The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold by Peter V. Brett
The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold are a couple of short stories set within Peter Brett’s ‘Demon Cycle’ universe. Before embarking on the most recent book, The Daylight War, I decided to give these two a go. Both cover an intriguing, and little heard of part, of the ‘Demon Cycle’ narrative; Arlen’s time as a Messenger before his betrayal by Jardir and subsequent rebirth as the ‘Painted Man.’
The first story of the pair follows Arlen’s very first Messanger expedition, in the mountains just outside of Fort Miln. Sent to escort a cart load of explosives to the Duke’s mines, Arlen encounters bandits, a pair of forlorn lovers and a new type of demon which he hadn’t encountered before. This is a fun story, and it’s nice to see Arlen still relatively green and still very human. Brayan’s Gold offers a fairly tight individual story within itself, and doesn’t simply feel like something which was cropped from The Painted Man. We get a nice beginning, middle and end, with this story standing as a possible beginning for Arlen’s path from talented and clever young man to the Deliverer of legend.
The Great Bazaar
Overall, I’d say that this is the stronger story of the two. ‘The Great Bazaar’ is a story is two halves; the first is Arlen’s exploration of an abandoned Krasian village to find the priceless pottery left there, and the second is his return to Fort Krasia and his dealing with the khaffit Abban. Abban is one of my favourite characters in the series, and more of him is always welcome. Much more so than ‘Brayan’s Gold’, this story fills in an essential gap in the narrative of The Painted Man; how Arlen came into the map to the ruins of Anoch Sun, an essential part of his journey into becoming the Deliverer. This leads to the story feeling much less self contained and tight than ‘Brayan’s Gold’ did, but nonetheless this story is probably the most tantalising of the two.
The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold is an interesting little diversion, far from essential but a decent read nonetheless. Don’t rush out and buy it, but if you spot it in a second hand shop like I did, or even cheap from Amazon, it’s worth picking this up and giving it a look.