Book Review: The Vagrant

The Vagrant by Peter Newman

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

The Vagrant received a lot of media attention being a massive debut for Peter Newman. Of course this book hadn't escaped my attention and the good folk over at Harper Voyager kindly send me a copy to review.  What first got me fired up for The Vagrant was the very brief synopsis with a lot of promise, I encountered something similar a few years back with Jay Posey's Three. Also an post-apocalytic story with a less is more synopsis. Secondaly the cover allured so much to me, a guy with a sword and a baby... What is going on? Does Peter Newman do a good job? Yes, he does. Many times over. The Vagrant is a solid debut that will win over the hearts of many readers. When you read it you will understand what I mean. 

The story of The Vagrant focuses on the Vagrant. This man is known by no other name than Vagrant. He is currently navigating a more than hostile world. Approximately eight years ago demons came through the Breach and managed to won the upperhand. The world as it was no longer is. The world is destroyed, it's torn apart. But hope comes in the form of a baby that he is carrying with him, a baby later called Vesper. To aid him in his travels, by aiding I mean slaying the demonic creatures, the Vagrant carries a legendary sword with immense powers, it's the sword of a Seraph Knight (angelic beings). So you can now imagine with demons and angelic beings that it was quite a stand off. The story that you see in the present age is actually more or less the trek that the Vagrant and his companions make towards the Shining City, in a post-apocalytic land you can easily imagine that this is far from easy and this is where the main focus in the story lies, showing the difficulties that the Vagrant has with traversing this land, the enemies he has and the unlikely allies he makes. Now don't count your cards to early as this is far from everything. I mentioned above the "current" timeline, as intertwined in this timeline you have the whole backstory of what happened and how it happened eight years ago. This latter addition transformed the book into something wonderful. 

Peter Newman managed to create a non-stop story. There is always something going on, when the action cools down in the current story, it picks right back up in the backstory and vice versa. He writes with a definite confidence as if he has been writing books for many years. The pacing of both stories are very nice and you will easily get lost in this book. 

One aspect of The Vagrant that I really liked was the world. This really deserves a wow factor. I am a big fan of reading about post-apoalytic worlds and the one that Peter Newman envisions is definitely one of the betters that I have had the pleasure of reading about. It is really well constructed and the first mention you have is about the fact that demons came through the Breach and took over everything leaving death and destruction everywhere, and still maintaining it. Only later you learn that the Vagrant carries a mythical sword once held by Seraph Kinghts, so now you have a battle of heaven and hell? And what does a commoner do with such a powerful sword? Peter Newman raises many questions with building his world. When it comes to technology, it's kind of odd in the story, making it hard to pin down, on one side you have a lot of science fiction influences, but not heavy technology. This all mixed with influence of steampunk and even some sword and sorcery, epic fantasy ones, creating a truly unique feeling. The world was very dark and Peter Newman made it clear that it is not a pretty thing to live in. Luckily, no matter how dark the place there is always a lightpoint somewhere to brighten up the day.

However I do have one small point to nag when it came down to describing everything, for me it felt to elaborate with naming every bit and piece. Don't get me wrong I just spoke with a lot of praise about showing everything, but for me it felt sometimes that there was a lot of repetition when it came in describing events, people and surroundings. Probably this was owed to the enthusiasm of Peter Newman and how much he wanted to share this story with us. Just a small remark. 

When it comes down to the characters, another big plus. I really liked how Peter Newman voiced or i can better say not-voiced the Vagrant. He cannot speak, or doesn't want to. He is the opposite of all talk no action. I think it must have been a hard task by putting the protagonist with this handicap. You can only make him do things, nod yes or nod no, or try to speak with his hands or facial features. This could have definitely been a breaking point of the book if it was wrongly executed, well as I said above, the characters are a plus so Peter Newman nailed this bit. The interaction with all the character was there, and there were even some more complex relations. Plus having the Vagrant not speak, only added much more sense to his already vague history. Then you have Vesper, the baby talked about. This little creature will warm your heart. In the midst of all the chaos of the world Vesper is innocence. Vesper is also that little light-point where I talked about, that ray of sunshine that will make everything alright. 

From idea down to execution Peter Newman did a great job. The Vagrant has a lot of big and bold idea's that nicely fit into each other. Combining a post and pre-apocalytic story together creates a wonderful and very grim and dark sense of the world. If you look at the world building that Peter Newman achieved in the book, it is just amazing. I loved the world and everything that was in it. Next to a very engaging worlds comes a just a worthy character cast, from the Vagrant himself down to his companions: Vesper, Harm and the goat. They really make the story come to life. The enthusiasm of Peter Newman really shines all throughout the story, I hope this is far from the last story we will be reading for him. If you are into post apocalytpic stories, this is not a story to be missed. If you aren't still you won't to miss this as well!

Comments

  1. I've heard such good things about this, I'm actually regretting that I didn't snag the ARC. Then again, I wouldn't have had time to read it anyway, but it's still going on my TBR list for the future. :)

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