Published in the US in 2009, Peter V. Brett’s debut novel The Warded Man (titled The Painted Man in the UK and elsewhere) was released to broad acclaim, considered one of the best debut novels in years. I’ve become somewhat cautious about epic fantasy in recent years. I have less time to read than I once did and I fear, perhaps irrationally, getting bogged down in a mediocre series that the completist in me will feel obligated to finish. I often find myself waiting until the hubbub dies down before reading a well-received book. It avoids the possibility of being caught up in fan fervor (which I am vulnerable to when it comes to fantasy), and I find I am able to keep a more level head that way.
When I finally picked up The Warded Man, I had no preconceptions of it, which meant I had accomplished my goal of avoiding hype. What I found was a strong, if flawed debut novel that strikes a refreshing balance between the classic elements of fantasy and the newer, darker trend the subgenre is currently riding.