The Daylight War - Peter V. Brett Just a heads up: this review will contain some spoilers for the previous two books in the Demon Cycle series, but I would assume if you haven't read them already you wouldn't have made it this far to the third installment.

The nightly battle against the demons of the core continues in The Daylight War. With the appearance of the more intelligent mind demons and their mimics from the last book, humanity now prepares for the new moon when the powerful Princes will return again with their hordes rising in full force. It's been a long time since I read The Desert Spear, but it appears this book picks up right where the last one left off, or at least very close to it.

Two separate storylines unfold in the north and in the south. Skin adorned with wards, Arlen Bales AKA the Painted/Warded Man and his fiancee Renna Tanner have become stronger and more adept at killing demons. The two make their way to Deliver's Hollow to aid in the coming fight, training villagers and fortifying the town.

At the same time in Everam's Bounty, Ahmann Jardir has proclaimed himself the Deliverer, the hero who will unify the people of the world to defeat and drive back the demons once and for all. His first wife the crafty and cunning high priestess Inevera plots his rise from behind the scenes, consulting her demon bone dice to catch glimpses of the future. Meanwhile, the desert tribes of Krasia continue to invade and conquer the green lands, forcing their way of life upon the locals and drafting fighting men for their army.

Once the two men fought side by side as brothers, until Jardir's betrayal and his attempt to kill Arlen. Now they must find a way to settle the score between them, or let the demons of the core consume the world and everything in it.

I didn't realize until halfway through this book, when most of the memories began leaking back, that so much of The Daylight War was the retelling of the first third of The Desert Spear, except we are taken through the events from another point of view -- Inevera's. This is "her" book, just like the previous one was Jardir's. We see her rise from humble beginnings as a basket weaver's daughter to become the most powerful priestess in Krasia and the wife of the Shar'Dama Ka.

A lot of Jardir's back story is intertwined with Inevera's, so while this made for a nice recap for those of us who have forgotten a lot of the finer details from the previous books, if that section from The Desert Spear is still fresh on your mind the first half of The Daylight War might feel like retreading of old ground.

I think Peter V. Brett's focus on the these two characters is part of a plan to give the reader a deeper understanding of the "bad guys" in this series. I'm always appreciative when that happens as not too many authors do this. I'm not sure of its effectiveness in this case, though. Indeed, the Krasians have a convoluted culture with ulterior motives all around, so any and all descriptions are welcome. However, I personally still consider them the villains; despite certain attempts to make them more sympathetic in our eyes, I can't forgive Jardir for his betrayal. Even now I have trouble coming to terms with Jardir having "good intentions" as every character including Arlen in the book says.

The fact everyone is a hot-tempered "frenemy" in their culture with nobody seeming to trust or truly respect each other is another reason I feel this way. Very often the Krasian characters, especially the minor ones, come off like caricatures and feeling flat, like they are following a script with all their actions and dialogue being very predictable.

Still, even though I was not a fan of the focus on Jardir at all in the second book, I have to say I enjoyed Inevera's version a lot more. While she is not particularly likeable, I do find her character interesting and she seems far more complex than Jardir. The manipulations and rivalry between the priestesses-in-training also makes the dynamics between her and the female tribe members so much more fun to read than the tiresome testosterone-fueled posturing of the male warriors from Jardir's story.

Things started picking up for me about two-thirds through the book. Here, there seemed to be an abrupt change in direction in the story, with the focus on personal relationships -- except done in the manner of daytime soap operas, concerning questions regarding things like petty jealousies and who-slept-with-whom. I have to say it was a strange little detour from all the demon fighting, but I am also a little embarrassed to admit that I ate up this part like candy. There is something to be said for throwing in a few scandalous bits to break up the monotony.

Then there was the last 25% or so of the novel. Here, the plot really took off, culminating into the climax and the final showdown during the new moon. After this point, the action does not stop. We get not one but two accounts of the events, one in Deliverer's Hollow and the other in Everam's Bounty, since the both Jardir's and Arlen's stories are happening concurrently. After all, so much of The Daylight War dealt with the theme of "counterparts", the duality of friend vs. foe. This concept comes up time and time again; in many ways, it is what ties everything in this book together.

So does an amazing conclusion make up for the rest of this book, which I thought hovered from merely mediocre to pretty decent? I suppose it does. For what it's worth, I remember feeling much the same way about The Desert Spear, but I ended up liking The Daylight War more by far. I've discovered that Brett has a knack for writing incredible endings, making you want to pick up the next book right away, especially given what happens here in the final few pages.

In retrospect, I should have seen the cliffhanger coming, but it was still a shock when the book ended. So many emotions flooded me in that one moment, the most powerful of which was an indignant rage that things should end this way, but also at the same time, a deep respect for Peter V. Brett that he was able to close off this third installment with a bang. I will absolutely be picking up the next book, and I am looking forward to it.