The Warded Man - great start to a compelling series.
The Warded Man has all the components that make it a great first book of a Fantasy series. There is a focus on character building, multiple interesting magic systems exist, and the world itself faces a threat that immediately grabs your attention. Things are bleak in this world ruled by fear as every night when the sun falls demons rise from the core to prey upon any human foolish enough to be caught outside of their protective wards. The reader is slowly exposed to this ravaged world through the progression of three different story lines, each one detailing the events that shape the lives of one of the main characters. All of the characters start young and naive until the demons force them to each make a fateful decision that will shape the entirety of their remaining existence.
For hundreds of years mankind has dwindled under the relentless night time attacks of the corelings (demons from the core) but it was not always the case. Before this second Demon War started there were thousands of years where mankind prospered and grew strong in a world without demons. Those thousands of years came to pass after the first Demon War ended when mankind successfully fought the demons off led by a legendary figure known as the Deliverer. The first Demon War ended abruptly when one day the demons just stopped rising at night without explanation. Mankind was certainly winning the war at the time so as the years passed with no sign of any demons by mankind eventually came to the conclusion that they had won the war and slowly forgot the lore required to successfully battle the demons. After thousands of years of peace the demons suddenly returned and mankind was caught ill prepared for the onslaught. This second demon war continues and humanity finds itself on the brink when this story begins.
The corelings come in many varieties tied to various elements, including flame, wood, sand, rock, and wind demons, and they relentlessly rise every night and kill any human not protected by wards. Humans huddle in warded buildings when night comes and very few have the skills necessary to survive a night on the road, thus mankind is fractured and little knowledge sharing can occur. The three main characters each experience a tragic event that leads them to become fed up with the status quo and they each decide to risk themselves in an attempt to create a better world for everyone. Each of them takes a unique path forward via their different professional callings which includes a jongleur (bard), an herb gatherer (healer) and a messenger/warder. Experiencing this world from each of these three angles keeps the story interesting from cover to cover - Peter V. Brett has started off this series right.
The writing is good, the character development is solid, and the magic systems are intriguing so I definitely recommend this one. For audiobook fans, know that Pete Bradbury does an excellent job on the narration so this one is also great to listen to. This one was good enough that I had to instantly move on to book two, The Desert Spear.