Arlen/The Painted Man, Leesha, Rojer
I was suggested this book a while ago by Billy who is a follower on my Facebook page. He said that since I’m such a fan of Mark Lawrence’s epic fantasy books that I would probably love this novel. I decided to take his advice and download this book as my free credit on Audible.
Now I have to say that as an audiobook I really didn't like this book. I think this was down to the narrator- Peter Joyce. Now don’t get me wrong, Joyce did have a great voice for narrating a fantasy novel, it was eerie and slightly dark which fit in with the atmosphere of the novel perfectly. However, when it came to acting the characters’ voices, they were somewhat… random. In a village that is populated by a few hundred people there was English, Irish, American and German accents and many of the men in the novel always sounded like they were out of breath? I just thought this let the audiobook down a little. Plus, the audio quality wasn’t that great and it made me glad I hadn’t paid for the download. Nevertheless, I did finish listening to the audiobook in about two weeks which I think shows how good the actual novel was!
The novel takes place in Thesa, a world of magic and ancient legends. By day, the inhabitants of Thesa are driven hard to scratch a meagre living out of the earth and by night are tormented by the evil Corelings. Corelings are magical demons that appear every night to hunt humans. The Corelings come in many different forms such as fire, wood, wind and rock and the only thing that protects humans from the demons are magical ‘Wards’. Wards are painted over door frames and on walls to stop demons getting into houses. However, many of the secrets of Wards have been lost over the centuries and many humans are killed nightly because their Wards are not strong enough.
Out of this terrible world, three stories emerge. The first is that of Arlen who is a very skilled Warder, even though he is still a young boy. After the death of his mother at the hands of a Coreling, Arlen runs away from home. He vows that he will fight the demons one day and to do this he becomes an apprentice warder. With his new profession Arlen hopes that these new skills will help him become a ‘Messenger' and ultimately, help him kill Corelings.
Leesha is a young girl who is abused by her mother and told that she will never become something. However, after a Coreling attack, she finds herself helping the local Herb-gatherer Bruna. Bruna sticks up for Leesha and takes her on as an apprentice, teaching her secrets that many healers have forgotten. After seven years, Leesha finishes her apprenticeship and travels to the city to further her knowledge about the art of herb gathering. After spending a few years in the city, Leesha hears of a flux that is affecting her home village of Cutter’s Hollow and returns as quickly as she is able, with a Jangler called Rojer.
Rojer, like Arlen, is the victim of a savage Coreling attack in which his mother and his father are murdered and in which Rojer loses some fingers to a Coreling’s bite! Rojer is taken in by a famous Jangler called Arrick who agrees to raise Rojer after the murder of his parents. However, because of his weakened hand, Rojer is seen as a poor Jangler as he cannot juggle. However, his skills with a fiddle gain him recognition and even gain him the nickname of Rojer ‘Half-grip’. His skills are so great that when on the road between the hamlets and the city, Rojer’s fiddling even manages to calm Corelings. Unfortunately, on this same trip, Rojer’s mentor is clawed by Corelings, forcing him to return to the city in which he meets Leesha and agrees to travel with her to Cutter’s Hollow.
This was a good novel and I really enjoyed it. It did start a little slow for me and I don’t think it really picked up until ‘The Painted Man’ was introduced. Nevertheless, from then on is really fast-paced, action filled and exciting! I can’t wait to read the second book in the series The Desert Spear, however, I think I will actually read that book instead of listening to it as an audiobook.
I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan on fantasy novels such as The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Prince of Thorns by Marl Lawrence or It Began with Ashes by D. E. M. Emrys as they all have the same fantasy feel to them and they are all great books!
For author’s official website click here.