Second in the Demon Cycle fantasy series set in a mythical world in which demons come out at night to eat you and everyone hides behind Wards when the sun sets.
The main story starts with a very young Jardir and follows him through his training to become dar’Sharum, a soldier who expects to die killing alagai. With everything in their lives determined by the bones, Jardir rises quickly through the ranks, marrying a dama’ting, Inevera, who rules every decision in his life through the bones…as she leads him to think…until he becomes the ruler of Krasia and its tribes, the Sharum Ka. Inevera believes the Shar’dama Ka is coming and that Jardir is the Deliverer.
Their bible, the Everam, rules their lives and the Shar’dama Ka, a holy war to take back the lands that Kaji had ruled over 3,000 years ago. It must start with the Daylight War, the Sharak Sun, with Jardir conquering the greenlands and uniting them for Sharak Ka.
The first of the secondary stories is of Leesha and the aid and confidence the Warded Man provides the former Cutter’s Village, now renamed Deliverer’s Village in his honor. An honor the Warded Man zealously attempts to avoid.
The second is of Renna Tanner’s escape from the sexual abuse heaped upon her by her father. She barely escapes the fate planned for her by her village and her village barely escapes the fate they deserve.
All three stories are woven together through the Warded Man: his betrayal by Jardir which leads to his revival, the aid he provides Leesha ensures that the Warded Man distributes those lessons to anyone he meets, and the succor he gives Ren just as Renna opens his eyes to his own weaknesses.
It is Jardir’s invasion and capture of Fort Rizon that sets the Warded Man off on his journey to forge an alliance between the individual duchies to repel Jardir and his people. Just as it is the rumor of the Warded Man that sends Jardir to Deliverer’s Hollow.
Jardir is the Sharum Ka of a country of individual tribes. His intention is to unite them into one as he conquers all other lands in his bid to bring them all to his culture and his religion. It’s the least he can do to save them from their inferior cultures. His first wife, Inevera, is similar to a witch and her primary goal is to propel her husband to the highest peaks in their culture.
Leesha is the Deliver’s Hollow’s Herb Gatherer and she has learned well from the Warded Man. Well enough that she was able to protect her entire village. Make it safe enough that they may walk through their village throughout the evening without hiding behind Wards. To kill the demons who do threaten them. We encountered Rojer in The Warded Man. A jongleur, Rojer has a unique talent with a violin able to soothe and misdirect the demons. He’s also in love with Leesha.
The Warded Man is Arlen Bales. He’s been through Hell even as he has learned more than he ever realized existed in his world. His only mission now is to protect his people.
Renna Tanner thought she was Promised to Arlen before his mother died. Before Arlen left to seek his fortune.
Aspects of the Krasian culture were obviously influenced by Middle Eastern-Indian culture in terms of dress and covering up the women. There’s a strong caste separation between dal’Sharum soldiers at the top and the untouchable or khaffit at the bottom. I do wonder if khaffit was at all influenced by the South African term, kaffir. The Krasian intolerance for others and their level of violence amongst themselves and toward others has a very Taliban feel to it.
It’s rather interesting watching Jardir attempting to court Leesha. The clash of cultures is quite jarring…more for Jardir than Leesha as he is the one who wants her so badly. It certainly does provide Leesha with the information she wants. For such an intelligent man, Jardir doesn’t seem to be very considerate of his people in his accomodations of Leesha’s sensibilities. I have to wonder if this will blow up in his face later.
The last half sees Arlen revisiting all his old stomping grounds starting with the most recent and descending on down to his family’s homestead. It seems to be a combination of warning people of Jardir and his crusade as well as a psychological unpeeling opening him up for the scolding he gets from Renna.
The cover is glorious with its Krasian warrior riding very Saladin-like robes flowing holding the Spear of Kaji up. The title, The Desert Spear, could refer to the Spear of Kaji or to Jardir as he takes up arms as the Deliverer.