Book Review: The Great Bazaar & Brayan's Gold

The Great Bazaar & Brayan's Gold by Peter V. Brett, Demon Cycle

From the dangerous world of the Demon Cycle comes the early adventures of Arlen, Peter V. Brett’s quintessential fantasy hero. These exciting origin tales follow Arlen as he learns to navigate a world where the elemental forces of evil conjure themselves from the earth each night.

Humanity has barely survived a demonic onslaught by using magical wards that protect their cities and homes. Only a handful of mercenaries and explorers risk traveling after the sun sets. Arlen, seeking adventure and fortune, is barely protected by the warded armor upon which he has inscribed intricate defensive runes. From a journey ferrying a wagonload of dynamite to a mountain stronghold, to a dangerous mission to recover desert treasures, Arlen faces friends and enemies with a strong arm and a cunning wit.

Peter V. Brett is a well known name in the fantasy world, being the author of the highly praised The Demon Cycle series. The series has been running strongly featuring the books, The Paintend/Warded Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War and The Skull Throne so far. The fifth addition, The Core is set to be published in 2018 (according to Goodreads). In expanding his universe, Peter V. Brett has written various short stories and two of them: The Great Bazaar and Brayan's Gold have been compiled by Tachyon Publishing into an omnibus edition sharing with the names of the stories as title. This for me was the first encounter with the Demon Cycle series and I tell you it has been a pleasant one! 

The first story in this omnibus  is that of Brayan's Gold. Brayan's Gold takes place in between the first book, The Pained/Warded Man and the second book, The Desert Spear. The story focuses on the main protagonist of the series, Arlen Bales, who is setting his footsteps in the trade of being a messenger. Arlen is a young adult of 17 years old, who is trained by his master Curk to become a full messenger. Messengers in the universe of Peter V. Brett are brave souls who venture long distances to deliver valuable, well it might sound boring but it's these brave souls that have to stay out at night or travel at night. And at night, the world transforms, bringing the demons out to play. Now back to the story, so Arlen is set on a task to deliver some very explosive items to Count Brayan who uses these items in his excavation endeavors. Again bringing stuff from point A to B is easy but not with demons and other people that wants something from you. Early on in the story Arlen is faced with troubles, not the demonkind, which he solves rather drastically. During this early encoutner it really comes to show that Arlen is a boy who sticks with his promises, it might give him a certain degree of naivete but it also with the stunt he pulls makes him very dangerous and not person you want to mess with. Of course Arlen also has to face of with some demons, because well, he travels in the dark hours as well. In the end Arlen does make it intact to Count Brayan to deliver the good, but here again he is faced with problems of a different degree and for me it came to show that Arlen, though apprentice messenger by trade, is something much more. 

The Great Bazaar is the second story of the omnibus and is actually a chapter from The Painted/Warded Man,  this chapter was set somewhere in between 16 and 17 of the book. It does happen later than Brayan's Gold. Here Arlen is already a bit more grown up and no longer feels like the apprentice messenger he was said to be in the first story. In this story Arlen receives a map from Abban. Abban runs a shop at the Bazaar in the desert of Krasia, and he wants Arlen to find a treasure, a very expensive and valuable piece of pottery which is said to be located in a small desert village. The reason why Abban cant retrieve said pottery is because the town is overrun by demons and demons can only be fought with wards. So naturally Arlen will be the best suited person for this task as he knows wards and how to use them. The trek to the desert town is a tough job where Arlen faces a number of known demons to him, who he can easily outsmart. But once in the city he stumbles upon species of demons he has never seen before and will make this task a lot harder on him. 

If you are new to the Demon Cycle series like me, both Brayan's Gold and The Great Bazaar make up for a very good an clear introduction/teaser for the bigger series, they can be easily read and understand as standalone books. 

The strength for me in these two stories really are the protagonist Arlen, he is a cool guy, as I said a bit naive but when he has to do things he will make sure the job gets done, and most importantly he sticks to his guns, no matter how dire the situation is. Another thing is the part of the whole demon fighting and the bigger idea behind it. I am a big fan of cool fighting scenes and unique systems with advantages/disadvantages and limitations and this is precisely what Peter. V. Brett utilizes in these two stories. This short omnibus edition featuring Great Bazaar and Brayan's Gold has definitely wet my appetite for more!


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