeping her together. I’m glad they’re working, but I still have the feeling there’s a looming betrayal. Leesha didn’t seem to have a lot to do in this story except be sad, so I hope she gets better next book. I do like Thamos, he seems nice, but I’m afraid to think that; the next book will probably focus on how he’s all screwed up inside.

The general lasciviousness in this book seems lower than the other books, which is good. There’s still too much sex and rape for my tastes, but at least there’s a lot more fading to black, and Leesha is being described without so much focus on her body. I’m still somewhat troubled by Krasian society and the casual way in which rape is treated (at one point, a character is described as having a habit of visiting another character’s home and raping the first daughter or wife he sees – how does that even work?!) But Krasian society is changing slowly, so that’s good, I guess.

I should probably say a bit about the present-day events – they did advance the plot, and we found out a lot more about demons through some demon PoVs. It took a backseat to the growth of the characters, though, and that was totally fine with me. I’m guessing a lot more will happen next book on that front – a lot of the things that did happen seemed like setup.

One last thing: beware the cliffhanger ending. Aside from that, it was a great book and I’m eagerly waiting for The Skull Throne.

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