The Daylight War is the third installment in the Demon Cycle, a planned five-novel series by Peter V. Brett. It is a 639 page fantasy novel. The story continues to follow the main characters of the previous novels and adds a new main POV — Inevera — the woman (should I say seductress?) on the cover on the novel.
The first two novels in this series were focused on two powerful men who learn the secrets of defeating corelings, Arlen Bales and Ahmann Jardir. This novel focuses heavily on the women behind the scenes of the men, Renna, Leesha and Inevera. The main plot centers around the tensions between all these people, and the fact that each community believes either Jardir or Arlen are the Deliverer-come-again to rally armies and save humanity from the corelings. In the meantime, the mind demons become aware of these two powerful minds and aim to destroy them before they can make a difference in the world. Unfortunately for the demons, Jardir is equipped with ancient weapons of immense magic and power that protect him, and Arlen — thanks to consuming demon meat and tattooing himself with wards — is learning the secrets of their power, and starts traveling through the core and virtually teleporting around the world.
Along with the demon battle going on, the namesake, The Daylight War, is finally getting a little more exciting. The Krasians have left the desert and are coming to the north to gather everyone into one great force to fight the demons. In order to rally forces, first they must “convince” the northerners to come to their side. This shows the culturally real side of the Krasians; they rape, pillage, set fire to food supplies and force their women-as-second-citizens culture onto the greenlanders. We get to see this in-depth when Leesha and some of her company travel to the Krasian fort. Seeing the culture push was a wake up for how brutal most Krasians can be. I loved these sections of the book, though–the Krasians are and have been my favorite to read about in the second and third novels. Brett is excellent at exploring and describing different cultures.
While this story follows Arlen and Renna, Rojer, Leesha, Jardir, the mind demons, and pretty much all the characters from the previous novels, my favorite character in The Daylight War was the new main POV, Inevera. Because she was so mysterious in the first two novels, I was always curious about her training as a Krasian dama’ting, a healer and fortune teller of sorts. While most dama’ting are born into the life, every once in a while the dice, mystical pieces of carved demon bone, foretell a Damaji’ting–the predicted wife of Kaji, the original leader of the Krasians (and therefore wife of the Sharum Ka, first spear and leader of their country). Because the other nie’dama’ting have known each other and have been training since birth, Inevera is not only behind in knowledge, but also an outsider and a pariah in her group of peers. Her struggles are endearing — I applaud Brett for being able to make me sympathize with someone I once detested.
On the lighter side of things, we also get a POV from Abban — the Krasian trader and friend of Arlen. Smaller perspectives like his–while not a huge source of plot movement–kept the story fresh, because by the end of the novel, I wasn’t sure if I could stand to read, “Love you Arlen Bales” another time. The romance is fun for a while, seeing Arlen being more of a normal human, but Renna’s character seemed like she was trying too hard to please him. She becomes sort of a wild woman, hunting all the time, eating demon flesh, a generally violent and feral woman-beast. It seemed Arlen was more a temperance for her than she for him.
The coreling battles, while less numerous, were outstanding in this novel. Corelings start coordinating, and the mind demons act as generals to the lesser demons. Their attacks on major human settlements were both disturbing and fascinating. This is where Jardir’s and Arlen’s powers truly shone; Brett did a fantastic job narrating the battles. At the end of the novel, when the demons have been at bay for the waning of the moon, there is a human battle of sorts (supporting the title!), and is all too brief for my tastes. It was thrilling, but the ending felt unfinished. Perhaps that’s because I am now anxious to read the next novel and don’t want to wait.
Overall, I would say this book is an improvement in point of view on The Desert Spear, and moves along much quicker, if only because you’re hurrying to get to Inevera’s next section. This installment of the Demon Cycle is a great addition, so if you’ve read The Warded Man and The Desert Spear, this is definitely a must-read. If you haven’t had a chance to get into the series, what are you waiting for? This series is incredibly creative and fun.