Published: 25th April 2013 by HarperVoyager
Format: Hardcover, 121 pages
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Each night the world is overrun by demons. People must hide behind ancient symbols with the power to repel the creatures, if they want to survive. Only a handful of Messengers still brave the darkness to keep the lines of communication open between an increasingly isolated populace.
In Brayan's Gold, Arlen Bales is about to take his first assignment as an apprentice messenger. But instead of a simple overnight journey, he finds himself alone on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo and hunted each night by a giant rock demon.
There was a time when wards allowed a man to fight back, but knowledge of these symbols has been lost for centuries. Arlen Bales believes courage must replace cowardice if man is to have any hope against the plague, and in The Great Bazaar of Krasia, he may just find the key to his heart's desire.
These two short stories take place within the time frame of The Painted Man and almost read like outtakes from the novel. But Brett has ensured that each is self-contained, although its place within a larger framework in never in doubt. Of the two, Brayan’s Gold is my favourite, so let’s start there.
Brayan’s Gold tells of Arlen’s first mission, the first time he has to spend more than two nights outside since his perilous journey to Miln. I was surprised at how much of Arlen’s character Brett has managed to pack into such a short story, and still have enough time for the introduction of a handful of new characters, a new type of demon, and thrilling fight scene. This story has everything, and its short and punchy nature added to my enjoyment. I really liked this short dip into Arlen’s world, and relished the opportunity to relive what Arlen was like before the tattoos, before the world turned him into such a cynic.
The Great Bazaar is a story I dearly wish I had read before I began The Desert Spear – the information in it would have been a lot more interesting prior to all those chapters about Krasia. Still, I liked seeing how Arlen came by the map to Anoch Sun, and witnessing the small victories Abban has in the bazaar as a khafit.
These novellas shed light into the kinds of things that happened to Arlen in the timeline breaks in The Painted Man, and are the perfect read for fans of The Demon Cycle. As the stories are complete, and make sense without the context of the wider series, I would also recommend them to readers who may be unsure whether they want to dive into Brett’s epic series. I really liked them, and now I can’t wait to begin reading the third instalment, The Daylight War!