It has been some time since I finished listening to Peter Brett’s The Painted Man, so it’s about time that I shared my review of this audiobook! I listened to this back in May/June this year. I started with some mixed feelings, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It grew on me the more I listened to it and the story progressed.
The Painted Man – Peter Brett
As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.
I really enjoyed this audiobook overall, but I do confess that I found the beginning slow. The early chapters of the book introduce Arlen, Leesha and Rojer and their respective lives in the small towns of their birth. The reason I found the book slow-going is because each character perspective reiterates the same idea for each of these individuals (okay, in slightly different ways), but we’re basically told the same thing three times. This took at least a few hours to set the scene (and set it again, and again…), so I think it makes up the first 20% of the book.
What do we learn from that first 20%? Humans are dependent on magical wards to protect them from dark creatures, known as corelings at night. Those who live in the small towns and outskirts of the cities have primitive technology. Disaster lies only around the corner for them. And finally, humans are as good as enslaved by their fear.
Then Arlen decides to do something about it and the whole book significantly improves from there. He has seen the devastation these beasts can cause but seeks to find a way to fight back. Arlen is the most developed character of the book, followed by Leesha. Unfortunately, Rojer felt like a late and underdeveloped addition. I wanted a little more from him to balance the story out.
I really enjoyed the concept of the magic and the wards to protect, or fight, against the corelings. It’s only a simple one, but it was executed well. There is sufficient development from the fear-ridden society present at the start of the book, both sufficient to pad out the storyline of the Painted Man, but also to lay the foundations for the remainder of the series.
Despite the slow start I will continue with the series. I think there is a lot of potential to explore the vast world constructed in The Painted Man even more, which the second book seems to do.