|My initial reaction to the arrival of The
Daylight War in the mail was "Its a brick", and at 802 pages
and a good 5cm thick, it very definitely is. Its taken me a while to read it as
well, because unlike some, I did not find Bretts style especially compelling.
Dont get me wrong, the man can string words together well enough, his prose is
nicely descriptive, and his characters are rich and complex. And he does have some clever
ideas, notably in the way his magic works, including an innovative use for polyhedral
dice. I also liked his use of the naturally occurring alloy electrum as the "magic
metal" as opposed to the invented materials we commonly see in fantasy novels.
there are problems with the structure both of the world Brett has created and of the novel
itself. Bretts map doesnt have a scale, but travel times suggest this
isnt a huge area, so is this "the last bastion of humanity" or is
there a "rest of the world"? In any case, the geography doesnt make much
sense. Rivers dont just split randomly as they flow down from the mountains, and
deserts form in the rain shadow of mountains, not simply to the south of forests.
Brett has three societies in conflict. To the south there is a desert people with an
"Arabian Nights" culture, to the north is a wild western medieval people
inhabiting temperate forests and grasslands, and then there are the alien corelings who
are the principal antagonist in the series. Where the corelings come from isnt
clear, though there are hints that their appearance caused the downfall of an earlier more
technological civilisation. However, this cant be our world, simply because nowhere
is there any geography, physical or social, that remotely matches. I also have difficulty
understanding how humanity could have survived for so many centuries with the depredation
of nightly attacks by the demonic corelings.
The novel itself doesnt flow that well either, mainly because the narrative
frequently jumps both in place and in timeframe, something that I found quite
disconcerting, and forcing me to keep checking the chapter heading to figure out when it
was set. For example, the prologue got me interested in one character, Inevera, growing up
in the desert society, then chapter one jumped forward thirty years into the future, to
the main characters from the earlier novels, with their annoying "western"
It isnt until chapter 7 that the narrative returns to Inevera, having visited
various other groups of characters on the way. Around chapter 20 the novel reaches its
first climax, with the wedding of two major characters followed by a major battle for the
northerners. The southerners get to their climatic fight in chapter 27 after a bit more
arguing. This is followed by a very odd dénouement where one major character decides to
have it out with another, and then the book ends, very abruptly on a very literal
cliffhanger. If Id been the editor, Id have sent the manuscript back for a
good solid re-write with a view to straightening out the narrative, and losing a whole lot
of excess verbiage. Oh, and Brett doesnt believe in "drawing the curtain",
so this is most definitely an adult novel in both senses of the word.
Some of the difficulties I have with The Daylight War result
from the fact that this is not simply the third book in a series its the
third part of what is in effect one enormous multi-volume novel. This is a tendency in
fantasy writing I find deplorable, and Bretts blatant attempt to taunt readers into
buying the next book by causing them to wonder what will happen next, frankly isnt
going to work on this reader. He has not succeeded in getting me interested enough to
care, and I have better (and shorter) books to read