The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

First, the horribly truncated summary: The only other time when putting a tattoo on your face is a good life decision.

I don’t consider the above a spoiler because the title spoiled it for you. Now, in the Commonwealth countries, I’m led to believe that this book is called The Painted Man. Not certain if this change was publisher-based or legal-based, but I wonder which title came first.

I am surprised in the lack of tattoos in Fantasy literature. There should be more, but I’ve either failed to remember them or not come across them yet.

Any memorable fantasy tattoos out there? Post them to comments. (I now have this book and the Kushiel books)

Oh, the book. The world is a place where people fear the setting sun (*cough* Thenightisdarkandfullofterrors *cough*). Demons come out of the earth at night and feast on human flesh. The only thing keeping people safe is wards they’ve rediscovered from a long-dead past. People paint wards on posts and walls to keep their homes safe in the night. However, sometimes the wards become scuffed and marred (or are drawn imperfectly or out of alignment with the other wards) and the demons are able to move past them.

It’s a problem that strangles travel and trade. People live in fear within prisons of their own making. Only the bravest travel at night, using portable wards to keep the demons at bay.

The book has three separate protagonists: Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer, each talented in their own way. Arlen is gifted with drawing wards (if you weren’t spoiled before, you need only see his chapter headers), Leesha with herbalism/biology, and Rojer with music. Can anyone say adventuring party?

Unlike most adventuring parties (you all meet in a tavern), the protagonists don’t meet up until 74% into the book. Why so precise? Kindle. You have a lot of book to go through before you come to the action. It makes for great backstory and the characters seem real, but waiting for them to grow up is tedious. Worth it (really worth it), but tedious. You also get a few surprises in the mix as the characters deal with basic human nature, which is also refreshing.

In fact, the payoff is so awesome that I’m debating giving this book 5-stars. I think I will. I can’t lower the score on this book for slow backstory and give Kushiel’s Dart and A Game of Thrones 5-stars. I’m looking forward to checking out the next two books in this (unfinished) series.

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