[Minor SPOILERS towards the end]
My initial reaction was that it seemed a little slow to get going, a bit too much ‘stereotypical’ coming of age to begin with. By around the 35-40% mark though, I found myself massively enjoying it, for a reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time. Having criticized it for being a little slow to get going, I do enjoy coming of age stories when they are done well, and once the characters all find their feet, it was very entertaining.
The Painted Man gathered speed very quickly, with the plot moving along at a fantastic pace. There were areas in which I would perhaps have enjoyed a little more showing rather than telling, where there were instead some not-quite-jarring time jumps. I spent the whole book trying to work out how the three point of view characters would fit together. When they finally came together I was not disappointed.
As a measure, I read the second 50% of the book (some 270 pages) in one sitting, purely because I got caught up in the adventure. In hindsight, the set-up, while slow going at the time, did pave the way for the fantastic, world-altering innovations made by Arlen in particular in the closing chapters.
‘The Painted Man’, by Peter V. Brett is the first in The Demon Cycle.