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“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

The Warded Man - Peter V. Brett The world of The Painted Warded Man (*) is governed by fear. Countless corelings/demons rule the night. Magical wards that keep the demons out also keep the people in. The promise of safety has become their prison. * Sidenote: By the way, what's up with the name change? Is this book a part of Book Witness Protection Program? Why? Being caught out in the open at night equals gruesome death. People in this world hide trembling behind their wards at night terrified of what's out there. Fear rules their lives and determines their actions. They have lost their will to fight. They have traded freedom for safety. And so enter our three main characters who decide that life is more than just cowering in fear: (A) Arlen, who refuses to live his life in fear and forgoes conventional happiness for what he feels is right - and becomes the titular Painted Warded Man, battling the corelings (**). (B) Leesha - a brave and determined young woman, a skilled healer and herb gatherer who defies all expectations of her male-dominated society. (C) Rojer, a self-doubting young jongleur alive thanks to his mother's sacrifice, who is able to charm corelings with music. (A) (B) (C) ------------------------------------------** Sidenote #2: It's hard to believe that nobody EVER thought about doing to themselves what Arlen did. Yes, they did not have battle wards until Arlen found them. But a few defensive ones, just to be on the safer side? (***)*** Sidenote # 3: Upon further thought, maybe the years of viewing the demons as the deserved punishment from the supreme being made those people accept their "fate" and just pray for the Deliverer. Without ever trying to take a stand. That's sad.------------------------------------------Brett does not bother with the recent trend of having "shades of gray" antihero/protagonists - and his approach works. They have their flaws - Arlen is angry, Leesha is headstrong, Rojer is insecure - but they are clearly the good guys. They are instantly likeable, and it feels good to be rooting for them. We are also given just the right amount of worldbuilding to draw the reader into this universe without making the story drag. Unlike so many recent fantasy books it does not drag the reader into the endless political intrigues, which is refreshing. Instead, we get character development and adventures, and it's great. Yes, Mr. Brett is a talented storyteller. "We are what we choose to be, girl,' she said. 'Let others determine your worth, and you've already lost, because no one wants people worth more than themselves." ----------------------------Great fantasy book, a real page-turner. Good story, good characters, good execution. Easy 5 stars.