Briar Damaj is the son of a former Sharum warrior or demon fighter from the Desert Spear and, at 6 years-old, his father takes him outside to teach him the dance to evade demons. After this first encounter with demons, Briar starts to get nightmares, convinced that the demons have found their way inside the house, despite the carefully drawn wards that are in place to protect them. One night, tragedy strikes the Damaj household and Briar, blaming himself, runs away. Ragen the Messenger passes through the town of Bogton shortly after and desperately searches for Briar with the aid of the local priest. Believing him dead in the demon-filled night, Ragen heads home but, years later, news arrives that takes him back to Bogton in search of a miracle.
‘Messenger’s Legacy’ is a novella set in Peter V. Brett’s world of the ‘Demon Cycle’ and features characters that will be familiar to anyone who has read the main novels in this series. Delving further into the history of Briar Damaj and telling a tale from Ragen’s past, it is a story that both fills in some gaps and adds another dimension to the main story arc.
The amount of depth that Brett manages to get into his short stories and novellas never ceases to amaze me and ‘Messenger’s Legacy’ is no exception. We get a real feel for the small town of Bogton, with its varied characters, the prejudices and politics that dominate the lives of the folk who live there and the day to day happenings that form the majority of most of the inhabitants’ experiences. With Ragen’s tales added to that, we’re also given a glimpse of how vast the world outside Bogton is and how much he feels that people miss out on by staying in their home towns all their lives.
As you might expect, we also encounter demons in this tale and there are some nice little snippets of information about them that add to the things we’ve already learned in other books. The demon dance, a sure-fire way of evading demons for a short time due to their stupidity and predictability, was really interesting and I found myself swaying along with Briar as he went left, then right, then left again and caught the demon’s interest. Little titbits of information about other ways to drive off demons and the ways in which humans can survive the nights really help to make the demons seem more human, less intimidating and adds an element of hope that one day perhaps people won’t live in such all-consuming fear.
As with the other books published in this series of limited editions from Subterranean Press, ‘Messenger’s Legacy’ is a pretty small book for the money, but for avid fans of the series it’s one that’s worth adding to the collection. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed getting stuck into Brett’s world and my only disappointment was that it ended so quickly.
(pub: Subterranean Press2014. 131 page deluxe hardback. Price: $25.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-698-4)