The initial fever with the first book has settled down. The time for a categorically objective and critical review is at hand. Desert Spear, is rated 3.5 stars.
For all its worth, I read the second book in a day's worth of time (just as what happened with the first one), somehow though it is not straining credulity when I say that, as with most series I have read so far, book two has a tempered force of impact (I will substantiate this shortly). Nonetheless, I already have the third book within reach, though as a result of book two, I ent sure if i'd be finishing it in a day or too.
So, the nuances.
The world-building is still novel in itself. Demons, wards, magic. There has been no direct nor express statement (rectify me on this if possible) that the past world Brett has chosen to historicize or mythicize is Earth (even considering the base story of the Deliverer). There is however numerous implied clues that it really is Earth or something fundamentally similar, on the idea of sciences, technologies, countries on war, people in billions, etc. It is undeniable at the least. Whatever the case is, the premise has been established. The problem this presents is two-fold. The world-setting is simply too small. Yes the book acknowledges that there are realms beyond of what has been mapped with Brett's story with Arlen saying that he wants to go 'beyond', but the established world is not even a fraction of what should have been given a glimpsed of as an AR post-human-Earth. The topography too is queer. Land masses do not change in three centuries. The dubious point of the premise however is the loss of science and machines in Brett's world that it returned to basic hunting and gathering methods. Even if the new religion claims the destruction came from such technology, people must at least have retained any fraction of scientific advancement beyond the social and political associations considering that they still mine coal, build castles, and fight wars. It is a weak defense to say that books of the ancient world have been monopolized for knowledge of them were not. To say that the world fell into the second dark ages would be a lot more descriptive and even fitting (for as can be seen, people too loss reason and rationale succumbing to an an abstract religion). These arguments, as can be seen, will still hold true even without the premise to stand on. And for all my academic leanings and self-professed enlightenment, I have always seen the use of real-life religions to be degradation in varying degrees when put in fictional print and used as basis, just as what Brett did with Islam fusing the rigid Indian caste system to it.
Brett's strength lies in his character building. He has woven his characters in a systemic manner giving birth to consistent characters one can either genuinely love and utterly hate. For all his character-development however, the plot suffered of languid if not stagnant movement. I mean, after a 700-paged story what do we have? A third if not more of the book dedicated to Jardir's POV of nostalgia, a third to Leesha's failed hooking escapades (which is true no matter how you see it, I would praise Brett to see Leesha just settle once and for all), and a third for Arlen (which is simply too short for any fan of this series Brett!!) with fraction even given to Renna. Knowing that the third book is supposedly written in the POV of Ivenera doesn't help a bit in motivating me in reading it anytime soon. So I guess just as any series out there, writer's really need to stretch the story, after all, it is their living we're being entertained with.
But as I have written earlier, I have the third book within grasp. Thanks to Arlen, and Brett's superb humanization of this inhuman character. The gift of the writer lies in making the reader feel. One could clearly see how heartbreakingly human Arlen is. The disconsolate purpose with which he live his life, the betrayal he suffered, the exuberance he felt returning home, where ever it was, forgiveness to his father, and the desire for companionship. I too felt it or imagined feeling it. Simple, and as cliche as it may sound, yet profound