Some minor spoilers towards the end of this review. While I felt that Brett's 'The Warded Man' had more than a few flaws, it was a refreshing conflict and world, concept, and had likable, worthwhile characters - enough to override many of the flaws. The concept of a world forced into their homes, protected from night-dwelling demons only by ancient wards that they really know very little about, was interesting, new and clever. Brett's prose fell short of that of a Scott Lynch or Pat Rothfuss, but was comfortable, effective and pleasant. My interpretation of his view on how religion blinds people, especially simple country folks, was something I agreed with, and if his intention was to prove how asinine religion is and how big of an obstacle of progress, then he succeeded.
The main characters are largely believable, human, and interesting. Rojer seemed almost...pointless at times, and got far less attention than the much more intriguing Arlen and Leesha, but I've found far less interesting characters in books to say the least. Arlen's storyline, the main in the book, was fabulous - his growth, his trials, his attitude, and his ascension into unbridled badass was exciting and fun to read and experience. Leesha, while frustrating at times, was a strong character who went through a wide range of life experiences, trauma, and emotions. All in all, good characters, very unique and interesting world that is somewhat small-scale but still well developed, and writing ranging between acceptable and good.
The bad? Frankly, I'm not sure if Mr. Brett has ever met a woman in real life. Every female character from age 12 on thinks of nothing but sex, practically begging men to enter them, exploding with electric pleasure at the slightest touch, begging everyone to fill them with seed and put them with child. The only times they stop thinking of sex is to think of having children, which they seem to pine over nonstop. Spoiler ahoy - the main female character loses her virginity in her late 20s in the form of gang-rape, yet literally *days* later is begging the main character to have sex with her (despite being terrified of and disgusted with him the day before), and even asking him to get her pregnant. Wat?
That aside, it's really more of a quirk than an actual FLAW, just something that bothered me while reading/listening. The overall book is terrific, one I had trouble walking away from and looked forward to getting back to each time. I look forward to getting into the much longer sequel, The Desert Spear, very soon.