I have a weird way of telling if I'm truly absorbed in the world of a book (because sometimes these things sneak up on me). It's a way I'd typically keep to myself because it's kind of embarrassing: I start to curse as the characters would.
While reading Anne McCaffery's Pern novels, I found myself thinking "Shards" when I would spill something. While absorbed in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, it was "Light" or "Blood and ashes!" With Harry Potter, it was "Wicked" (though that's less of a curse than just an exclamation).
With The Warded Man, it was no different. Last night, after I'd finished the book in record time, I found myself cursing "Core" when I discovered my heater was broken, and "Creator" when I was peeved that the maintenance men hadn't arrived to fix my leaky ceiling. It was then that I knew that I'd been completely sucked into Peter V. Brett's world.
The Warded Man captured me from the first page, sucking me into the strange world where vicious demons rise from the ground at night and are kept at bay only by special wards people paint on their houses. The plot idea was intriguing all by itself, but it was the characters that made this novel.
Brett's characters, from the three main protagonists to the cast of dozens of secondary characters to the extras populating the cities, rang true and real, rounded out by flaws and strengths unique to each. I loved the way Brett explored his characters through their weaknesses, each ordeal challenging a flaw, pressing them to either grow or be doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Even better, the main protagonists did not always make predictable choices, did not always rise to every challenge nobly, but they managed to grow and change without becoming paragons of virtue or predictably perfect.
The pacing of this novel was also handled masterfully. Unlike my recent read of Gaiman's Anansi Boys, Brett managed to put his protagonists through hell, but still give them (and me) breather time to celebrate small successes and to build toward greater hurtles.
When I finished the book, I felt like a petulant child given a taste of cake and then denied an entire piece. More! I thought. I want more! More story, more time with the characters, more adventure. The book isn't even out yet in stores, and already I want to read the next. Obviously, I highly recommend this novel.
Here's to Brett finishing book 2 much faster now that he's using all his fingers to type, and not just his thumbs.
(And a reminder to all: NON interviewed Peter V. Brett back in January. Go to numberonenovels.blogspot.com to see that interview, or click here.)