Book Review: The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy #1) by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy #1) by Brent Weeks

Publisher: Orbit

Publication Date: October 1, 2008 (first published January 1, 2008)

Edition: Mass Market Paperback, 645 pages

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5


I couldn’t read this book at night when I had to get up the early the next day, because there was too much action going on, and I would always end up get too jacked up and wouldn’t be able fall asleep after.

Backcover:

 From New York Times Bestselling author Brent Weeks…
For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art-and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

The story may be about assassins, being all stealthy and quite, sneaking around the corner to kill their deader before he knows what hims it. But reading the story is a different experience.  It’s more like running through a battle field with mines blowing up all rounds you, bullets whipping past your ears from both directions, and hearing bomber planes coming in from the horizon. You’re heart is going to be doing some serious pumping.

Our story takes place in the land of Midcyru. We begin in a section of the country Cenaria called the Warrens. The Warrens are the slums of the city. Picture downtown New York with the tightly packed building and darker corners, but located in a dark, swampy, marshy area (like the Everglades), and with second hand, run-down, bamboo inspired architecture – pretty gritty, huh?

Here is where we meet our main protagonist, Azoth. He is a young and eager guild rat who aspires to escapes this slum of place he is living and become a wetboy (aka assassin). To begin his path, he seeks to become an apprentice to Durzo Blint, the legendary and greatest wetboy alive and to have ever lived. However, to become an assassin and Durzo’s apprentice he must sacrifice all that he is now; where he came from, all he cares for and who care for him – he must forget his past life completely. Making this decision will difficult for Azoth to do, the consequence of this choice will for ever haunt him forever, and the life of an assassin he thought he was perusing, isn’t what he expected, and he find himself in a situation of greater significance than just killing.

Reading other reviews of this book, I often heard it referred to as a fast-paced, video game novel. I can understand where the video game idea comes. Young boy becomes apprentice, learns the trade, go out on his quest, develops more, and counties to quest – typical video game style. And this novel is fast-paced, oh yeah, it will keep your attention. It has the epic fighting scenes, the sneaking in through buildings for the assassinations and hiding in the shadows to not get caught by the guards, engaging character development and dialog, and most surprising and impressive of all – the unravelling of the plot. The plot and development of this story is why I have so much difficulty calling this a video game style novel. It just doesn’t do it justice. Not that video game novel’s aren’t great works, but most of the time they are just ‘meh’. This is far from it.

I was really enjoying the novel, like I said before – faced paced, good story, pretty cool magic system, never a dull moment of any kind. Wether its was dialog or action, I never lost interest. The only thing was, while I reading it it just felt like something was missing, and I couldn’t figure out why people LOVED this trilogy and had over a 4 star rating on Goodreads. Then towards the end, everything happened. The magic system just exploded and started doing [awesome] things I was wasn’t prepared for, and the plot started taking twist after twist that I hadn’t even expected or thought off. Suddenly all the characters started taking on more meaning and depth to themselves.

What started out as, and what I expected to be, a fast-paced, actioned oriented, assassin novel, turned out to be so much more. As much as I loved the action, fighting and the magic Weeks came up with (and it is very good), when I closed the book, those weren’t why I picked up the second book the next morning, it was because of the story. This was an amazing story first, that is accented with the great fighting, action, and magic.

This was an excellent novel (and even more impressive now that I remember it was his debut).

4.5/5 Rating

-DJ

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