The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fifteen years have passed since humanity won the war with demonkind. Many believe demons are extinct and that many of the exploits of the saviors of humanity are purely fiction. Things are peaceful and that's the world Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in. The hardest part for them is being the children of legends. Both struggle with the expectations placed on them and do their best to meet them. However one night when both Olive and Darin step off the greatwards, they learn the demons aren't all gone and the world isn't nearly as safe as they thought.
I'm honestly full of mixed emotions about The Desert Prince. Stepping back into the world of the Demon Cycle so soon after the events of The Core seemed to present challenges for Peter V. Brett and I didn't love the way he handled them all.
The book undoubtedly had some good parts. The theme of the characters learning who they are is a prominent one. Olive was born as an intersex individual and assigned the sex of female because the alagai hora believed it provided her a better chance of survival. Olive has fully visible, and by Leesha's belief, working male and female parts. This presents a challenge as the world has been told Olive is woman. She has to hide her male parts and often must stay away from the eyes of others. It leaves her feeling isolated and unsure of herself. Darin has limited control of his powers and every morning is like fire on his skin as the sun rises. People expect to see the Deliverer Arlen Bales in Darin, but he is quiet and withdrawn. He doesn't like to fight. Both Olive and Darin fear they are disappointments.
Some other strong parts are every prominent Demon Cycle character is mentioned outside of Ragen and Briar. Most are seen if only for a short while. Doing that helped Brett balance making the book accessible to a new reader as well as involving those who read the Demon Cycle. The fighting is intense and crisp. Much more sharusak, hand to hand fighting, is seen than magical attacks.
Unfortunately there were quite a few negatives for me, most prominently being this story is young adult through and through. This was hard for me as I loved the Demon Cycle, so seeing things be handed over to the children was challenging. Still after finishing the book, it's hard to imagine the heroes of the prior series even needing the help of the children to succeed. While the characters learning who they are is a good thing, it's also a significant aspect of young adult stories.
As a reader who read all the Demon Cycle books and novellas multiple times, having the point of view shift to the first person point of view of Olive and Darin was frustrating. It's like seeing the Demon Cycle from the kids table. We are getting a new perspective, but from the young teenage protagonists as they learn about their world. The kids, especially Olive, learned new things that were large aspects of the earlier books. I get it's helpful for the new reader, but I just wanted to skip those parts.
I didn't like the strange mix of passivity and privilege displayed by Darin and Olive. Due to the world being so safe, Darin seems more content to hide in a shady spot than to learn anything about Demon fighting. Olive is being pushed into being a duchess and focused entirely on female things, despite the fact she has a world changing secret hiding in her bido. Olive is largely unprepared for the real world while Darin is running and hiding from it. I don't love either of them as protagonists, but I find Darin slightly more intriguing.
The Desert Prince isn't what I expected, but out of my love for the world I'm sure I'll continue in the series.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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