Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Night Angel Trilogy

To start off with reviews, etc, I thought I would post a few words about a series I read last year. Brent Weeks is the author of The Night Angel Trilogy (Way of Shadows, Shadow's Edge, and Beyond the Shadows). It's an ambitious debut, with all three books coming in at over 600 pages a piece. They were recommended to us by a friend of mine, who called them "solid sword & sorcery." 

All three definitely fit into the sword & sorcery niche of the fantasy genre. They tell the story of Kylar, who starts book one named Azoth, a street kid who just wants a way out of the slums. He sees his opportunity in the form of the city's best wetboy, Durzo Blint. Wetboys are those who kill for money, and are able to use Talent (basically, personal magic) in order to assist them in being very silent and efficient. He manages to become an apprentice, but he never stops thinking about his two friends, Jarl and Elene, who were left behind. Durzo builds an identity for Kylar, who then infiltrates into high society. The twists & turns abound in this one, with some great characters, such as Momma K, the city's Mistress of Pleasures who also helps run the city's Underworld. The biggest issue I had with Way of Shadows was the pining. My husband coined the term "sword emo" for this one. It seems that everyone pines for someone and at times, it's very distracting. The only thing that saves it, is the writing. In this well-crafted story, the shit hits the fan towards the end of book one, leading us right into Shadow's Edge. 

In book two, Kylar has reunited with Elene and they've taken in a child named Uly. Due to the events at the end of book one, they've left their home in the country of Cenaria and have moved. Kylar has decided to give up killing in order to be with Elene, who doesn't approve of that lifestyle. He has troubles however, that culminate when he gets an unexpected visit from an old friend...who is killed in the kitchen while talking with him. Kylar then takes up his old grays (the uniform of the wetboy) and sets off after the killer. The killer meanwhile, kidnaps the child and also heads off in the same direction, Cenaria. Shadow's Edge introduces a few more characters and plot twists, and really is my favorite of the series. 

The issue with reviewing a trilogy comes in when trying to sum up this one without giving too much away. Suffice to say, enough happens to require a third book, Beyond the Shadows. Book three gave the impression that Weeks turned in a fine, huge manuscript that was perfect. An editor then said, "this is too long" so he trimmed it down and some of the book comes off as disjointed. There are also some elements that lend the reader to say 'seriously?' It seemed as though there were too many plot threads to keep going smoothly and he really could have (and should have) stretched this to four books.

On the whole, it was a great debut. The storytelling style made me think he was trying to channel George R.R. Martin at times, but couldn't quite get the hang of it.  Even though I didn't care for book three, I would gladly give his future writings a try.

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