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The Way of Shadows: The Night Angel Trilogy: Book 1 Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2008
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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"What a terrific story! I was mesmerized from start to finish. Unforgettable characters, a plot that kept me guessing, non-stop action and the kind of in-depth storytelling that makes me admire a writer's work." --- Terry Brooks
"Kylar is a wonderful character - sympathetic and despicable, cowardly and courageous, honorable and unscrupulous...a breathtaking debut!" --- Dave Duncan
About the Author
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 daughters. Find out more about the author at www.brentweeks.com or on twitter @brentweeks.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The character development is literally nonexistent. You can't really connect with any of the characters because they're never fully realized. For a relatively long book, the author doesn't spend enough time defining the world and the protagonist. Okay, he's a gutter rat and he has two friends and they all long to get out of the gutter. That's basically what you have and that's it. I kept wanting the author to explore that world a bit more or to define Azoth and his friends, but that never really happens. They're really just names on a page.
I see some of the bad reviews for this work mentioning it being cliched. That it follows the traditional tropes of fantasy of a poor boy being destined for greater things etc., but that doesn't bother me. I can handle cliches as long as the writer creates an interesting world, fun characters and some nifty twists and turns. The author misses on all counts. I don't expect every author to be on the level of say George R.R. Martin, and I feel that his shadow looms so large that people unfairly malign works simply for not being on his level. I say this to emphasis that I only expect a fun ride with most fantasy novels, but this work fails epically in that regard due to poor writing. Which is a shame, because I believe buried under this mess is a really promising story.
To be perfectly blunt, "The Way of Shadows" is a great concept with some very professional execution. The protagonist is interesting to follow around as he is swept up from the life of a common street rat and into that of a calculating assassin, or "wetboy" (didn't care for the title, sounds funny), whilst under the tutelage of Cenaria's best-of-the-best killer for hire, Durzo Blint.
In stark contrast to the almost YA writing style, this book manages to pick up some very haunting themes including child abuse and prostitution. This makes the characters' ordeal that much more chilling, when they begin to find that the unforgiving life of the city is more of an enemy than anything else they've experienced. You can feel this presence of turmoil pick away at them slowly through the first pages, and then slip away as everyone makes their "escape" from the street life.
As for the assassin's journey, it's more than exceptional. The real drama of the story isn't in the actual killing at all, but in dealing with the very morality of the situation. Watching Kylar hesitate and choke as he attempted to take his first life was heart-stopping in itself.
The only real gripe I had with the book, and it is, unfortunately, a rather large one, is the story structure itself. As the book progresses, it seems that every named character gets their own perspective. I found myself getting absolutely absorbed into Kylar's story, and then, all of a sudden, I'm reading about someone else. This happens soooo many times, and while I understand the author's reasons, as he wanted all the cards to be out on the table, eventually these constant cutaways to (in some instances) throw-away characters becomes very annoying, and actually persuaded me to put the book down for the night a couple times.
These cutaways not only put a damper on the flow, but made the whole story much more complicated. As if to solve this at times, the characters also drift into page-length monologues to explain...everything. If some of these cutaways and monologues had been removed, there would be a much tighter novel in its place. Instead, they sit there and make the 600 or so pages much more intimidating as time goes by.
Now, that may seem like a complete turn-off, but it shouldn't be. This novel is greater than the sum of its parts. Kylar's journey (while interrupted at times) crosses paths with some great and interesting characters who are simply a joy to read about. I'm glad that I only have to wait a month for the next book, and I hope that Mr. Weeks can prove that the land of Midcyru can stand on its own two feet after a promising start.