This review does contain some spoilers for The Warded Man and should be read with caution if you plan on reading Peter V. Brett’s debut novel first.
Remember The Matrix?
If you’re visiting a website dedicated to Speculative Fiction, chances are that you’ve seen The Matrix at least once. If you have, do you remember that final scene where Neo walks out of a phone booth and flies off like Superman? If you’re anything like me, you probably thought something along the lines of “Oh my God! He’s like Superman! He’s invincible! A sequel will be so awesome!”
Ignoring the fact that the sequels to The Matrix weren’t awesome at all, this was exactly the feeling I had at the end of The Warded Man, Brett’s first novel in the Demon Cycle. The book had these amazing villains in the form of indestructible demons and the protagonists fought them out of sheer stubbornness, even if it meant fighting a fight they could not win. Those fighting sequences were perfectly written and turned the book into a definite page-turner.
At the end, though, Arlen had found a way to gain the upper hand over the demons. Though the sequel The Desert Spear was still awesome for many different reasons, those fighting scenes that made The Warded Man so special to me were forever lost.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fear no more! For now, there is Brayan’s Gold, a 94-page novella that takes place during the early days of The Warded Man, when Arlen was still that sweet young kid wanting to fight those big bad demons. And how amazing those fights are. I wish he would never grow up!
Brayan’s Gold details Arlen’s first trip as an apprentice Messenger. Wearing his brand new armor, he leaves on a simple overnight trip alongside a trained Messenger to carry a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine high up the frozen mountainside. However, a routine trip soon turns into a huge adventure when bandits try to rob the two Messengers and Arlen soon finds himself on the road alone, fighting demons like The Desert Spear never happened (wait, it hasn’t yet!).
Exactly what I want!
This story has all the elements a fan of Brett’s series will enjoy. It is exactly what I want from a novella set in the Demon World, bringing back all the old elements I loved so much in The Warded Man, as well as providing a new piece of the story and a completely new and pretty cool (pun intended) snow demon. The characters are well-written as usual, the prose touches all the right notes, and the pacing is exactly what we’re used to: breathtaking.
Why should you read this book?
Such a small novella, priced rather high – and worth the cost, in my opinion; the art inside is gorgeous! – is only really accessible to fans of the series, however. If you’re new to Brett’s work, I suggest you start with The Warded Man. If you are already a fan, though, Brayan’s Gold is a must read. The only downside is the size; I wish it would go on for another five hundred pages.