The Warded Man

The Warded Man  - Peter V. Brett

This character-driven fantasy novel, in addition to its original premise of wards holding villages and cities safe from attack, adds familiar, earthy reality to how the protagonists, all children at the novel's start, grow up. As in the science-fiction novel China Mountain Zhang, the baseness of experiences makes the conjured reality more believable -- or at least we are reminded by Peter Brett that life in an unsophisticated, magical culture is not all large battles and mysterious creatures (though these make appearances); sometimes it is about surviving experiences with the wrong kind of people. With the cast that Brett has drawn, this survival becomes understandable, sympathetic, and urgent, elevating this fantasy world to those in books by Patrick Rothfuss and Brent Weeks -- which is to say that it is among the best of contemporary fantasy.