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Brent Weeks was born and raised in Montana. He wrote on bar napkins and lesson plans before landing his dream job years and thousands of pages later. Brent lives in Oregon with his wife, Kristi, and their daughter. Find out more about the author at www.brentweeks.com or on twitter @brentweeks.
Brent Weeks was born and raised in Montana. After getting his paper keys from Hillsdale College, Brent had brief stints walking the earth like Caine from Kung Fu, tending bar, and corrupting the youth. (Not at the same time.) He started writing on bar napkins, then on lesson plans, then full time. Eventually, someone paid him for it. Brent lives in Oregon with his wife, Kristi. He doesn't own cats or wear a ponytail.
Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks is the third and final novel in the Night Angel Trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is titled The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy) and the second is titled Shadow's Edge (The Night Angel Trilogy). As I read this novel, I began to become more and more depressed; simply because I knew that with each page I turned I was that much closer to the end of such a wonderful trilogy. While Mr. Weeks may be a new author, there is nothing beginner about his writing or stories. Here are my thoughts on this novel.
The plot of this novel feels different from the first two books. Where the first two books were more intimate in setting and scope, in this book the reader is really introduced to the world of Midcyru. Readers begin to understand the vast and storied history of the world and each region within the world. The one aspect that I liked above all others in regards to the plot was things that were hinted at, and briefly talked about during the first two novels rear their head and are explained in great detail in this book. Normally, in this section of my reviews I give a rather brief idea of what to expect in terms of plot. However, with this novel, I don't think that's really possible as so many things happen in this novel. What I can say is if you have read the first two books in this trilogy and can think of a plot line that has yet to be resolved; it is resolved in this book. Yet, not all plot lines are resolved in ways that readers would want, or expect, them to be resolved. Mr.Read more ›
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To Weeks's credit, this entire trilogy was extremely entertaining and difficult to put down. That said, it certainly had a few problems.
The foremost of said problems is that, in several instances, things simply happen with no explanation whatsoever. Occurrences that have been built up to and leave a reader anxious to read on are simply resolved in a paragraph with no real explanation of the middleground between the onset of the problem and its resolution. While I understand it was probably a product of length guidelines, this came off as being resultant of Weeks writing himself into a conflict that he couldn't write himself out of, which makes for utterly disappointing reading. It seems to me that a few more months in the drafting stages could have fixed up these problems.
I read a blog written by Brandon Sanderson in which he stresses the importance of an author having an intimate understanding of his magic systems, so as to make them more real to readers. While certain elements of Weeks's magic systems are concrete and understandable, too often they seem to have too few boundaries and too little explanation.
Finally, the ending of the book -- of the trilogy -- is, frankly, pretty silly. Being an avid reader of fantasy, I don't use that term lightly, but here it is deserved. A solid conclusion is there, but a final twist is thrown in unnecessarily, and silliness ensues.
Given all of that, some of the character development is fantastic, the world-building is outstanding, and Weeks is just plain fun to read. It's worth your time if you can see past its faults.
This review is intended to cover the entire trilogy, although I will mention specific aspects of the final novel. Warning: spoilers within.
I struggled as to whether to give the trilogy a 3 or 4 star rating. It is hugely entertaining to read. It never bogged down, the characters were engaging, and it was at least adequately original. I didn't hesitate to buy the second and third books after reading the first. But ultimately I'm not sure whether I will read more of Mr. Weeks' work. I had two complaints, both of which may seem like nit-picks... but in a fantasy genre with so many options available, I can be picky.
1. There are occasional, jarring shifts in the tone of the writing. I'm not talking about the liberal use of profanity - I find it quite realistic that criminals, soldiers, etc. in a fantasy world would swear just like contemporary criminals, soldiers, etc. However, outside of the profanity, Weeks generally uses the slightly anachronistic language common to fantasy novels. Except when he doesn't. And sometimes "except when he doesn't" comes at a sufficiently random time to knock me right out of his universe.
2. Spoiler... I objected to the deus ex machina ending. Dragging all the characters to the final battle felt forced and artificial. It seemed like Weeks himself felt that it was forced and artificial, with characters just showing up in the allies' command tent as if on cue. And it all wrapped up far too neatly, especially considering that the series was quite dark at inception. The picture-perfect ending also undermines the moral ambiguity that was one of the more compelling themes in the series. Throughout the series we were invited to question whether the ends justified the means.Read more ›
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