Archive for May, 2012

Tattoos and virginity

“The first time I showed a woman what I hide under my robe, I got to have sweet consensual sex with a virgin in a pool of mud. True story.”

Ah, what can I say? This is indeed some great reading material, but it’s all been done before. There are no exhilarating plot twists, no characters I found revolutionizing and nothing that will redefine this genre. It’s a journey from point A to point B.

It starts out as most epic fantasy stories, with (all! ALL!) of our three protagonists living in the countryside. They’re young and pre-teen when the book begins and unbelievable as it may sound, they keep their personalities into adulthood. There isn’t much character progression here, none of them have any doubts about what they’re doing and what they think about the world. If Arlen was mad at his father when he was eleven, he’ll keep his resentment well into his late twenties. He won’t come to understand that his father didn’t have any choice and that he was a product of his environments and centuries of oppression. Arlen won’t realize that as one beaten down farmer, there wasn’t much his father could do, apart from getting himself and his family killed.

I found both the major and minor characters to be unsympathetic and painfully onedimensional, and because of this I didn’t expect any plot twists. No loss for me, as there are no plot twists in the book. The only time I was surprised was when Leesha was raped towards the end, but this horrible event didn’t lead to any change in her personality and the whole event was seemingly forgotten some twenty pages later.

The world in the Painted Man may seem interesting but I found it bland and illogical, especially when it comes to the Free Cities. With only glorified postmen and some rare caravans (which were never seen and only mentioned twice) to transport goods between the cities, how are the populations to survive from day to day? The cities are hardly self-sufficient as was mentioned in the book and apparently no one uses the lands outside the walls for agriculture. This is the main problem with big medievalesque cities in fantasy literature. Terry Pratchett addressed this issue once (don’t remember where though…) and mentioned how many farm animals and sacks of grain have to be transported to the city each day just to keep the population alive. And medieval cities neither have factories nor efficient means of transportation, which drastically limits the size of the population. A city of massive size can’t survive for long as it essentially becomes a black hole for all the nearby farmlands. And this is only the food I’m talking about. Then there is the stone and wood for repairs and constructions, finer goods like paper, ink, textiles if no one of those are produced in the city etc etc. The cities in the Painted Man have this problem, plus the apparent lack of daily transportation of goods, yet many can afford to live in luxury..

Then there are the bandits. Travelling on the roads is obviously very dangerous and mostly it’s just armed and dangerous Messengers and caravans who journey from city to city, yet there are still small bands of highwaymen on the roads… I wonder what they do in their spare time…

I didn’t like the ending either, because it has been done numerous times before. Already when Leesha received the letter about the state her home village was in I knew I was about to return to Emond’s Field yet again… And though my hope was reignited for a moment when I thought Arlen was about to be pulled down to the Core for an unorthodox ending, it turned out to be a hoax. So we got to see a black-and-white battle, where our heroic protagonists lead the once scared shitless farmers, who seemingly overnight transformed into brave warriors. It had all the aspects of battles of this kind I loath and despise, complete with former enemies reuniting against the common, soulless foe, children doing their part and cravens picking up weapons in defiance.

Okay, despite these things I didn’t like about the book, it’s still a good read and a (mostly) fast-paced story. I recommend it to avid fantasy readers because this series has the potential to be a big hit. I’m planning to pick up the the next part right away.

Verdict: 6/10


I used to think that this song was way too cheesy. But several years later, after forgetting all the boring stuff that happened in the recent books and only remembering the awesome ride that is the Great Hunt, I think it’s pretty catchy.

In case you missed the title…