6 Rated Books Book Reviews

Book Review: The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett

Title: The Painted Man (UK) / The Warded Man (US)

Author: Peter V. Brett

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: HarperVoyager (UK) / Del Rey (US)
Publishing Date: April 2, 2009 (UK) / March 10, 2009 (US)
Paperback560 pages (UK) / Hardcover: 432 pages (US)

Stand Alone or series: Book one in the Demon Trilogy

Why did I read the book: This book received nothing but good reviews and praise from pretty much all fantasy blogs.

Summary: Mankind has ceded the night to the corelings: demons that rise up out of the ground each day at dusk‚ killing and destroying at will until dawn‚ when the sun banishes them back to the Core. As darkness falls‚ the world?s few surviving humans hide behind magical wards‚ praying that the magic will see them through another night.

As years passed‚ the distance between each tiny village stretched farther and farther. It seems that nothing can stop or harm the corelings‚ and nothing can unite the dwindling populations.

Born into these isolated hamlets are three children: A Messenger teaches 10?year?old Arlen that it is fear‚ rather than the demons‚ which has crippled humanity. When she is only 13 summers old‚ Leesha?s perfect life is destroyed by a simple lie‚ and she is reduced to gathering herbs for an old woman more fearsome than the demons at night. And young Rojer?s life is changed irrevocably when a travelling minstrel comes to his town and plays his fiddle.

But these three children all have something in common. They are all stubborn‚ and know that there is more to the world than what they?ve been told‚ if only they can risk leaving their safe wards to find it.


A long, long time ago, in the Age of Ignorance, humanity shared the world with demons that rise form the ground (or the core) in the night time. Because they did not know how to fight them , humanity would build things in the day only to see them destroyed in the night. Until one day, humans discovered writing and with writing came the knowledge that Wards could keep the demons away. Until someone one day discovered that wards could be for attacking, not only for protection and the war against the demons turned furious. Then, came a man known as The Deliverer, sent by the Creator and with him to lead humans, they started to win the war. Demons went away and humanity progressed. Then came the Age of Science, and humans lived in big cities and knew about medicine and machines but they forgot all about the magic that would protect them from the demons. Then, the demons returned and all the great nations fell, cities burned, people went back to living off farming in small hamlets. Only a few people knew about Wards and only the ones for protection. Now, years later, humans live in fear, hiding when the night fall as they wait for the Deliverer to return once more.

It’s 319 A.R (After the Return) and 11 year Arlen is a boy living with his family in a small hamlet called Tibbet’s Brook. Night after night, he and his family hide away from demons but they keep coming and people keep on dying when their Wards don’t work. When tragedy strikes his own family, Arlen says NO MORE. He has a special gift for Warding and that gives him strength to go away and follow his own path, imbued with the need to fight, not hide.

13 year old Leesha has her life pretty much set: she is going to inherit her father’s business and get married soon to her promised fiancée. But a lie and the actions of her slutty mother change her mind and she becomes an Herb Gatherer’s apprentice.

Rojer is only 3 years old when his own family is decimated by demons – henceforth, corelings – and he is taken by a Jongleur who becomes his master and father figure. Rojer has a gift for music and the music he makes is a surprising weapon against the corelings.

These three are the three main characters in The Painted Man and their stories run in parallel as we follow their coming of age tales. From children to young adults, Arlen, Leesha and Rojer represent each on his own way, humanity’s promise of a future without the corelings. All of them are stereotypical Fantasy characters, the embodiment of the Hero, the Wise Woman and the Jongleur (or sidekick) all with dark, tragic events in their past that shape and move them.

When they finally meet, close to the end of the novel, all pieces come together as their strength and gifts combined are the most effective way of fighting corelings. But that does not come with easily, nor does their journey to adulthood is an easy one – all of them lose something precious on the way and all of them make costly decisions.

The Painted Man is in its core (no pun intended) a character piece whilst the three protagonists discover their roles in life. And as such, the novel is a strong, effective story even if fairly within the staple fare of Fantasy.

The concept of corelings that rise in the night and attack humans who hide behind Wards; the Messengers who are the only ones who dare to cross the distances to bring messages and goods for exchange and are always accompanied by a Jongleur are what make the book unique in my opinion and the fact that there is an interesting world building around the premise and how the characters each react to their reality in different ways but all reach the same conclusion : to fight or to die.

However, for all its strengths, the novel is a strange mix of clear and vague.

The description of the day-to-day life in the hamlets and in the few remaining big cities with their guilds, political system and stratified society are extremely rich and vivid- reminiscent of a Medieval society, all the more pungent for its contrast to what once was.

But there quite a few things that are extremely vague. There is a religious system that reminds of Christian beliefs but it’s not very clear if it is so. The Wards and how they work are never truly explained and the corelings themselves don’t come with a detailed description. To the point where the strange meanders of my mind made me wonder about hidden messages: the corelings rise from the ground and they are listed as Wood, Wind, Fire, Rock demons. Is this nature rising from the ground to punish humans for their scientific progress and lack of concern for the Old Ways? Is the author making a statement: progress = bad. Nature = good. And if you don’t pay attention to nature it will come back to bite you in the ass? If so, I am afraid to say, Al Gore does a better job at it. In any case, this is the conspiracy theorist in me showing its ugly head and this impression of mine, is in no way indicative of the quality of the novel or the writing.

But the way women are portrayed, is. In this world, they actually are rather empowered. The most powerful women are the Herb Gatherers (because of their curative gifts – but most of them if not all, are single women with no family) OR they are respected mostly when they are Mothers. Because you know, the human race is disappearing and they must make babies. In the big cities, the women who are Mothers are actually VERY powerful. Even in the hamlets they have some power. HOWEVER most of the women we get to know more closely are either devastated because they are not Mothers (which is ok, it makes sense within the confines of the world building) , are dead or are cheating sluts.

Why can’t women be empowered and strong without either being whores, dead or bent on being virgins? What’s wrong with being strong AND liking sex without being cheating sluts? I fully understand that this portrayal is standard fantasy fare and in all honesty, I was even able to let it go after breathing in and out for a couple of times but mostly because the story diverges from these descriptions at one point.

Then the main female character ,Leesha, who is a herb gatherer who has kept her “flower” (yes, he uses the word flower) because it is a matter of honor but also because she wants to choose, is raped by three robbers, one of them a giant mute who is really abusive. It is a horrible situation, she is beaten, raped, left in a near catatonic state -emotionally and physically devastated. Then one of the two male protagonists somewhat rescues her and in less than one week she is ok, so ok as to all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, she wants to have sex with him. She never wanted to have sex with no one to that point, but then she decides it is ok now because he is the hero? I hardly think a woman would recover this fast and be ready (physically: as in REALLY wet. I am not going to say anything about being emotionally ready) to have sex with a stranger no matter how much she feels connected to him. Sorry, I just don’t believe it would happen this way. Yes, it is fantasy, but the woman is still a human. This was almost a deal breaker for me as I tend to take this issue VERY seriously.

Having said that, it is testament to the strengths of the novel, that it wasn’t a deal breaker.

Still, for all the rave reviews The Painted Man received all over the blogs, I expected a lot more. I was not awed by it as I hoped to be. It is a good debut novel with interesting premise, solid character building and cool action sequences. But is also clearly a “first in a series” as the story in here is set up for things to come. There is a smallish cliffhanger in the end that makes me want to read the next one as soon as it comes out but The Painted Man unfortunately is not the best thing since sliced bread.

Notable Quotes/ Parts: I really liked the fighting scenes and how wonderfully DANGEROUS they were. People stood to lose a lot when fighting corelings and not once does the author back away from this reality.

Verdict: Good debut with a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Rating: 6 Good

Reading Next: I feel like reading another debut fantasy novel which received a lot a praise last year just to see how it compares to The Painted Man. Next, I am reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.


  • edifanob
    April 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    I finished the book today and to be honest the story sucked me in.

    Women are the only human beings who can give birth to a child. What do you expect from women in world where every night die a lot of people? How can a race survive without offspring?
    As far as I understood there are also possibilities for women in addition to bear childs. And please don’t forget the role women played in the battle at Cutter’s Hollow.

    I’m a man. That means I never can really relive a rape of a woman.
    But for me it was in some way understandable why Leesha wanted to have sex with Arlen. On one hand she was devastated and alone. On the other hand Arlen – don’t want to spoil about his condition.
    He was a kind of hope for her.

    You wrote a lot about the women in the book but I didn’t find a word about the women in the Krasian society.

    In the end THE PAINTED MAN was a strong debut for me and I can’t wait to read the sequel THE DESERT SPEAR

    Beside this I can definiteley recommend The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It was one of my favorite reads in 2008.

  • Ana
    April 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Edifanob

    Thanks for the comment, I was hoping to have someone to talk to about the book. 😀

    You make some good points.

    Yes, women are the only human beings that can give birth to a child but the child’s conception does not happen without a man. To have women being important solely for their wombs do annoy me. I did mention that there were other possibilities for women in this world but it does not negate the fact that all women here are either Mothers or Daughters. Of course, I can’t forget the role women played in the final battle but it was a first not only for women but for all of them: men and women alike. So in that final scene is not really about gender.

    I toyed with the idea of mentioning the Krasian society and not only the women’s role in it but their religious beliefs as well. But I was already over 1500 words in my review not to mention the fact that I felt it would be like opening a can of worms and let’s leave it at that? I am sure you understand what I mean….

    With regards to Leesha and Arlen – yes I can understand how she would relate to Arlen and how he would relate to her. Yes, he represented hope. But I can’t forget two facts. 1) what had just happened to her 2) the fact that her first reaction to him was of EXTREME fear. When you combine both it sounds extremely unlikely to me that a woman, any woman, would jump into a sexual relationship. It would have been so much more realistic and interesting if things had progressed slowly.

    I will definitely read the sequel. Now I must know about the Deliverer. 😉

    And I am starting the Name of the Wind tonight!

  • orannia
    April 11, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Hmmm. Thank you so much for the review Ana. I’m torn now…after reading the first half of your review I was eager to pick up the book….now that I’ve read the whole review I’m not so sure.

    As for what happens to Leesha…hmmmmm.

    I find it interesting that female characters seem to fall at one end of the spectrum or the other…what happened to the middle ground?

  • Ana
    April 11, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Orannia, if it helps: the rape scene is not graphic, it is mostly referred to after the fact. It is the description of how she was left and the fact that we know how important her virginity was to her that makes her miraculous recovery in a matter of days all the more unbelieavable. I thought the author lacked thoughtful attention to a VERY serious matter. Rape in novels is something that I do not take lightly and the way it is handled by the writer can be a deal breaker to me.

    In any case, it happens at the end of the novel and I fully understand that not everybody would have the same issues. I suspect most women would though. So really, it’s up to you and how you think you would react.

  • Ana
    April 11, 2009 at 2:45 am

    I just thought about another book we both read not long ago that also figured a rape: Melusine. Do you remember how Felix still suffers because of it, one YEAR later? AND he was no virgin and had S/M tendencies. He could’t even have sex with the man he loved months later.

    THAT was skillfuly written by Sarah Monette. I would expect no less.

  • edifanob
    April 11, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Ana, I really appreciate your review and your answer to my comment. And of course it is a lot more interesting to talk about a book.

    To be honest I had a discussion with my wife after I told her about the book, your review and my comment. She told me that from her point of view you are right concerning your comment about Leesha’s wish to have sex with Arlen.
    Anyway the author chose a society dominated by men.Maybe it would have been more interesting when he chose a matriarchy. And how different would be the book when we would get a PAINTED WOMAN instead of a PAINTED MAN?

    Anyway I agree that the Krasian society and their religion is a topic on his own. When I read the passages about the Krasian’s I thought immediately of a muslim society.

    Orannia, please read the book. Whatever you think about rape – I think Ana explained that it isn’t described explicitly – the book is still a great read.

    I’m from Germany and there is one thing which I don’t understand when I read reviews and comments on blogs from United States. You can write about violence – extreme violence – and nobody takes care but as soon as you use words like sex or rape you cause a storm of protest.

  • Mulluane
    April 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I’ll go ahead and weigh in on this one and hopefully not get scorned for it. Now I was raped once, date rape and lost my virginity as a result. I decided to square my shoulders and move past it. Made up my mind almost immediately that I was not going to let it turn me into a victim.

    But that is me.

    Different women handle things in different ways and none of it is “wrong”. It is like grief, everybody handles it in their own way. Based on my own experience, I saw nothing wrong with how her rape and recovery was portrayed. If anything I admired her strength.

    One additional side note. Peter V. Brett himself said that he knew he was walking a very fine line in writing those scenes. He wanted to portray the harsh realities of his world while not crossing the line into shock value. Stands to reason that in walking that line he would fall short of the mark for some, while crossing it for others. I can not imagine that it was easy.

    Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth. I loved the book and am eagerly waiting on the next installment!

  • Thea
    April 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    I just wanted to ring in on this interesting discussion – frankly, I’m intrigued and probably will give this book a read at some point in the near future.

    edifanob – on the subject of rape versus extreme violence, two things might help clarify matters 🙂 First, Ana is actually Brazilian and living in the UK (I’m the American of the group!). But, as I am an American, I can answer somewhat for myself. To me, rape and violence are terrible things, but I don’t mind them in my books/movies so long as they are pertinent to the story. I do think there is a strange disconnect between our (American) tolerance for violence and our aversion to sex – for example, in high school my teacher could recommend we watch Saving Private Ryan in theaters, but couldn’t recommend Shakespeare In Love because it had (OMG!) nudity and sex in it (completely back-asswards, if you ask me). As for the subject of Rape in American culture, it is taboo where extreme violence might be more tolerated – but I don’t see this as a bad thing.

    There is a fascination with violence that I myself have…but I don’t think that’s solely an American trait. The Romans had the Coliseum, after all…

    The second thing that might shed some light on your question is that Ana is [i]very[/i] touchy about rape in literature. For example she will not read the Mercy Thompson books because she knows there is a rape in book 3, she refused to read Juliet Marillier’s [i]Daughter of the Forest[/i] because there was a rape in it, she wasn’t crazy on Diana Gabaldon’s [i]Outlander[/i] for the same reason; it’s her own deal-breaker (I’m sure she’ll drop by tomorrow and give her perspective!). In contrast, I don’t mind. A story is a story, and if rape is in it then so be it.

    If that helps any! :mrgreen:

    Mulluane – What an horrific experience, and I am sorry that you have had to go through something so terrible. And you should NEVER have to apologize or think you are going to be scorned – the fact that you can discuss this is testament to your strength. Thank you for sharing with us, and giving your perspective.

    And you make a good point. Things will always rub readers different ways. I’m actually intrigued by the review and comments about this novel, so I’ll probably give it a shot and see how it suits me!

  • Ana
    April 12, 2009 at 10:40 am


    This is funny. I also talked about the book, the review and the comment with my partner! 😀 He somewhat agrees with me too but he also said: you need to take into consideration that not everyone is as sensitive to the subject as you are. So, there you have it. I think Thea covered pretty well how much I abhor to read about rape in literature .

    What you said, that the writer chose a society dominated by men. Well, I read several books where the society is dominated by men, but still the women are painted in better colors and given more to do than being sluts and Mothers, and herb gatherers. It is possible to have both, I believe.

    I think I should just address what you say about violence and sex. As Thea said I am not American, so I don’t how do address that part of your point. But I can say that I have a pretty high threshold when it comes to violence and sex in literature. I don’t mind either when they work for the story, specially sex. I am a romance reader, so 99% of the books I read have a lot of sex. So, the problem to me, as a reader is when a book combines BOTH, as in rapes. Because I know violence = bad and sex = good, violent sex never goes down well down my throat. I can and will read books with rape in it, but my enjoyment of the novel will vary according to the way it is handled by an author. I just don’t think Brett handled it well, within the confines of The Painted Man.

    Mulluane: I am SO sorry to hear that. I don’t even know what to say. I think you are very brave to say it here and I admire your strength. I think I know deep inside that I would break down if it ever happened to me and this is why I can’t stand reading about it.

    With regards to The Painted Man; I actually think Sheela’s rape turns out to be merely for shock value ONLY because she recovers way too fast. I can admire her for her strength in not letting it bring her down but I still can’t believe that she would be capable, physically, of having sex after being brutally raped only a few days before and without any pain at all.

    I think I was pretty fair in my review of the book, though. I did mention that the way women were portrayed bothered me but I was ok with it for most part. I also said the rape and the way it was dealt with was not a deal breaker and that is saying a lot from me. I also mentioned other things like the vagueness and the fact that the book did not wow me. Ultimately I think it all comes down to this: that the writing was not awe inspiring and some of it was really clichéd. Still, a 6 rated book is a pretty good book in The Book Smugglers dictionary. Just not a VERY good, or EXCELLENT one. That is even more clear to me now that I started reading The Name of the Wind. The writing itself is absolutely stunning. And hey, the women in here? Awesome. I just adore how sexy and loving Kvothe’s parents relationship is. :mrgreen:

  • Shannon C.
    April 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve read all the buzz about this book, too, and I’ve almost bought it several times. But your description of the female character’s rape and then her almost immediate willingness to jump into bed gives me a visceral gut reaction of “No thanks.” Rape isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, but that coupled with what seems to be a pretty clear virgins = good and proper, sluts = horrible people, and the trope about the woman needing the hero’s manly, manly healing manparts to make things OK just makes my inner feminist go “ugh.”

    But then, I’ve not read the book. I suspect I won’t until I can get a copy from a library.

  • edifanob
    April 12, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    First of all I really appreciate the quality of this discussion.

    Mulluane, I admire how you cope with this terrible experience. And of course this is your way to do it.

    Ana, in case I offended you please apologize. We are all human beings with different socialisation and different experience. Now I understand why you wrote this review in the way you did.
    Of course you have been fair in your review. I’m far beyond to deny this.
    When you look at the discussion about your review it must be a good one.
    Books like the PAINTED MAN and your review make it worth to read blogs and to discuss about.
    I needed to discuss this topic with my wife – like you did with your partner – because it is important. When I think about the role of women in Africa it causes nausea in me.

    Ana and Thea thank you so much for all these explanations. It helps me a lot to understand American society.

    Ana, I’m glad to read that you enjoy reading The Name of the Wind. :mrgreen:

    Finally I hope and wish to have again a discussion of THE DESERT SPEAR by Peter V. Brett

  • Ana
    April 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    edifanob oh no, you did not offend me at all. 🙂
    I was just a bit worried that I was not clear in my review that I had other reasons to have not been awed by the book.

    In any case, thank you for coming around and discussing with us, this is one of the reasons why we blog: to be able to talk about the books we love (or not.)

    And re: The Desert Spear: we have a date 😉

  • Peter V. Brett
    April 12, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Normally I am loathe to comment on reviews of my own work; I find it somewhat crass. But this is a worthy discussion, and I would like to put in my two cents on the rape/recovery issue. The topic is very important to me, and one I intend to discuss on my own blog some day, though I have been putting it off as I feel it is something of a plot spoiler.

    I know from both research and personal experience that, counter-intuitive though it may seem, it is actually quite common for victims of sexual assault to seek out a consensual sexual experience very soon afterward. This is in part due to a desire to cleanse themselves of the violent act, in part in an effort to reclaim control over their sexuality, and, often, because they fear pregnancy, and would like to hold out hope that if such occurs, it might be the result of the consensual act.

    The sexual experience shared by Leesha and the Painted Man was not casually added, nor was it about love or romance. It was about two people in desperate need for human contact and acceptance reaching out and trying to heal themselves and one another, even if it was a subconscious thing neither of them fully realized. Whether a romance grows out of that seed or not remains to be seen.

    Like Mullane, I see Leesha’s ability to get past what happened to her and go on to do great and heroic things as a sign of her strength. But that said, I can assure you the experience will have lasting effects on her, the repercussions of which will be felt for books to come.

    There are many people that gravitate towards fantasy for the sake of escapism, and prefer that it not deal with such weighty issues as sexual assault and the like, which are a minefield for readers. I respect that, and enjoy escapist stories myself from time to time, but since its inception in antiquity, fantasy stories have also been used to comment on the human condition, and I think that has value as well, even when it occasionally puts us outside our comfort zones. It’s really wonderful to see my own work spur thoughtful discussion such as this thread. Really, there’s not much more an author can ask for.

  • edifanob
    April 13, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Wow! I’m impressed!
    Thanks to Peter V Brett for his explanations. The shows again the quality of this discussion.
    I also can’t deny that use often fantasy to escape my work as a programmer. But I agree with Peter to put as sometimes outside our comfort zones.
    Anyway I get more and more excited to read the sequels.

    Ana, I just want to tell you again that you did a good review and you described clearly your likes and dislikes.
    It was a great pleasure to take part in this discussion.
    And I look forward to our DESERT SPEAR date 😉

    Ana and Thea, I visit your blog on a regularly base and be sure whenever I have to add something to a post or a discussion I will do this.

  • Ana
    April 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Dear Mr. Brett

    Thank you so much for stopping by and weighing in on this discussion. It is greatly appreciated and we feel honoured to have you here.

    I have to admit that I was very surprised when I read that according to the research you did, it is common or victims of sexual assault to seek out a consensual sexual experience very soon afterward. I did not expect that. I, thank God have never been the victim of such a horrendous experience and all I have to go by is my fear and the feeling that unfortunately, I would not be one of the strong ones. I hope I never have to find out.

    In any case, I am looking forward to reading where you take Leesha next and how the repercussions of what she went through will be felt in her life.

    Once again, thank you very much for your very thoughtful comment.


    We will look forward to having more interesting discussions such as this! :mrgreen:

  • Mulluane
    April 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

    My final thoughts. While I appreciate all the well wishing and comments on my strength in sharing, I have to in all fairness note that this happened over 30 years ago. Today it is just a blip on my radar.

    As far as being scorned for my views, I have been. It was like a second rape, a violation of my strength in dealing with things. I have been told, by both women and men, that my refusal to be a victim is like implied consent. I am essentially saying that being raped is no big deal. Umm, no, I had to make a concentrated effort to MAKE it no big deal for ME. Not the same thing at all, but it is enough to make me hesitate to bring it up.

    On a separate note, I admire Peter Brett for speaking up. I do not consider an author expressing his thoughts on a review to be crass when it is done so well. He made a well spoken, well reasoned argument in favor of his handling of Leesa’s rape and one I have to agree with based on my own experience. Actually, the need for validation of her own self worth would be another factor since the experience totally devalued her in the eyes of her society. A sexual encounter of a gentler kind would help her to feel wanted, maybe needed and possibly loved, even though her own people will claim that she no longer has any worth, that she is damaged goods, and nobody will ever want her as a wife and the mother of their children. Granted, it would not change any of those views, but for her it would go a long way towards helping her not to feel worthless and alone.

    This, by the way, is not something that is unique to Peter Brett’s world but is historically accurate in our own and goes on in some societies even today. Wishing a thing is not so is not a reason to not write about it, ever, not even in fiction. I admire an author who dares to take us out of our comfort zone because only then can we understand and face our own fears and maybe find new ways to deal with them.

    But, of course, that is just my opinion :>)

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    […] in Romanceland, and so little actual book discussion. Also, the Book Smugglers reviewed a book, The Painted Man, by Peter V. Brett, and Brett responded to one particular criticism they offered, having to do with a rape in that […]

  • Peter V Brett :: Peephole In My Skull
    April 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    […] apparently I opened a can of worms the other day with my comment on the (spoiler review alert!) review of The Painted Man by Ana from The Book Smugglers. Not because of what I said or how I said it, but because of the very fact that I, wearing my […]

  • Liane Merciel
    April 22, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Found my way here courtesy of Mr. Brett’s blog and wanted to leave a comment in passing, since “rape in fantasy” seems to be a hot topic in the blogosphere lately.

    Full disclosure: I’m a prosecutor in a major city, and I’ve dealt with a fair number of sexual assault/rape/child molestation cases across the spectrum from borderline-consensual date rape to violent home-invasion stranger rape where the victim gets her head bashed in with a pipe.

    Leesha’s rape, while not explicitly described, seemed a lot closer to #2 than #1. For that reason I’m inclined to agree with Ana that I don’t believe she would have been able or willing to have consensual sex within a few days of the attack. Violent rapes, and particularly violent gang rapes where the victim actively struggles, can cause major physical trauma — fistulas, permanent incontinence requiring surgical repair, and so on. A woman’s not going to rush back into sex after that any more than she would after giving birth, no matter what her psychological state might be. We’re talking about weeks to months of recovery time.

    I liked the book, but yes, that was one scene I really didn’t buy. I’m used to writers getting that sort of thing wrong, though, so it tends not to be a dealbreaker for me unless it happens repeatedly.

  • Ana
    April 24, 2009 at 4:57 am


    thank you so much for your input. It is hard to argue when one does not have either the personal experience or hard facts – only in my case , intuition.

  • Anonymous
    June 4, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Ok, so it’s subconcious. But, and this is a huge thing for me, I NEED TO KNOW WHY EVEN IF THEY DON’T.

    If the author shows me no motivation, then it just comes across as stupid or ignorant or, tbh, offensive. I saw almost no ‘desperate need for human contact’ from the female MC in the narrative, or in the dialogue ( I did get that from the male MC’s POV). All I saw was ‘she wanted him’ basically – no reasoning behind it.

    In the end – an author should make his work clear enough that he doesn’t need to explain.

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    November 17, 2009 at 6:15 am

    […] be a touchy subject all around. I don’t think I’ll ever forget reactions to Ana’s calling out of a rape scene here.) It is simply a commentary and example used for this post. I fully believe that a book that […]

  • Tizroc
    January 13, 2010 at 1:02 am

    I commend everyone on this thread for their excellent culture and ability to converse as adults. This can be a very sensitive subject to many people, and surprisingly some of the most vocal are the fortunate who have not endured this. I think this shows empathy and casts a great light on these individuals.

    Both my wife and I have not been so lucky. The better half was in an unfortunate date rape situation that affected her so bad she was unable to let people touch her even 3 years later when I met her. It took a lot of love, compassion and patience to bring her out. Once she was she has grown (on her own accord, me only enjoying the ride) into a new woman.

    Myself I was the opposite. It granted me power, brought me out of my shell and gave me the strength to never be a victim. To eat life with a fork in one hand and chopsticks in the other. Of course it was my experiences as a little boy that allowed me to understand my wife’s experience because no amount of compassion can replace a survivor’s knowledge and power. My wife is now a very powerful woman.

    She bore a child because of what happened to her. She is my daughter, and has been since she was very, very little. Even in her shell she showed extraordinary strength of character to survive and keep such a child. The world would not be a better place had she not had that unrealized power. As my daughter is a gift to the world.

    The thing is that as unfortunate (that is really a word lacking in every way the true evil of the act) as it is, things happen in the world. Those things are life, and art imitates life. I was flooded with enjoyment seeing Leesha’s strength to get up, as well as Mercy’s (another favorite author who Mr. Brett has just joined) character has grabbed her life and moved forward.

    I find it hard to exactly express my words here, but I guess this is as close as it gets. Sometimes it troubles me when people rant or rage against character development at the hands of a good story teller. The Loss of Arlen’s mother was unfortunate but lent strength and depth to the character. So to Leesha’s with her gathering her will and standing up for herself. As distasteful as these things can be to read (and they can make me cringe and knot my insides while reading), when handled right can lend the third dimension to a character. The fact is that everything about writing is a plot device, and that shouldn’t necessarily be a derogatory statement. There isn’t anything really new, but there are people who can tell it in a new light… those people should be commended for doing something good, and entertaining us for awhile. Not all literature is bubble gum and soda pop. The Time Traveler’s Wife has some of the best dialog between characters I have read. very realistic and I really enjoyed the book… several times. Still bad things happen in that book. Some very very bad things that as a father crushed me and had me needing to take a break, still when taken in its whole the book wonderfully touched me and I enjoyed it. Plot devices.

    I have really enjoyed reading your responses and have felt that each of you has acted in very mature way (which is unfortunately not something you see much online)… in such a way that it brought the author here to comment. I liked that about you all and think you all deserve to be congratulated for your literature love, adventurous conversation and civility. Thanks for letting me be a small part of that. 🙂

  • Almost a review of Peter Brett’s The Desert Spear « King of the Nerds!!!
    July 30, 2010 at 8:01 am

    […] over at the Book Smugglers in her review of The Warded Man mentions the importance of mother’s in the story and the empowered nature of women as a […]

  • Kislay Verma
    October 24, 2013 at 1:38 am

    My take on the book- it was an enjoyable read, I just wish the writing was more inspired. The author will have to hone his battle writing skills.

    It is an interesting, engaging read, but not a multi-layered, sprawling masterpiece. It doesn’t introduce an exotic new world to the reader, but neither is it a feeble attempt at magic and mystery as many books in the Long Tail are.

    In its theme and general layout, it is close to the classical high fantasy works, with Arlen Bales as the chosen one who rises to power along with with a bunch of other heroes(Rojer and Leesha). In execution and especially the style of writing though, The Warded Man leans closer to Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. The writing is mostly and deliberately on the cruder side, with more than enough obsession with sex and making babies.

    The interesting thing for me was the way real world medieval cultrues are lifted as-is to form the krasian and free city worlds. It made strong analogies between peter brett’s world and the real world.

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