I moved right on to the next book in Brett's Demon Cycle after finishing The Desert Spear, partly because I wanted to go ahead and finish out what I have on that series, and partly because I didn't have my copy of A Dance of Dragons yet. The latter should be arriving this afternoon, so it was perfect timing to finish the book today. This book follows right after the events in the previous volume, enough so that when I think back to when an event happened, I can't remember if it happened in this book or the previous one. It's no biggie, really, but it's funny trying to place exactly when Leesah and Jardir ... well, no spoilers, right?
Parts of the story are starting to wear thin with me. Leesha, Arlen, Jardir, Renna, Rojer, and Inevara are all perfect at what they do, and not only are they perfect, but they were either the fastest learner, the youngest warrior, the most this, the greatest that. I think I get it: Heroic fantasies require a hero, and heroes are, by definition, heroic, so it makes sense for the characters to be the perfect example of such. If there were just one of them, then it might be acceptable, but they're all like that, and it gets tiresome. And speaking of tiresome, the dialect of Renna and Arlen gets old pretty fast. It's rural and quaint, and effectively places the characters in their environment, but it gets repetitive and annoying. It's probably a better way to engross the reader in the world, but it seems like there could be a better balance between dialogue and narrative to express the dialect without having to write it out phonetically.
Leesha's character is also starting to get annoying. Her motivations are convenient and questionable, and it seems like Brett is just using her decisions as a means to advance the plot. I mean, the plot doesn't really advance much in this novel (and it didn't advance much in The Desert Spear, either), but what conflict existed between Arlen and Jardir before is exacerbated by the decisions she makes. Considering that I wasn't convinced that she would make those decisions, based on what had already been revealed about her character, then she just becomes the macguffin here. The ultimate story should be the one of the humans against the demons, but Brett instead chooses to focus on the strained dynamics of his core characters. The upcoming war is certainly there, but it's more a backdrop to the squabbles of his six main characters.
Arlen is also starting to show some cracks as a character, now that he's become superhuman. He's entering into Miracleman territory, where nothing can defeat him, and when a character gets that powerful, the conflicts he encounters are going to be less interesting when it will be nearly impossible for him to lose them. I give Brett credit for still making those moments tense -- a lot of the danger shifts off of Arlen and onto the rest of the cast -- but if Arlen is always going to be able to survive his fights with the demons, don't we already know how the story will end?
Also, are multiple point-of-view characters with their own chapters pretty common in fantasy literature, and I only just noticed it with A Song of Ice and Fire, or was Martin's series a big influence on Brett and his series? He even mentioned them in the foreword of The Desert Spear, so it's obviously something he's consciously doing. My exposure to fantasy is pretty limited, but what I remember most is that the stories are usually told from either a third-person omniscient viewpoint, or a limited third-person omniscient viewpoint (J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter, for example). Is this style a new trend, or has it always been pretty standard in fantasy?
Each volume in the series is making less and less of an impression on me. Brett still tells a good tale, full of heart and humor, and his narrative is compelling and vivid, but I'm starting to lose interest in the overall story. I'm too far along in the series to not see how it finishes, but I think I've been spoiled on A Song of Ice and Fire to appreciate this any more than I do.