Monday, August 1, 2016

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

Title: The Way of Shadows”
Author: Brent Weeks
Pages: 645
Price: 8.83£ (paperback)
Where to get it:, BookDepository
Plot: 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.

“To be a perfect killer, he has to wear the perfect skin for each kill”
Did I love this book? Oh-hell-yeah! 

I don’t know how I managed to not know this series, at least until now. Have I been living under a rock during these past years? Apparently so. 

Anyway, what made pick “The Way of Shadows” in the first place was the cover followed by the plot. I love Assassin’s, I’d take any book on Assassins any time. Too bad I always find difficult to find really good ones at that. 

At first I feared that this book was going to be a bit like Throne of Glass, lots of talk about Assassins (with lots of stuff taken from Assassin’s Creed *coughs*) but with almost no killings/assassinations (what a pity!).  Fortunately, I can say that this wasn’t the case.

“You know, Blint, you’d be a better wetboy if you didn’t know you were the best. You are—but you still take your orders from me.”

"The Way of Shadows" is rich of real badass Assassin’s (here called wetboys or stone killers—I guess the author played with word whetstone?) they’re so good that “comparing a wetboy to an assassin is like comparing a tiger to a kitten” (I really couldn’t explain it any better). There is stabbing, disembowelling, lots of blood, poisonings and lots of action. This is not all! The book is also full of intrigues and plot twists (some of them really left me stunned). 

Not only this book has Assassins (done right) but also elements of epic fantasy (some very peculiar), plus political plotting, treachery and intrigues. The whole ka’kari thing was interesting (and definitely cool), same thing for the flashbacks to the distant past and the story of the six guardians of the light and a guardian that stands watch in the night (The Night Angel).
The book is told in 3rd person, which I usually prefer due to the fact that you get to be in more than one character’s head and get to see an infinitely bigger picture. Truth to be told, with a book so full of intrigue and various threads and twists, a reader wouldn’t have understood half of it had it been told only in Kylar’s POV. The reader follow Kylar mostly, but Durzo too has a good page-time (His character was my favorite, bad, gritty, and smug but still with a grain of goodness under it all), followed by the prophet Dorian, Momma K and Roth. In fact, the author managed to intertwine about five POVs without getting the reader confused, which I see as a feat in itself. 
“The hall lantern behind Durzo swaddled darkness’s favorite child in shadow, casting his form over Kylar and making his face invisible. Silhouetted, black blood dripped from the tip of Retribution”.

I found the characters well defined but what I liked the most about them is that, the majority of them walk a fine line between good and bad. There aren’t either black or white but definitely on the grey side. Thing that made them feel more, realistic and  human. 

Another thing I really appreciated was how we start with eleven years old Kylar (named Azoth at the time) then gradually find him fourteen and on his first solo-kill, then sixteen, eighteen and - at last- twenty. I loved how it takes him years and lots of training (and some messy kills) before becoming a perfect wetboy and not days like it happens in other books.  

In weaving his twists and turns Brent Weeks does not spare anyone and he is not afraid to kill or maim his characters (which is fair, given the situation...). He doesn’t spare anyone. For example, you have two people loving each other in secrets, ending up betraying each other to protect a common friend---the result? One of them dies and the surviving one later discover – too late – that her love was reciprocated after all (Argh! I felt really sorry for them).

“Assassination is an art, milord, and I’m the city’s most accomplished artist”

I would have given the book five stars if not for some action scenes that I found great but a bit blurry/confusing a times. Luckily, my brain has a good array of action images and assassination’s scenes curtesy of Assassin’s Creed---so, it was fine...really.   

I'm now looking forward to read "Shadow's Edge" the second book in the series.


4.5 blossoms

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