The Desert Prince
by Peter V. Brett
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Pub Date 3 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 1 Apr 2022
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction, HarperVoyager
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS....
They grew up in the shadow of heroes
Fifteen years have passed since the demons were destroyed. Heroes have become legend, and those that remain live in their shadows.
Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out. A steady march to succession choreographed by her mother. But Olive longs for freedom.
Darin is the son of the man who people say saved the world. But the only thing Darin has ever been good at is hiding.
But now it’s time to fight the darkness
When Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn that the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge.
Are Darin and Olive ready to be heroes?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 31 members
Firstly, thank you so much HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
For clarity, I haven’t read The Demon Cycle, so this was a whole new world to be me and definitely came in with a fresh perspective, no expectations, but was drawn in by the precis and the cover…I stayed for the story! I was immensely grateful for the glossary, it is holistic covering everything from social terms through to the Demons themselves, the wards and more. It really aided my entry into this pre-established world, and it mitigated my lack of awareness about a few of the larger characters from the previous series too. However, even without this I was able to pick up a large number of the terms as I read and my not reading the series previously didn’t ruin my enjoyment.
This book is definitely epic fantasy, it introduces us to a cast of characters, the progeny of key characters from the original Demon Cycle. The key protagonists are Olive, Princess of Hollow and only child of the Duchess Leesha Paper, and Darin, the son of Arlen who died a hero saving the world. The story is mainly told from their PoVs, giving a strong sense of who they believe they are, what they believe they have to live up to and most importantly what they want from life. We are also introduced to friends, family and those with whom they have grown up with in this world following the conclusion of the Demon Cycle and destruction of demons.
Peter V Brett writes in such a way that these characters leap from the page, they are young, daring, and unafraid of the consequences of their impulses and actions on many occasions…something that is definitely synonymous with youth, but who are also ready and willing to face those consequences. The exploration of gender identity and intersex that comes with this story was both unexpected and welcome, this was a key facet of the story and Brett did not shy away from it’s integration and from the challenges that it brings within societies; It was a most wonderful change from the norm of epic fantasy to see this topic normalised and a central theme within the story.
I could talk for hours about this book, I was engaged from page 1 and found the gradual development of pace and story to be well managed and ensured that as a reader I was immersed rather than drowning in information and background…and yes, I’ve given this 5 stars and will now be hunting out the books from the original Demon Cycle series to prep me for the next book in this series!
A new series from Peter V Brett set 15 years after the last Demon Cycle book, and the Demons have been destroyed.
In this book we follow Oliver Paper and Darin Bales as they try to live up to the expectations of their heroic parents in a new peaceful world. But the Demons have not gone and are biding their time, plotting revenge.
I absolutely loved this, it's a well constructed story with great characters, with very human flaws, and it was good to see some old favourite characters pop up from the first series.
A very satisfying read. Now I just have to wait 'patiently' for the next.
Thanks to Netgalley and Publisher for the ARC.
The Desert Prince
Thank you to Harper Collins and Netgalley for the ARC of The Desert Prince.
Ive tried to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, however if you haven’t read the Demon Cycle in completion and plan on reading this first (which I would not recommend) then some of the elements I discuss could be considered spoilers, in that case I would skip this review and instead just know that this book is amazing, you should add it to your TBR.
When we discuss Fantasy books the same titles and authors come up often, these people and stories hold their places in peoples hearts and at the forefront of people’s minds. But theirs one author that I don’t think is mentioned nearly enough and that’s Peter V Brett, the man behind the Demon Cycle. I would love to explain to you all the reasons I love the Demon Cycle series, all the elements that make it so exciting, but its been four years since I finished The Core, and my old man brain wouldn’t be able to pick out anything but the major plot points. However, I remember well enough to know that Brett manages to hit every nail on the head when it comes to the four main elements of Fantasy writing, Characters, Worldbuilding, Plot, and Prose, and he does all of these amazingly well.
The Desert Prince is no exception to this.
Honestly, this is Brett’s best book yet.
The Desert Prince is set fifteen years after the events of The Core, Arlen Bales, The Painted Man, is gone, and the Demons have been for the most part, wiped out. Our book focuses on two characters, our first being Darin Bales, the Son of Arlen, Son of the Deliverer, the legacy of his father hanging heavily on his shoulders as people hope that he will be the man his Father was. And second being Olive Paper, Princess of the Hollow, daughter to Leesha Paper, Duchess of Hollow County, different from her mother in a lot of ways, living a life of confliction and secrets and again with the expectation of greatness weighing heavily on their shoulders.
As I said, I genuinely believe that Brett is able to do everything right when it comes to writing, but in my opinion what he really excels in is his character building. The Demon Cycle would never have been the book it was without Brett’s ability to write rich and exciting characters. He writes characters you fall in love with and characters you want to hate but struggle too. He writes imperfect people with all the flaws of real humans, people that make numerous mistakes just like me and you, and even though he might have some of these characters become immensely powerful they are never overpowered, their humanity drags them down and their enemies always managing to surprise them.
Brett played into this strength with The Desert Prince, and he wrote two incredibly brilliant main characters. This book is a two person POV, which is only one over the perfect amount of POV characters to have in a book, and because of how much I loved both of them, I will allow it. Olive is clearly the star of the book and is our main protagonist, I would say around 80% of the book follows Olive’s story. For those who don’t remember from the first series, Olive was born intersex, Leesha believing Olive is able to both produce a baby and carry one themselves, the plot of the story heavily following the struggle to deal with Olives identity in the world she lives in, different aspects of her life expecting different versions of her, to the point she is never really allowed to choose for herself. As always Ive read a few reviews and saw a few people commenting on how they sometimes disliked how Olive reacted when she found out certain decisions made regarding her life, measures of control put in place and secrets kept from her. I think Brett did a fantastic job of writing a fifteen-year-old character that of course would not act logically, let their emotions speak for them and did not understand why those choices had been made even if technically they were the right thing to do.
“One day I will not be there to protect you, sister. Will you lay down and die?” The derision in her voice strikes harder than her kicks and punches. What was I apologising for? Not knowing secrets she made enormous effort to keep from me? Wanting a life of my own?”
Darin was a pure joy to read, as much as I loved Olive and her entire story, I’m devastated by how little page time he got. I’m not going to go into any great detail here, but Darin is beautifully written and feels so real, he’s perfect in the sense that we didn’t need another Arlen or someone that followed in his footsteps but instead needed something new and we got all of that with him yet gives us that gentle reminder of the character we loved the most in the previous series. Darin has so much promise and so much to give to this story, I love him.
“My name is Darin Bales, and everyone says my da saved the world. Its fine, I guess. He died before I was born so I don’t really miss him, and Ive no shortage of family—blood and otherwise.”
I want to point out how impressed I was with Brett’s writing regarding sexuality and same sex relationships. A book with an intersex main character isn’t something Ive read before (I don’t believe) and reading about the confusion and issues that someone who doesn’t understand their own sexuality goes through gave the book something so much more important than the usual issues we would experience in a classic Fantasy novel. And not to trivialise any of the issues that people who struggle with these issues face, but as someone that hasn’t had to face those struggles I felt I could experience that a little through Brett’s writing and help me as a person understand it a little more.
“We are what life makes us, sister,” Micha says. Again, that word, like a needle stuck through the heart of me. “Brother!” I snap, and it feels right. Micha is taken aback for a moment, but she takes a deep breath and immediately her tension eases. She Nods. “Brother. Forgive me if it takes some getting used to.” I’m so ready for a fight it takes me a moment for the concession to sink in.
The start of this book was honestly quite slow, and after years of peace why wouldn’t it be, the characters themselves had become older, fatter, and complacent and the book reflected that, but holy damn did it explode, Brett popped out from wherever he was hiding and after a powerful uppercut you suddenly know you aren’t in Kansas anymore. This book goes from strength to strength, Brett managing to build tension constantly, we go from scene to scene wondering what the hell will happen next. I burned through The Desert Prince in less than a week, which you may scoff at if you wish, for me these days managing to finish a book of this size in less than seven days is an achievement.
The Desert Prince is a book that demands you turn the page, a book that is unrelentless in its need for another chapter to be read. Brett is a master storyteller and knows how to punch you in the gut when it comes to torturing you with a masterfully woven plot and I can’t wait for the next instalment so I can feel it all over again.
Set fifteen years after the conclusion of the Demon Cycle, The Desert Prince follows the story of Olive Paper and Darin Bales, both shadowed by the legacy of their famous parents.
This book has been written with an eye towards new readers; the complex setting and back story are elucidated throughout the narrative. Although it isn’t strictly necessary to have read the Demon Cycle prior to approaching this novel, I personally would recommend doing so first. If nothing else, you’ll spoil the conclusion of the earlier series for yourself – the fates of all of the main characters in the earlier novels are referenced here.
The Desert Prince feels very different in tone to its predecessors. In part this is due to the writing style – the author uses first-person narration and the present tense throughout. Additionally, the fact that the story is told exclusively by two teenage protagonists throughout the book inevitably results in something of a YA feel – not necessarily a bad thing. The two leads in The Desert Prince are amongst Peter V Brett’s strongest characters; both are interesting, well-rounded, and (at least within the fiction I have read) remarkably unique.
If I have a quibble with this book it’s that the plot leans a little too heavily on the earlier Demon Cycle series. Nearly all of the characters here have very strong (usually familial) links to the protagonists of the earlier series and we don’t really visit any original locations of note. Presumably this will change in the two books to follow.
Fans of Peter V Brett will not be disappointed with this novel. Recommended.
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperVoyager for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I loved the original series. I waited (a long time) until it was complete before reading the whole story. After being burnt by series such as Game of throne/name of the wind/Scott Lynch's gentlemen Bast***s, I usually wait till a series ends before starting. Having enjoyed the original series so much, I took a gamble.
Set 15 years after the first series, the new protagonists are the children, Olive and Darin. They have a troubled existence, suffocated by the shadow of their parent's glory; they struggle to find their place and purpose in the world. Teenage self-doubt and inner turmoil take a back seat as Olive becomes kidnapped, and the story starts in earnest.
You should read The Demon Cycle first. Honestly, I needed to read a synopsis despite having read The Demon Cycle. It's been so long.
I loved this book; my only regret is how long it will be till the next book.
Fans of the Demon Cycle should buy this at once. Anyone wanting to read a fantastic fantasy series should buy the Demon Cycle first.
Ok I have to start by saying that I have not read the preceding trilogy the Demon Cycle but now I really want to ! This book is set fifteen years after the parents of Olive and her friend Darin succeeded in taking down the Demons that had plagued the world. Yes a few stragglers escaped but the legends of what these people achieved elevates them in everyone's eyes and indeed hearts. So you can imagine how difficult it is for their children to live within their shadows.
Our story begins with Olive desperately wanting to be treated like everyone else but she's cosseted, protected and frankly stifled. Darin might have a more relaxed and normal life than Olive but he is full of self doubt and occasionally even self loathing. Yet Darin has amazing abilities that to be blunt took this reader a while to fully understand but when I did wow now thats someone who should stand proud. When Olive is kidnapped the story truly becomes something that is mind blowing with jealousy, greed and vile machinations in play. Forced to face her innermost fears Olive rises to become more than a pampered Princess but the deceit and lies that lie behind her are nothing compared to what she will now face !
Oo this was so good with a pace that just kept building. The author gives us a story of adversity and courage but also one of manipulation and pain. I loved Olive and the progression of this characters sexuality felt relevant. Perhaps not precisely hermaphrodite but certainly Olive is finding a way to not only live in the circumstances forced their way but to thrive.
There is without a doubt way more here about Olive but fear not Darin steps up to follow his friend along with Selen and this was a wee bit confusing. Selen is a similar age to Olive but is her aunt. Plus we get Micha who is Olives Nanny and also her sister ! Yes I know this has an Arabian sort of feel with desert and palaces but learning Olives very absent father has seventy children was a tad disconcerting. I do feel that perhaps these tangled family dynamics might have been easier to understand more quickly if I had already read the Demon Cycle series . However I can honestly say that apart from initially metaphorically scratching my head it didn't ruin my enjoyment one iota. I had fun reading this and honestly didn't want to put it down. Yes I recommend it and yes I'm definitely off to buy more books from this new to me author .
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Well, this is a pretty special review for me, those of you who don't know, @pvbrett
Holds a very special place for me, the Painted man was the first fantasy book I ever read and the demon cycle, one of my favourite series. This is also my first Net Galley book review, so thank you for giving me that opportunity.
Now, onto the book itself, picking up 15 years after the events of book 5 : The Core, we are reintroduced to olive paper, the intersex child of the self proclaimed deliverer Ahmann Jardir and Leesha Paper, and Darin Bales, son of Renna and Arlen. Living a protected life in their home towns, safe from wandering demons that survived Arlens purge decades previous. The book starts with an excellent introduction to characters both old and new, I immediately felt at home here. The familiar warmth of the language Brett uses eases both new and old readers into what quickly becomes the kind of story we all know and love. There was a feeling of pride at times, listening to the younger, newer cast talking about tales of the great deliverer, banishing demons with awesome powers, assuming they're exaggerated, knowing from reading the previous they werent, that all those things happened and you witnessed it first hand.
The pace picks up fairly quick, and we're thrown back into the familiar depth of the Demon infested world, and Krasian lore (the bulk of this novel is set in Krasia, with the Majah tribe as they struggle to combat a fresh wave of surviving demons who seem much smarter, and more adaptable than ever before), as olive struggles to find identity and place in the world.
The character development for him/her is incredible , Darins development moves a bit slower here, but their struggles both mirror and compliment each other, and the glimmers of their parents greatness shine through at numerous points. Then we move onto the supporting characters, who seamlessly fit into this story from page one, adding some much appreciated wit and banter to otherwise serious issues and dialogue, it breaks the tension when necessary, and I can confidently say every new character introduced in this series stood out and added to the overall experience.
And as always Brett's written action sequences are second to none, both human to human and human to demon alike, the intensity is still unlike anything I've read. Extended battle scenes that so accurately detail the high level of skill needed to take down a demon always brings you back to the realisation of the threat they bring. Blink and you could be in trouble.
This book was amazing, it made me appreciate the original series even more, Brett has elevated an already fantastic world, capturing what made the demon cycle such an epic tale, while taking the story leaps and bounds further and upping the intensity. The tide has shifted in the 15 years since the core, and what seemed like a safer world, may now be looking at a world even more dangerous than what demons, queen's and minds roamed freely. The demons are back, and they're not the same mindless drones they were before, their leader has a grudge, and he intends to see it through.
I cannot wait to see where this trilogy goes, and see what becomes of Oliver Darin, Selen, and the rest of these characters
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