What or who is ‘The Vagrant’?
The Vagrant is the fantasy debut of Peter Newman. It is set in a bleak world, featuring a protagonist who does not speak for the entirety of the plot. And yet, this book succeeds for me where other narratives with similar ideas like The Road did not. This is, I believe, because The Vagrant shows a powerful thread of hope for humanity throughout its apocalyptic vision.
The interesting protagonist is titled the Vagrant. And despite his lack of dialogue he is an engaging character. Peter Newman writes with sparse and polished prose that shows the reader precisely what the Vagrant is thinking. He is an enigmatic character, created with purpose, as distinct from many such similar characters who exist purely as a gimmick. Or who exist to draw in readers because of the character’s air of mystery.
The writing is poetic, but may not please all readers. Particularly given that Peter Newman dedicates time to expressively describing certain details, but completely disregards others. And yet, through this writing Newman’s powerful author voice shines – separating The Vagrant from many other similar pieces of work that deal in the poetic.
The Plot and World
The plot itself is unfinished in many regards, as this is the beginning of a trilogy arc. And yet, despite this there are many events that happen across the narrative. You have the story of the key protagonist as he travels towards some fabled Shining City. And then there is the story of what happened to the world in the past. This story of the past explores the opening of a Breach allowing demonic entities of gooey essence to escape. In the process they overran the mystical heroes and knights who ran to defend the land. This leads into the formation of this world in which some humans have been tainted by demonic qualities, and other humans who remain pure and true.
The way in which Newman explores this world is simple in many ways. And yet in other ways it is also complex, generating a series of interesting perspectives on what a world populated and controlled by demons would look like. There also appears to be a thematic expression on the concept of leaders doing nothing to prevent the spread of evil. A theme which is entirely relevant in the modern era.
Why you should read ‘The Vagrant’
Some readers may be put off by their perception of a lack of characterisation. Others may find that this novel also bears the hallmarks of many ‘beginning novels’ in any trilogy. Those being a slow pacing and uneven use of certain descriptive techniques. But what this novel lacks in those areas it makes up with beautiful flowing writing and an intriguing setting, told in sparse ways that only share enough detail to inform the reader of the great mystery behind the current aspect of the tale. I recommend this to all seasoned fantasy readers looking for something a little newer than standard fantasy fare. And I will certainly be looking to pick up the sequels in the near future.
This is a review of the audible version of The Vagrant which was nicely narrated and spanned a 13 hour run time for anyone who prefers audiobooks. Although it was also very easy to listen to at twice the speed. I have also mainly focused on the technical literary elements of this book, however which covers the elements that readers and listeners would most appreciate regardless.
Themes and Ideas8.7/10
Unique Plot, Characters or Worlds9.0/10
- Beautifully written with sparse poetic language
- Interesting look at a bleak apocalyptic world
- No info-dumping, a slowly and carefully crafted world with much thought
- Some thought provoking themes and a sense of prevalent hope
- Some might find the choice of tenses and perspectives to be jarring
- Some might find a lack of characterisation
- Slow pace and uneven description at times
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