Saturday, March 28, 2009

New This Month: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

One of the things you hear from new writers is how they’d have X number of novels inside them, if only they could find the time. But time is one of those funny things. Sometimes, the more you squeeze it, the more seems to pop out. At least, so it seems, because there are an awful lot of extraordinary time-squeezing stories in the publishing world.

The latest of these belongs to Peter V. Brett, long-time rider of the F train from Brooklyn to Times Square. It was on this daily commute that Brett wrote 90 per cent of The Warded Man (Del Rey), the first novel in a series so vast, so sweeping, it’s difficult to comprehend that it was composed mostly on the subway, a realm as far from that as inhabited by the legendary demon-fighter, the Warded Man, as can be imagined. Oh: and I did not mention, Brett accomplished this amazing feat while thumb-typing. That’s right: The Warded Man was composed on a Blackberry. The mind reels.

These are the things you think about as you begin The Warded Man. You don’t stay there long, though. While the Publishers Weekly review was a little simplistic, it did point at one of the things I really like about The Warded Man. While it’s not strictly true that “Brett’s gritty tale will appeal to those who tire of sympathetic villains and long for old-school orc massacres” it’s true enough to get to the heart of the matter. This is old-school storytelling, plain and simple. Brett’s characters grapple with issues of morality, with black and white, right and wrong. In the process, a lot of evil stuff gets dispatched. Quite often, there is blood involved.

This is hearty, muscular fare. There is no formula here and little to remind you of other writers. Brett has found his own way to his own world, on the F train. We’re glad to be along for the ride.

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