Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review: The Vagrant by Peter Newman

 The Vagrant 

Synopsis: The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

Date Published: May 1, 2015
Published By: HarperVoyager
Number of Pages: 400
Rating: 4/5

The Vagrant is a story that defies easy categorization. Part fantasy, part science fiction, part horror it all adds up to a unique tale of questing heroes battling monsters and misery along their journey.

Our main hero in this story is The Vagrant, a lone Knight wielding a magical blade and traveling with the most unlikely campanion - a baby girl. It is not revealed until the end how The Vagrant came to care for the child but the bond between them is remarkable. The baby acts as The Vagrant's moral compass - whenever he is tempted to walk away from someone in need of help, the baby gives him a gentle kick in the ribs. It is clear The Vagrant cares for the baby and he does everything he can to protect her. It is incredible to see a traditionally masculine character also be nurturing and gentle. Along the way they encounter Harm, a lonely rebel once tainted by demons. He joins them and the three of them form a loving family. Can we please see more male characters like this? I'm getting pretty tired of the stoic, unemotional antihero.

The Vagrant also sets itself apart by making the reader really work to understand the world. Peter Newman doesn't reveal all of the secrets right away. There's no handy prologue explaining How the World Came to Be. This is an author that Shows rather than Tells. It does make for slow reading at first. It wasn't until I was about 50 pages in that I really got a grasp on the writing style and the story but after that, I was completely sucked in. It is beautifully written, with a surreal, dreamlike quality to it. And you only realize that you care about the characters when you find yourself thinking 'Man, I really hope this character doesn't die.' 

My one critique:  I found some descriptions of the monsters and the demons a bit vague, so it was sometimes difficult to picture them. Also, this book could use a map! Those are small quibbles, though.

The Vagrant is one of the best fantasy books of 2015. I highly recommend it to fantasy fans who are looking for something that will challenge them and has a different take on traditional gender roles and gender dynamics. 

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