The third book in Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle* was released a couple of months ago. In preparation for reading that volume–The Daylight War–I reread books 1 and 2 (The Warded Man; The Desert Spear). Those are two of the best books in Modern Epic Fantasy, ranking only slightly below Martin and Rothfuss in my opinion. As I re-read them over the last couple of weeks I was reminded of how rich a world and detailed multiple plots Brett had produced.
The Daylight War was written and published after Game Of Thrones began airing on HBO. And so far the book has had the Sex Factor amped up by a thousand. I’m only 30% into the book but I’ve been reminded at least 17 times (by my Kindle’s count) of how scantily-clad Renna Tanner is. The book opens with talk of a gay orgy. Lesbians are introduced in Chapter three and kept around for good measure. There is the promise of a threesome in the future as one character has two sexy underage girls (okay, maybe they just turned 18) as his brides.
I have no problem with sex in fiction (or in real life). Most of the books I read have sex in them at some point, either overtly described or discretely alluded to. But this is something different. This book feels like Brett, his editor, his publisher or some combination of the three–and perhaps the fellow who holds the movie rights also–saw Season One of Game Of Thrones with all its over the top sexpositon and wankbank scenes and then decided that’s what Fantasy READERS are buying now. So far the titillation and outright sex feels forced, wedged in, crammed in every possible orifice of the novel. Scenes that have nothing to do with sex but are rather about the politics or religion of the story begin by reminding us that at least one of the characters in the room is scantily-clad and quite possibly going to have sex with somebody else in the room later on. I feel like Brett is saying “Hold on, gang. I know this isn’t what you came for (I can’t stop with the puns) but hold on. We’ll get through this soon and there will be The Good Stuff later.”
I’m 42. I think it’s safe to say that it has been a good 32 years since I flipped through a book to look for “the dirty parts”. I read stories. If the story has sex in it as a matter of course, okay. This? This book feels like it got fed through a Marketing machine and the Marketing machine was reprogrammed by a 15-year-old boy.
*The first and second books were advertised as Book 1 and Book 2 of The Demon Trilogy. They sold well enough, I suspect, that instead of wrapping things up with Book 3, the series has now mutated into The Demon Cycle. It’s a projected five books, but whose to say? I have a feeling the Cycle will be as many books as Brett can sell well. And that grates on me as the quality suffers from the gumstretching.