I binge read all Brett’s work in the Demon Cycle series—novels and novellas included—within a month; that’s in total more or less ten years of his work and I can say with confidence that The Core is his best work, yes, even more spectacular than his debut, The Warded Man.
If you’ve at least read The Desert Spear, you’ll most likely know what’s in store for you; Sharak Ka (the great war against the demonkind) is finally here. Brett has teased us with the existence of this war since the second book, and the fourth book in the series itself can be viewed as a complete preparation installment for this finale. He delivered on his promise like the Deliverer. Not only was the final war with the demons to end this cycle gripping, this is also hands down the darkest and most violent book in the series to date. Some events in this book make a lot of grimdark fantasy seem tame in comparison. I’m talking about a man who eats penis, literally; this book has the highest count of genital mutilation in a single book I’ve ever read.
One of the most important qualities that I found missing in the third and fourth books was the tension produced by the fear of the night or the demons. In the first book, it was scary just to leave any village or cities at night; any demonic appearances brought a sense of fear to the reader. This emotion dissipated as the series progressed, which made the series lack tension for me. However, I’m very pleased to say that the tension and fear I missed are back in full force. Every kind of demon makes an appearance in Sharak Ka, and to see the humans finally struggle again in the fight against the demons made a huge difference in quality from the previous books. Plus, this is also the most action-packed installment in the series; once the book reached its halfway point, you will be treated to hundreds of pages of actions with a gradual increase in tension until the well-written climax sequences.
I won’t lie, I had my doubts about this book because I had mixed feelings about the third and the fourth book of the series. The changes in storytelling directions, with the long flashback inclusions and some of the character development through stupid decisions, were infuriating to read. Luckily, it all paid off in a big way here, all of those writing decisions made this conclusion more impactful.
The entire series spanned around thirty years and we’ve seen some of the characters growth from their childhood. Brett made sure that every single character has a role in this finale. With the knowledge of the characters' pasts, flaws, and the obstacles they had to go through to survive in this harsh world, the realization of how meaningless their conflicts, politics, and squabbles in the face of Sharak Ka felt more meaningful. There are no loose ends for the main characters and the way everyone comes together, despite all their differences, to protect their loved ones and have a chance in the upcoming battle is something I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
“We can spend eternity questioning the past, but it is the future we must look to.”
I don’t think I can ask for anything else out of this book; as a conclusion it did everything right for the last book of a series. I do, however, think that the ending ended a bit abruptly. Rather than only a six-page epilogue, I can’t help but feel that a longer exposition would make this book have a more lasting impact. This, however, is just a minor peeve of mine and it didn’t change the overall greatness of the book.
For the fans of the series, I can assure you that the wait for The Core will be worth it and that you won’t regret reading this conclusion. For anyone who had their doubts like me, Brett will prove you wrong with this book. The finale of this series is truly worth your journey, and this is coming from someone who actually has mixed feelings on the third and the fourth books. I’ve answered the call of the Core; it’s time for you to do the same and experience the amazing conclusion to this series that the Deliverer, Peter V. Brett, has delivered.
YOU CAN PRE-ORDER THE BOOK HERE