Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks

The Way of the Shadows by Brent Weeks is an exceptional debut novel. Normally, I would expect a debut to be slightly lacking in a few areas and while excelling in others. Then, as an author hones his/her talent, the books become tighter and more rounded. Some new writers nail characterization but need to work on pace or their worldbuilding is awesome but the plot has a few holes. After reading the Way of Shadows however, I am impressed. If Brent Weeks gets any better he will become a major voice in the fantasy genre.

The Characters. Azoth is a street kid just trying to survive. Sounds cliche at first but Azoth, even though he does not yet realize it, is more then he first appears. Durzo Blint is the best of the best when it comes to assassination. Dark, mysterious, deadly, Blint's motto is that life is empty, life is meaningless and to take a life is not taking anything of value. Logan Gyre, aristocrat, consummate fighter, loyal friend, he will get caught up in deadly politics and stands to lose everything he loves. King Aleine IX, cruel, inept, not quite sane, he is the worse possible type of king, a complete raving lunatic.

The Story. Azoth wants nothing more then to never be afraid again. The best way to do this, as he sees it, is to apprentice himself to the most fearless man he knows, Durzo Blint. Leaving behind his life in the Warrens, with its cruel gang lords and rampant child abuse, Azoth becomes Kyler Stern, assassin's apprentice and sometimes noble but poor Baronet. This book follows Azoth's transformation from street urchin into a "wetboy" or trained assassin. It is a coming of age story, often skipping years at a time as Kyler develops his skills and hopes for a way to awaken his "Talent", without which he can never fully become a wetboy.

My Impressions. This is not a book for the faint of heart. Tia's first impression when she showcased this is correct, it is very dark. Child rape, child abuse, copious amounts of profanity, death and mayhem fill these pages. Brent Weeks does not hold back when it comes to making this a very dark, but fascinating world. He is also not afraid to kill off important characters, which is great, nothing in this story is sacred so you are always kept guessing. The pace is fast, the secondary characters, of which there are many, are as well written as the mains, the plot twists are delightful, the magic system is a bit vague, but hopefully we will learn more about it later. An impressive first effort and one that has left me looking forward to more.

Link Fest!
The Way of Shadows (Amazon: US - Canada - UK)
Brent Weeks: (Website - Interview)
Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
Orbit (October 1, 2008)
Unbound's Interview with Brent Weeks


Peta said...

I ordered this series on impulse last night so I'm thrilled you describe the first book as an "exceptional debut novel" as that bodes well. Can't wait for them to arrive now!

Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks for the review, Mulluane!

ediFanoB said...

Good review, Mulluane!

I bought the book after reading first chapter online.

To be honest this is one of my favourite 2009 fantasy book.

By the way "THE WAY OF SHADOWS" is nominated for THE DAVID GEMMELL LEGEND AWARD. Don't forget to vote:

Lisa said...

cool looking cover.

Jeff C said...

Glad to see another new fan of this series :)

Tia Nevitt said...

I want to read it now.

Anonymous said...

I've had my eye on this book for a while now and plan to get it the next time I go to the bookstore. It looks really interesting.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I loved the first two books in this series. The last one wasn't quite as good, but The Way of Shadows and Shadow's Edge were absolutely some of the best fantasy I've ever read. (I just read the entire trilogy this weekend.)

If only the cover model for Kylar didn't remind me of Frodo. :-)

Todd Newton said...

Sounds awesome. I did buy this in November but it has been sitting on my shelf since then. I will probably pick it up after I finish (if I do finish) The Stormcaller. It's not looking hopeful.

Tia Nevitt said...

I thought The Stormcaller looked pretty good, so I'm interested in reading your review. I hated the cover, though.

Todd Newton said...

That's weird, James at Speculative Horizons hated the cover, too, but I thought it wasn't bad.

Having read the first chapter twice now, I have to say things aren't looking too good for the plot. The writing style isn't doing much for me, either. I'll stick it out, though, just to see if it's worse than The Bastard King and The Wizard Lord.

GamerGuy said...

You can actually see him get better as a wrtiter in the second book. He 'discovers' banter, humor, more interesting motivations, etc, and his character creation has definately improved.

My only big complaint is his choice of names; almost every single person, place, or thing has just a terrible name for some reason.

Unknown said...

I think this book is the best ever! I'm still reading the first one and I already have the other 2 waiting for when I finsish this one I'm always guessing on what happans next.

I think the kyler reminds of the guy of the game assassins creed ( they should so make this a move)So far this has been a good year me finding these books.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering around the bookstore and saw the whole series on the SFF shelf. My first impression was that "woah, nice cover" so i bought the books just for fun *since i had a $50 book voucher* But anyway, i came home, read the book, and got hooked immediately >D i seriously didn't expect it to be good, but The way of shadows was really "mesmerizing". I lent it to a friend and she absolutely loved it *in face she stay up the whole night and finished it in one day* I cant wait for Brent weeks next books >D