The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

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HarperVoyager, 2013. ISBN 9780007276219.
(Age: Older teen or new adult) Recommended. Peter V. Brett has written a very clever and entertaining dystopian novel, where humans struggle in a harsh environment against demons learning how to survive and work together. Ultimately this is the story of how two civilizations, seemingly based on a Muslim and an early Judeo-Christian culture, fight against a common mindlessly evil culture.
The clash of the culture also revolves around the myths of the painted man and the warrior prince, whose stories we follow, as to who is the true redeemer. Is it Arlen Bales, the painted man, who shies away from the label of redeemer and rides with his promised Renna, or Jadir the great leader who has been groomed by his wife, priestess Inevera? We learn more of the story of these two men and their lovers, families and wives as they struggle for leadership of their tribal societies and seek the honour of leading the fight against, and defeating the demons. The story reaches a head with the battle against the demons at the fullest waxing of the moon. As the northern tribesman and the Krasari fight demons, their leaders meet secretly to battle for their honour, providing us with a stunning end to the novel.
In writing his story Brett creates two alternative visions of society and religion and invites the reader to make the obvious comparisons. He has written strong and interesting characters with interesting back stories and has made it very hard for the reader to come to any firm conclusion as to who should be the redeemer. He keeps us guessing to the end and maintains the suspense and the ambiguity of the reader's support to either man or his women or his cause.
I was not aware when I started reading The Daylight War that it was the third book in a series, following The Painted Man and The Desert Spear. I am happy to report that it is not necessary to read either of these novels to follow and enjoy this novel. This will be a welcome addition to the canon for many readers and I am sure it will also send many others back to read the earlier novels. The brilliant ending will ensure that Brett will retain his readership. This is for the older young adult or the new adult market and is recommended.
Michael Jongen

Editor's note: I have reviewed The painted man and thoroughly enjoyed it.