The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks
My rating: 4/5
I finished this book earlier this week – it’s one of the ones I listened to on Audible, which is the only reason I got through it (not because of the writing, but because of the amount of time that I had to read).
I really enjoyed this one for the most part. It has a very nice plot that was clearly developed. There were some very predictable pieces, others less so. There was actually a very big reveal at the end that I didn’t call, and I wonder if I would have had I read the book instead of listened.
As Azoth learns to become a wet boy, a very special form of assassin, he must commit to a life he knows very little about. Convinced that learning to kill people will make him strong and never have to worry about being afraid of someone again, Azoth manages to apprentice himself to Durzo Blint, a legend in the field. He takes on a new persona as a relatively poor noble named Kylar Stern. As he continues his training, he grows more and more into the role as Kylar Stern and leaves his life as Azoth behind. He makes friends with lords in Cenaria, and as the novel progresses finds himself more and more wrapped up in political intrigue and doomed love affairs. Throw in a bit of magic, called the “Talent,” and you have a wonderfully crafted fantasy story.
The characters all feel very real, and as their stories rise and fall, I felt my emotions rise and fall right along with them. They certainly had a development period, and if I hadn’t pushed through the first decent chunk of the book, I might no have cared much for them, to be honest. But as these characters grew throughout the book, I became more and more attached to them. Fair warning, there are some very dark portions of the book, but have some hope – it doesn’t leave you feeling completely depressed. There are definite high points, and Brent Weeks excels at nicely timed comedic relief.
There is also a wealth of description, and I could see the world very vividly. Brent is not afraid of some of the more gruesome aspects of a City such as Cenaria City. Indeed, the book starts in the Warrens, a part of the city where young children are luck to survive childhood, and do so only by stealing and paying dues to their guilds. There is no shying away from the prostitution and abuse either. I make it sound awful, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad. I caution against reading this book if you can’t cope with some of the bad.
All in all, this was a really great book. It didn’t make my favorites list simply because there were several points in time I had to struggle to keep going. There are definitely some slow portions, but every detail is worth reading, and it all proves its usefulness in the end. I look forward to reading book 2 when I get the chance (unfortunately, the list before then is rather long).