The Core – Peter V. Brett

Deer Reeder,

Hard back edition, front cover on left and inside cover on right

God, it has been a long time since I have written one of these. Too long in fact. I knew this would happen once I started uni again, I’ve just had no time to read! *sighs and looks away from the mountain of assignment briefs nearby…*

Anyway, enough of the woes and on with the book reviewing.

So, The Core by Peter V. Brett. What can I say apart from at last and about time! I’ve waited for the finale to the Demon Cycle series for around two years now, but it was worth this wait. The book starts slowly, re-enveloping you into this fantasy world and ends like Usain Bolt running the 100 metres. I know its not always best to review the last book in a series, but I read the first one many moons ago, so I promise to avoid spoilers where I can.

For those not in the know, the series are set in what seems to be our future but without any of that high-tech business. Instead, it’s as if you’ve stepped back in time to bows and arrows, horses and carts, due to demons destroying the world as we know it. Its clever because you don’t initially realise this until acknowledgments are made about the fall of a previous civilisation, where roads were made of solid black (tarmac) and they had heavy machinery and technology. So, basically describing our everyday surroundings right now. I like this spin on the future, its unexpected and makes you think.

Within this world are two types of people, the Greenlanders in the north of Thesa and the Krasian’s who live in the desert. One of the things I loved most about this series is that Brett parallels real cultural beliefs and customs, and effortlessly mixes it in with fantasy. What is cleaver is that the Greenlanders appear to be a representation of the West, while the Krasian’s are a mixture of the Middle East and Asia. Brett captures the current tensions we see today and in the past intertwining them within his narrative. He highlights how both have the same goal, to defeat the demons, but their cultures are so different that they are almost blind to this fact.

Thesa, where the whole series is set (click here for photo source).

Also, Brett explores the concept of religion in an intriguing depth that really allows you to connect with his characters. The Creator and Everam are basically the same god but, as with all things, they are called different names, so the rivalling people do not believe that they are the same thing and therefore end up arguing over the same concepts instead of working together (sound familiar….?). This highlights how sometimes pride and belief can actually get in the way of finding peace. To add to this, one of the main characters, Arlen, is an atheist who picks apart the pettiness of unnecessary religious statements and rituals, constantly bringing back the attention to defeating the demons.

The theme of religion hits its climax in this book for, the very nature of whether a god actually exists, is continuously questioned. Jardir, who has let religion define his life slowly doubts its existence while, Arlen starts to believe all is maybe not as he first perceived. Very rarely do you find yourself in life being able to listen to the inner dialogue of two men with opposing views who also respect the other persons view as well.

A question still left unanswered….

Who is the deliverer (The deliverer being the person who brings back powerful combat wards that can kill demons and therefore save humanity)? This never gets fully answered and I’m glad for that. Brett makes you question your perceptions constantly, especially with the Consorts (demon king’s) thoughts and feelings which are far detached from that of a human. In this book you finally begin to understand the psychology of the demons (don’t worry, you don’t begin to feel sympathetic).

Arlen & Jardir (click here for photo source).

The complexity to Brett’s characters, them being neither good nor bad, leaves it up to the reader to decide who they really route for. For example, it has always made me laugh that my brother, Jake, and I have contrasting opinions about the two protagonists due to reading the first two books in different orders. Jake read The Desert Spear first and therefore sees Jardir as the rightful deliverer and his favourite character. Meanwhile I read them in the correct order starting with The Painted Man and so love Arlen. It is a little bit more black and white with the supporting cast but still, due to the shear detail Brett pours into his character descriptions the true complexities of human emotions can be experienced throughout the series.

Did I find the ending satisfying? No of course not! It didn’t end like I wanted it to (don’t worry I won’t tell you what happened). However, its ending was no less appropriate with tensions running high and foreboding clouding over the pages.

As you probably guessed by this super long review (sorry but I had so much to say and still have more in reserve), I loved this book and consider the Demon Cycle to be in my top best fantasy series. The themes with their real-life parallels leave you constantly thinking, resulting in a more realistic, but no less creative narrative within this mini world.

Recommendations. So, of course I would say read the previous four books before tackling this one: The Painted Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War and The Skull Throne. Despite never having read them (a crime I know) but I’ve seen the films, The Lord of The Rings would be a good shout as a similar option. Also, Robin Hobb’s Elderling Realm Chronicles may also be worth a shout (read this previous review – Assassin’s Fate – to find out if its your cup of tea).

Here are the rest of the series (source of photo click here) -The End-

A demon reading a book feature image click here for photo source.

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