Hello, and welcome to the first part of The Warded Man reread. The first section we will discuss is the section called Tibbet’s Brook 318 – 319 ar(After Return). I will be discussing some spoiler aspects of the book, but it certainly won’t be everything.
The novel starts off with an introduction to a dire situation and one we will become accustomed to throughout the book, which is the aftermath of an attack. The chapter title is called Aftermath 319 ar. At this point, we don’t know much now, only that 27 are dead, but a family was spared because their wards held all night. And they watched the whole thing. This violence does not portend to fluffy bunnies and rainbows.
We are also introduced to Arlen; at the time of this chapter, he is 11 years old and working with his father out in the fields. Even at the young age of 11, I get a sense that Arlen is much wiser than his age allows. For example, the chapter outlines how Arlen handled a few bullies that had been torturing him. “Finally, Arlen had enough. He left a stout stick hidden in that spot, and the next time Cobie and his friends pounced, Arlen pretended to run, only to produce a weapon as if from thin air and come back swinging.” This is a very purposeful passage. Having read many of Peter V. Brett’s books, you come to understand that language and one-off memories like this are not for funsies, instead to show how a character could develop. This shows how Arlen is fine with violence, and he will not be hunted or tortured by foes larger than him.
This chapter also introduces us to the idea of a Jongleur. A profession of a traveling entertainer. This delights the children of the villages as life is hard and full of toil, and Jongleurs offer respite. Jongleurs often travel with messengers; news, like entertainment, is hard to come by. In this chapter, we are also introduced to a portable warded circle. Expensive, but it allows individuals a chance to travel distances and be safe at night from corelings. Arlen also talks a bit about how he wants to be a messenger. To travel the world and see the Free Cities.
With Arlen’s introduction, I think one of the most important quotes of the whole book happens in this chapter. It occurs after a character dies from an apparent suicide.
“Why?” He asked Ragen. “Why would he fight so hard last night, to kill himself now?” “Did he fight?” Ragen asked. “Did any of them fight? Or did they run and hide?”…”Sometimes hiding kills something inside you so that even if you survive the demons, you don’t really.”
With that, we are introduced to the central theme of The Warded Man, sometimes hiding is akin to dying. Ever since the corelings came, humans have been hiding and regressing. They are slowly dying. And not all are ok with it and would rather fight.
If It Was You 319 ar
This chapter happens a little bit later and again involves Arlen. His father wants to have a discussion with him about Uncle Cholie. In case we didn’t get the importance of the “hiding can be like dying” quote from the previous chapter. Brett reiterates the thought and how much it rings to 11-year-old Arlen. “Sometimes people live through an attack, but die anyway.”Arlen also believed Uncle Cholie to be a coward. This idea of Cholie being a coward shows an 11-year-old grasp of things. Even a wise 11-year-old. I found it to be good writing on Brett’s part. His father tells him that no one can fight the corelings, and hiding is the correct thing.
Arlen states there has to be a way… foreshadowing commences!
Later in the chapter, Arlen is joining the other villagers at the Jongleur’s show. The Jongleur is discussing a time for humans before the creation of wards, called The Age of Ignorance until they discovered writing that helped them utilize wards. Things were not always the way they are now. The Jongleur also discusses The First Demon War and the First Deliverer. “The Deliverer was a man called upon by the Creator to lead our armies and with him to lead us, we were winning!” The demons disappeared, and men could stop fighting. Great cities developed. The Age of Science came about where humans forgot magic.
Later in the chapter Arlen and his mother have a first-hand encounter with demons. There is a great rift between how Arlen sees the world and his father, safe behind the wards. This chapter hammers home how important that rift is. Arlen is someone who will fight, even if it means his own life. Whether that will be tempered by time and experience, we don’t know. But, we are given a glimpse into the kind of character Arlen is. It is also a chapter that is a tipping point for young Arlen, a moment of before and after.
“Back when the farm was safe. Back when his mother was well. Back when he didn’t know his father was a coward.”
All children have tipping points in their lives. Usually, it is when they discover that their parents are not