Peter V. Brett's The Painted Man (Canada, USA, Europe) -- The Warded Man in North America -- has been sitting in my "books to read" pile for months. I'm very keen to read, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. My bad, I know. . .
Anyway, when I learned that Subterranean Press would be publishing a novelette set in the same universe, I realized that this was a great opportunity to sample Brett's work. And based on what you can find between the covers of The Great Bazaar and Other Stories, I'd say it's the perfect companion book to Brett's fantasy debut. If you are eagerly awaiting the release of the sequel, The Desert Spear, than this novelette will definitely whet your appetite.
Mankind has been brought on the brink of annihilation. Every night, the world is overrun by demons bent on destroying humanity. A small number of hamlets and city-states protected by wards are all that remains of civilization. But long ago, wards existed that not only kept the demons at bay, but allowed mankind to fight back. Messenger Arlen Bales explores the world in search of that ancient and powerful magic.
The Great Bazaar and Other Stories essentially takes place during the 3-year gap between chapters 16 and 17 of The Painted Man, at a time when Arlen is a Messenger traveling throughout the Free Cities. It shines some light on how Arlen managed to find the fabled city of Anoch Sun.
Although it's part of a larger tale, the novelette can easily be read as a stand-alone. Still, I reckon it will work much better as a companion book than as an introduction to Peter V. Brett's series. Indeed, I don't know many people who would purchase a limited edition novelette prior to reading The Painted Man, especially since they cost about the same price.
In addition, the book features two deleted scenes from The Painted Man, with the author's notes on why they didn't make the final cut. The first scene was the original prologue featuring Arlen, while the second scene showcases Brianne and takes place in chapter 13. Finally, there is a glossary as well as a grimoire.
All in all, The Great Bazaar and Other Stories is comprised of a lot of material which should appeal to fans of the series. It's difficult to assess just how interesting the novelette is in the greater scheme of things, but I know it made me even more curious about The Painted Man than before.
Perhaps it's time to move it up in the rotation. . .
The final verdict: 7.5/10
For more info about this title, check out the Subterranean Press website.