The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks

This week, while trying not to breath or move or cough, I listened to A Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks. It’s Book 1 in The Night Angel Trilogy.

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When I first snagged this book from Audible, I thought it was a YA fantasy. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t. Instead, it is a dark and dirty story of life in the slums as characters do what they must to survive. There is a lot of violence, profanity and crudeness. There is some Game of Thrones type political intrigue as well as doing evil things for honor and duty. It’s rather a depressing world, but there is a string of optimism and determination that keeps it from being nihilistic.

The Story

Azoth was raised in the hard life of a guild rat in the slums. When he gets the chance, he escapes that life to become the apprentice of the city’s most accomplished assassin. He gets a new name, Kylar, and a new life, but he must learn how to navigate the dangers of politics and magic.

My Favorite Parts

The opening scene where Azoth is crawling around under the floor of a bar scrounging for coins. This scene is why I thought it was a YA at first. The character is a teen in the story and has a sense of duty to some of the younger kids in the guild.

Later, there is a scene where Momma K is trying to convince Kylar (aka Azoth) to give up his crush on Elene by offering him a prostitute who who looks like Elene. Kylar turns her down. I think this, more than any other scene showed Kylar’s character. He was sure of himself and his attraction to Elene was more than just lust.

It’s so cute when Kylar and Elene finally discover the other is interested.

The scene when the witches took the dragons off the cliffs for the first time. It was like you could feel the adrenaline rush. I so want a dragon now.

The Great

The story kept my interest. It has good pacing and is well written.

There are so many layers and secrets that you have to pay attention to understand how each new layer or secret adds to the story.

Kylar (Azoth) doesn’t turn cold-hearted like everyone else. There’s a tiny bit of hope.

Even without a lot of description, the scenes with the witches and the dragons are vivid.

The Not So Great

The life of the characters is so depressing. It seems that everyone has allies, but no real friends. It’s a constant stream of lies and power struggles. If there wasn’t that bit of optimism that Kyler has, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it.

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