Jardir, a warrior in the desert Kingdom of Krasia, trains to lead the nightly battle against the demon hordes and fulfill his destiny to unite the kingdoms of humanity against the supernatural threat. The Desert Spear is the second book in Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle, and it tells the story of Jardir, a warrior in the desert land of Krasia, who rises in rank to claim the title of Shar Dama Ka, essentially a Krasian messiah. Instead of picking up where the first book left off, the Desert Spear returns to the beginning of narrative timeline to retell the early events of the Warded Man from Jardir's perspective.
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The world of Brett's Demon Cycle is a fallen one. Elemental demons rise from the earth's core every night to murder and torment the remaining fragments of humanity. The only defense people have against these demons is a set of arcane wards that can seal a location against demonic assault. The only wards known to humanity are defensive in nature, though rumors of ancient combat runes persist among the scholastic class. Villagers hide behind their rune nets every night, but a single scratch or broken line in the magical markings can result in catastrophic demonic invasion.
Jardir lives in Fort Krasia, the only city where people actually fight back against the demons. When he comes of age, he is taken from his mother and raised in a temple of warriors to become a kind of sacred demonslayer called a Dal'Sharum. Jardir excels in combat, quickly overcoming the bigger bullies in the temple and rising to the top his class. He is the first sharum in training selected to join the men of Krasia in their nightly war with the demons, often referred to as "dancing alagai sharak." Alagai is the Krasian word for demon.
Jardir fights bravely during Alagai Sharak, and afterwards his chaperone, an older man who used to bully Jardir, takes him out drinking. Despite the friendly night of bonding with his fellow sharum, Jardir's chaperone takes out to the maze and rapes him. After the rape, Jardir is found by Inevera, a kind of holy sorceress in the Krasian faith. Krasian society is mostly misogynist, but the holy sorceresses, known as Dama'Ting, are treated with the utmost respect. Inevera heals Jardir and they eventually marry.
Jardir quickly rises to become one of the great leaders of the Krasian sharum. The man who raped him winds up under Jardir's command, and Jardir responds in kind, raping the man right back with a broken spear haft. On Jardir's long road to power, Inevera serves the lady Macbeth role, whispering in her man's ear and urging him towards leadership.
At Inevera's behest, Jardir steals the holy Spear of Kaji from a Arlen Bales, the messenger from the greenlands who served as Book 1's protagonist. Arlen is a great warrior in his own right, and Jardir even names him a friend, until the foreigner shows up in Krasia with a spear that can kill demons.
Jardir takes the spear for his own and leaves Arlen for dead in the Krasian desert. He uses the Spear of Kaji to unite the Krasian tribes under one banner and march north to first conquer the greenlands and then unite all of humanity against the demon hordes. He claims the messianic title, Shar Dama Ka.
With the narrative arc caught up to the end of Book 1, the story returns to Arlen, the messenger and demon killer with combat wards tattooed all over his skin; Leesha Paper, the buxom medicine woman from cutter's hollow; and Rojer, the bard with the ability to control demons with his fiddle playing.
The people of the greenlands look to Arlen much in the same way the Krasians look to Jardir. Arlen wants to teach Leesha's people to fight back against the demons, but he is a much more reluctant messiah than Jardir. Alren travels the greenlands, attempting to bring the combat wards to the people of the world. His journey brings him back to his home town of Tibbet's Brook where he rescues his childhood friend Renna. Before Arlen's arrival Renna murdered her rapist father. The people of her town refuse to believe her account and plan to leave her staked to the ground for the demon's to consume.
Arlen and Renna leave Tibbet's Brook together and become lovers. Arlen begins teaching Renna how to fight demons. At the end of the novel, Renna and Arlen return to Cutter's Hollow and are reunited with Leesha and Rojer where the four begin creating an army of greenlanders to resist the demon horde.
Best part of story, including ending:
The extended retelling of the first half of the story from Jardir's perspective is a little plodding, but it's fascinating to learn more about Krasian culture.
Best scene in story:
Inevera finds Jardir in the Krasian maze after Jardir has been raped and nurses him back to mental and physical health. She already knows at this point that Jardir is her soulmate and that she will help him lead the Krasian resistance against the demons.
Opinion about the main character:
Jardir is powerful combat leader, but his betrayal of Arlen and theft of the Spear of Kaji make him a more challenging protagonist to root for.