The Vagrant is Peter Newman’s debut novel published in 2015 and I didn’t have the slightest idea what to expect walking into this. The story takes place over a thousands years after the destruction of humanity and mankind has been pushed to the farthest reaches of the map. The sense of dread, loss, and destruction across the landscape made the grim atmosphere come to life in an amazing way. However, none of this can compare to the pure brilliance of Peter Newman writing an extraordinary main character known only as the Vagrant. I promise that you haven’t read a story like this in the fantasy genre and I absolutely loved every minute of it!
As I mentioned before, humanity has been mostly obliterated by the emergence of The Breach, unleashing the invaders with chaos and destruction across the land. The enemy has since receded back into The Breach, but it is being constantly watched for the enemies return. The day never came and over the centuries mankind started to believe that the enemy would never return, until a thousand years later the invaders return and the last remnants of mankind must fight before it is too late. These are all events that happen in the background for the most part in this story as we are following the character of the Vagrant. 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. All the while Peter Newman throws in the little wrinkle that the Vagrant is a mute!
Yes you heard that right, the Vagrant is a mute and we are following his story, written in the third person with no conversation from our main character. Let me explain how difficult this task is to achieve, think about your favorite character in all of literature and it doesn’t have to be a fantasy character. Now imagine that character doesn’t speak throughout the entire book and what changes would need to be made so that the story could work. This goal takes tremendous foresight, creativity, and patience from the author and I am please to say he pulled it off. Since we don’t get the Vagrants perspective of events, we are relying on other characters and the Vagrants expressions to drive the story. The closest thing I can think of in fantasy to this is George R.R Martin writing Bran. For those who don’t know, Bran early in the books loses function of his legs and he is reliant on others to move him around from place to place. It is not a apples to apples comparison but I think the creativity from Peter Newman is on par with George R.R Martin.
The story does have two times lines showing us the Vagrant in the present and the past. The past chapters gave us great insight into who the Vagrant is and why he is on his current mission to the Shining City. Getting use to Peter Newman’s writing style was a little jarring at first as but it’s very good, sharp, efficient, full of observation and pleasing turns of phrase. I should also mention that the Vagrant comes across a goat in this story and he provide a much needed comic relief to the story. I laughed out load several times while reading this novel. The story ends on a good vibe, setting up book 2 nicely as I would very much enjoy continuing this series.
Readers looking for a grim adventure story with plenty of mystery and one of kind main character, please give this a try. Just the execution of the Vagrant himself is reason enough to pick up this book and makes me eager for more. Congratulations on your debut novel Mr. Newman.