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 gods but fallible people. This was Arlens.
A Night Alone 319 ar
A Night Alone is a pretty short chapter and details what happened to Arlen when he ran from his father into the woods after a fight between them. Arlen gets trapped in the dark, and the demons come. He makes his stand and creates a warded circle 6 feet in diameter. The demons thrash and try to kill him. Arlen learns some helpful information about demons and has his first experience with them alone. This tempers him a bit, as he is injured during the night. When night gives way to dawn, Arlen stumbles on towards Old Mey Frieman, who could help his mother. Or he was going to die trying.
Leesha 319 ar
Leesha is the first chapter where we are introduced to 12-year-old Leesha Paper. Paper, because her father runs the paper mill. The first line is, “Leesha spent the night in tears. That in itself was out of the ordinary, but it wasnt her mother that had her weeping this night.” Leesha hears that runes have failed somewhere, and she hears the screams of the hunted townsfolk. You can imagine of terrifying this could be to a child. Also, we learn that Leesha is promised to Gared Cutter and that he is strong and tall. She will give him many strong babies. Humans are being hunted to extinction, and babies are needed to keep everything going. Later in the chapter, the townsfolk are trying to help put out the fires from the burning houses set aflame by Fire demons. We are also introduced to the herb gatherer Hag Bruna. Old beyond old, she has saved the townsfolk with her knowledge of herbal lore time and time again. She also brooks no stupidity, and there is plenty of that going around. Much of the chapter is devoted to discussing how Leesha is waiting on her courses to marry Gared. She has always been taught that that was what she was here for, but over this chapter, we start to see that there might be more ways to live your life.
Much like Arlen’s chapters, Leesha’s chapters detail how she is not quite like the others in the town. But in juxtaposition to Arlen, Leesha wants to help. You see flashes of it in how she interacts with Bruna, but this will foreshadow who Leesha becomes.
The next two chapters, Crowded Home 319, and The Secrets of Fire are again about Leesha’s virginity and “pureness.” Gared and his father have had to come live with Leesha’s family while their home is repaired. This puts the two promised teenagers close overnight. The first night they do some heavy making out, but Leesha stops Gared before things go too far. This is an important line for Leesha and one that she considers sacred. Gared, in turn, tells his friends they had sex, which gets out to the whole town. Leesha is mortified and feels that she is ruined. This also demonstrates what a terrible person Gared is. Leesha knees Gared in the balls. I really like Leesha. Later, after Leesha declares that she will not marry Gared and fights with her abusive mother, Leesha runs away to Bruna’s house, and this starts her journey as a healer.
Rojer 318 ar
We first meet Rojer as a 3-year-old boy holding on to his mother’s skirts. Rojers’s family is the innkeeper for their village. Rojer’s mother is remarking how they need to get the wards fixed immediately as they are warping and not safe. Foreshadowing! Arrick Sweetsong pulls up; Sweetsong is a master Jongleur traveling as a herald for Duke Rhinebeck.
Later that evening, the wards fail.
This is a particularly vicious scene. Rojer’s parents are mauled, and Sweetsong is no hero. With her dying breath, Rojer’s mother saves him. Rojer is left with Sweetsong sitting in the dark. The whole village burns to the ground.
To The Free Cities 319 ar
This chapter is a pivotal point for Arlen. He has run away, been cut by demons, had infected wounds. Ragen found him from earlier chapters while he was delirious. Ragen helped him overcome the infection, and Arlen tells Ragen that he does not want to go back. It is also discovered that Arlen has an affinity for painting wards.
Fort Miln 319 ar
Arlen and Ragen make their way to the free cities, and Arlen gets his first view of what the city looks like. Ragen takes the responsibility of the boy and helps set him up with an apprenticeship of seven years with a warder.
The first section of the book sets the foundation for the three main characters and the paths that they are setting out on. They start as children, but end up heading into their various vocations. Rojer, is with Sweetsong and will probably end up a Jongleur. Leesha is with Brun and is starting herb gatherer training. And, Arlen is about to start with a warder. While not a lot of plot happened, we have a firm foundation for the story. I also like how the story is bisected by time. The story takes place over quite a few years, so we will have time jumps and see how each of the characters is fairing in their respective fields.
I am looking forward to talking a bit more about how each character’s inner strength starts to show. Until next week my friends.