Review: The Desert Prince (Nightfall Saga #1) by Peter V Brett


Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis

A brand-new epic fantasy adventure set in the beloved world of the Demon Cycle, following a new generation of heroes, from New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett

Fifteen years have passed since the end of the war with demons, creatures of darkness who have hunted the night and plagued humanity since time out of mind. The heroes of humanity’s hour of need have become legend, and those who remain struggle to escape their shadows.

Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in this new peaceful world. Demons have been all but destroyed, but dangers still lurk for the children of heroes.

Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out by her mother, Duchess Leesha Paper: a steady march on a checklist to prepare her for succession. The more her mother writes the script, the more Olive rails against playing the parts she is assigned.

Darin faces challenges of a different kind. Though free to choose his own path, the weight of legacy hangs heavy around his shoulders. It isn’t easy being the son of the man people say saved the world. Everyone expects greatness from Darin, but the only thing he’s ever been great at is hiding.

But when Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge. Events are set in motion that only prophecy can foresee as Olive and Darin seek to find their own places in the world in time to save it again.

Review

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 often come up, these people and their stories hold special places in peoples hearts and at the forefront of people’s minds.  But there is one author that I don’t think is mentioned nearly enough and we should remedy this, that author is Peter V Brett, the man behind the Demon Cycle. I would love to spend the rest of this review explaining to you all the reasons I love the Demon Cycle series, all the elements that make it so exciting and unique, 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 at this point. However, I do remember 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 and 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, the Son of the Deliverer. The legacy of his father hangs heavily on his shoulders as people hope that he will be the man his father was. The second is 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 dragging them down and their enemies always managing to surprise them.  

Brett played into this strength with The Desert Prince, writing two incredibly brilliant main characters that I loved to read. 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 this time. 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, 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 realistic, he’s perfect in the sense that we didn’t need another Arlen or a poor copycat of him, Instead we needed something new, and we got all of that with Darin, yet we get that gentle reminder of the character we loved the most in the previous series. On top of this Darin is incredibly unique to this book and world, were as the majority of The Desert Prince has a feeling of similarity we have something completely different and I cant wait to find out the extent of what Darin can do. 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 bit of that struggle 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 eventually. 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, this book kept me up every night, demanding your attention.

tl;dr

The Desert Prince is a book that demands you turn the page, a book that that you think about when you cant be with it, a book that is relentless in its need 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.

The Desert Prince is released on the 3/8/2021, You can buy yourself a copy of over at Broken Binding, they are offering handsigned copies with sprayed covers and a wrapping for 25 quid, plus with my code DFREVIEW221 you can get 5% off

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