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(Demon Cycle #5.5)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  651 ratings  ·  63 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Peter V. Brett returns to his groundbreaking Demon Cycle series with this enthralling novella—the latest story set in his much-loved fantasy world.

Each night, the world is overrun by bloodthirsty demons. For centuries, humanity survived only by hiding behind defensive wards—magical symbols with the power to repel the demons. Now, the redis
ebook, 105 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by Harper Voyager (first published September 20th 2018)
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Peter Good catch. Looks like it was fixed. Of course, half of it takes place 25 years before The warded Man, so it could also be considered 0.5

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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  651 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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Jul 23, 2018 marked it as don-t-count
AKA: "Brett's Attempt to Correct for Gratuitous Anti-Female Plot Points In His First Book"

(view spoiler)
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Review first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with two of my co-reviewers' 3.5 star reviews):

Notwithstanding the publicity materials for this novella, I’m here to say that Barren is not, in fact, a particularly satisfactory entry point for the DEMON CYCLE series. (I’ll also attest to the fact that I found the dialect, especially the repeated use of the word “ent” for “ain’t,” annoying.) I’m a complete newbie to the series, but when I unexpectedly received a review copy of this novella, it loo
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Tibbet's Brook has embraced the arrival of the fighting wards. The Brook has formed a militia and many of the town's elders have reaped the rewards of magic by growing younger once more. Selia Square, the woman known as Barren, is one such woman. The return of her youth has rekindled many parts of her. Selia seeks love in the arms of a young woman while trying to protect the Brook from the coming demon swarm.

Barren was an interesting story that really highlighted the life or Selia. When I first
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
First time I started it, I couldn’t get past the relationship between Selia, almost 70 years old and Lesa, barely 20. Second time, I said to myself: ok, ignore that and focus on the story instead. And it worked.

This is the story of Selia, the Barren. If you read the main series, you’ll know her from there. She is a great character, always helping others and trying to do justice for everyone. However, I was not that much interested in her story as I was in the fights against the demons.

I understo
Marc Rasp
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this novella. We get to journey back to Tibet’s Brook and hear more of Selia’s tale and how she never gives up helping the town. I’ve enjoyed all of the novellas that have accompanied the Demon cycle. I personally think this is the best of them. I think it must be difficult writing a book that takes place in a world that doesn’t respect differences, much like our world, but Peat finds a way to do it in a way that works out. Looking forward to the next cycle.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, favorites
I won an ARC of Barren in a fan art contest.
I read the entire book in one sitting. It was incredible and I feel like I need some time to process everything that happened in such a small story. Barren has earned a place as one of two tiny blue novellas which are very close to my heart.
Reggie Kray
Nope. I don’t care about another’s sexuality. It’s personal. What I do care about - a 20 year old with a partner who is in her 60s. Some may call it love. I call it fucking disgusting. But to each their own, right? This stained the adoration I had for the Demon Cycle. Many reviews claimed this to be a money grab. I reluctantly agree.
Jon Adams
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I missed this series. This is a great return.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tired.......poor! Disgrace!

An absolute disgrace to read this book in line with the other books. Money making drivel!! No proper plot, characters thin with no substance! Why DO author's do this?? Ruin perfectly fine stories by extending its draw! YOU have told the story! Move on to different pastures! You're ruining your hard earned reputation, from great books, to drivel!!
DO NOT waste your time and money on this essay, marked at a D-! With a see me after class note!
Adron Buske
The short version:
If Little House on the Prairie existed in a grim world of nightly demon attacks, Barren’s Selia Square would be a venerable but beleaguered Laura Ingalls, protecting a rural community against a backdrop of social politics and persecution over her own sexuality.

* * * * *

I waver between 3 and 3.5 stars. I think a long-time fan of the Demon Cycle series will find much more to enjoy here. That said, it was still a compelling narrative and, after several chapters of complete
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella-short
A nice return to Thesa, here. Mind blowing? No. Cool and easy to read? Yes. And in some ways, I found this more enjoyable than The Core.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars with an average of 7/10
My rating system:
1 star: 1.0-2.9/10
2 stars: 3.0-5.4/10
3 stars: 5.5-7.0/10
4 stars: 7.1-9.0/10
5 stars: 9.1-10/10
Rating based on characters, plot, and writing (2X).

Characters 8/10
We follow Selia, a character who is town speaker in the township Arlen was born (Tibbet's Brook) and her story in past and present. I thought she was a very interesting character, because she is a lesbian, in this world it's called a square girl and her struggles with it throughout time. The
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; thank you Harper Voyager. And I wish I could honestly give this book a good write up but it seems to magnify all of the problems that I’ve had with Brett’s Demon Cycle - two-dimensional characters and simplistic YA-like prose and plot (and I love a good YA novel). I could hear the gears grinding as the author moved the plot along. This very short novella takes place in the shadow of the main events of the Demon Wars but some ...more
Samuel Wood
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy from HarperVoyager in exchange for an honest review.

I've loved this world since I first picked up The Desert Spear of all books (made for an interesting experience, going back to read book one) and getting an opportunity like this to dig into the world and the minor characters that make it feel real, that people live in it, was amazing.

Set during the messy business of the last couple books of the Demon Cycle, Barren focuses on Arlen Bales' hometown and the trials they fac
Bob Reiss
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the problems with epic fantasy series is that as the story progresses and the world gets bigger, often the smaller tales slip through the cracks. In Barren, Brett brings us back into the world of his Demon Cycle and gives us a small glimpse at how the town that was the original home of Arlen Bales has progressed. Its great to return to this world and see look at how these characters have developed. Plus, plenty of demon killing action. Narrator Xe Sands delivers a solid performance. At ti ...more
Craig Evans
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dark, brutal and once again bloody brilliant! Pun intended! One of my all time favourite authors. Superb writing that’s a joy to read.
Rick Brose
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I disagree with anyone that has said this feels like a cash in. It is a strong story that adds history to a small, but important part of the world. Along with that, it tackles themes of sexuality and prejudice in a way that felt authentic. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the series and has completed the main novels.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short, but a lovely companion to the demon cycle, and answered a few questions I had as well as some I hadn't thought of
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's well written, i'll give it that. However, after finishing reading, I was left asking myself why this was written in the first place.

The main character in Barren is Selia, the speaker from Tibbets Brook. She was a voice of reason in a town gone crazy during the demon cycle books and she seemed pretty damn cool. An unrelated note was that she liked women, this was a bit of flavor added to the character. It was cool.

Guess what? This book is about Selia liking women. That's it. Granted, it's
Matt Reno
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Not one of the better entries in the series. It feels like he was trying to make up for the way people reacted to his female characters in book one than anything else
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: publisher-gift
3.5 Stars

Upon accepting to review this novella, I read the first two books in the Demon Cycle series to try to learn about the setting, the magic system, and frankly to gather my own thoughts about a series that I've seen alternately praised and reviled by readers as stunning but filled with violence, especially sexual violence. I can definitely say that The Painted/Warded Man and Desert Spear are violent books, with ample sexual violence (female and male rape). I also took time to read an AMA o
Patrick St-Denis
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I continue to be way behind on my Peter V. Brett reading, with no excuse to offer to explain this. And now that the sequence is complete, I figure I will have to do something about this sooner rather than later. Still, having enjoyed all of the author's previous novellas, I was happy to give Barren a shot when I was offered an early read.

If, like me, you are not up to date with Brett's Demon Cycle, keep in mind that this novella contains minor spoilers as to what has been taking place in the mai
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The stories of the Demon Cycle series continue with the novella Barren. The book focuses on Tibbet’s Brook and speaker Selia Square. It’s a different look at the factions and politics of the Brook, as well as a much deeper look at Selia, the Town Speaker. The story covers the events leading up to the big battle as the mind demon’s rise to the surface and bring war to the humans. It also touches on some areas of the past as it explores Selia’s young adulthood before she ever became Town Speaker.

Kristi Weisgerber
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
While attending the When Words Collide writers conference in Calgary this past weekend (August 10 - 12) I got the chance to meet one of my favorite authors: Peter V. Brett. He is the author of the Demon Cycle series - a high fantasy series that I would say is one of the best out there. If you haven’t read it, you really need to.

Because I follow him on Twitter, I knew that he was giving away copies of Barren - a short story set in the Demon Cycle world that wasn’t part of the core story. I decide
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received a free advance review copy of this title from the publisher.

Structurally, the novella moves back and forth between Selia’s past, where she lives with her parents, and helps her mother run the local school, and the present where she serves as Speaker, and lives alone, but risks exposure to the community by taking up with a woman five decades her junior. Given the short length of the book, Selia is the only character who feels significantly developed, though by the end I fel
I read the first two books in the Warded Man series back in 2011. I really enjoyed them, but somehow lost track of the rest of the books. Barren has been a good re-introduction to the world of the core demons and how wardings work, but you don't really need to have read any of the other books in the series to appreciate this novella.

Barren is Speaker Selia's story, with two main threads. One set in the present as the town faces new threats from core demons, and one set 50 years earlier with Seli
William Bentrim
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Barren by Peter V. Brett

This is a novella which surprisingly does not mean a small nova. If you have read any of my reviews you have to be aware that my sense of humor is an acquired taste. The book takes place as part of the Demon Cycle that is Brett’s bread and butter. Selia, the town speaker, is forced to defend both her body and her reputation as the demons demonstrate new threats.

The author attacks preconceived notions on sexuality. He does a very good job on showing why prejudice is short
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won an advanced reader copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It was an enjoyable and solid if unspectacular read.

It was fun to revisit Brett's world and the characters of Tibbet's Brook. As I had read the rest of the Demon Cycle some time ago, it took a bit of time to remember the various characters, and I'm not sure I ever fully recalled the intricacies of their relationships and individual stories. However, those concerns faded as the pace and action picked up about halfway through. Th
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I thought this was prequel when I picked it up so I thought it would be focused more on world building. Instead the names and characters of secondary characters all kind of ran together and the concept of magic and demons took time to get a hold of. Plus the references to Renna are ambiguous since I have not read the previous books.

The story focuses on the town Speaker, leader and protector of the town from demons and each other. It covers demon fighting, forbidden love, buried
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always, I really enjoy Peter V. Brett's writing, but the thing that makes this novella really interesting is the knowledge that it was effectively written in response to the criticism of The Demon Cycle and how it mishandles its female characters at times. With that in mind I feel that Barren does a fine job of repairing a bit of that damage, while remaining a really entertaining read the whole way through.

Overall I'd say that this isn't essential reading if you're working through this series
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Peter V. Brett is the internationally bestselling author of the Demon Cycle series, which has sold over two million copies in 25 languages worldwide. Novels include The Warded Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War, The Skull Throne, and The Core. Other works include the Red Sonja: Unchained graphic novel and the Demon Cycle novellas The Great Bazaar, Brayan's Gold, Messenger's Legacy, and Barren ...more

Other books in the series

Demon Cycle (5 books)
  • The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)
  • The Desert Spear (Demon Cycle, #2)
  • The Daylight War (Demon Cycle, #3)
  • The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle, #4)
  • The Core (The Demon Cycle, #5)