The Way of Shadows

“The mathematical formulae were no help; they were full of infinities and zeroes with no way of knowing on which side of the equation they landed.”

This is the first volume of The Night Angel Trilogy, written by Brent Weeks. It falls within the “assassin” branch of heroic fantasy, where the lower levels of a medieval society are controlled by hierarchical guilds that manage contraband, prostitution, theft and assassinations and that are more or less tolerated by the local power. This is found in Eddings’ novels, especially the Belgariad, but also Hobbs’ Farseer series, Jones’ The Book of Worlds, Martin’s Song of Ice and  Fire, Canavan’s Magician Guild and many others… So it is not an altogether surprising universe, relating the grueling training of a young apprentice to the best assassin in town, but the story is well-conceived and does not suffer from too many useless side subplots. As suggested by the cover, there are obvious links with the ninja mythology, but the central plot focusses on a magical artifact that will turn the predestined apprentice into the most powerful (what else?!) warrior, with the opportunity to save the realm whose new king is (conveniently) his best friend. This summary sounds rather negative, but the story is saved by its pace and by the number of unexpected events where central characters are brutalised or even killed at very short notice. The tone is quite dark with little humour and rather gory details—so I would definitely not suggesr it for the young adult section!—but, while there are a few poor twists in the plot, especially at the end, and while the  romance is hopelessely straightforward and sentimental, The Way of Shadows does make for a compelling and unusual read. (Except for the poor quotation presented at the top!)

2 Responses to “The Way of Shadows”

  1. […] posted earlier, I liked the first volume The Way of Shadows which truly made for a compelling and unusual […]

  2. Despite my warning about the “not-a-young-adult-section”, the book ended up attracting my son due to its Assassin’s Creed-like cover. He read the whole book in less than a week and has now started the second volume, which I found so much on the down side that I switched to the second volume by Joe Abercrombie….

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