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

I bought a copy of The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks.

Description from Goodreads:
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.

Having hit my 300-books-read in 2017 goal with 2 days to spare, I decided to splurge with a long book. The Way of Shadows is 659 pages long and fit the bill. Considering I bought it in October of 2014, I was confused about why I hadn’t read it before now. They I discovered (or rediscovered, because this is undoubtably why I set it aside and forgot about it) that it is the first in a SPINOFF series.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up a ‘book one,’ only to realize it’s not actually a first book at all, and I’m starting to get a little sensitive about it. I stuck with it though, since I’d already started it when I made this rediscovery. For those in the same boat, it’s readable. Though you certainly feel you’re missing some history.

Overall, I felt this was overly long but other wise pretty good (with one major exception). I liked the characters, the world, the writing, the magic system and the story. I’m interested in going back and picking the series up at the beginning and reading the rest of it. All good things.

Here’s my one BIG exception. I understand that throughout history the age of majority has not always been what it is today and that people often married a lot earlier than we do now, which means having sex earlier. I even understand that in certain parts of the world this is still happening. I’m not a prude about sex and I get that this book is meant to be gritty. But after the 11-year-old boy gets repeatedly raped (one of many), another uses sex as bait, 2 8-year-old prostitutes offer debasing sex acts, the 15-year-old’s sexy body is described in detail as she attempts to consummate her marriage, and the mere existence of child brothels as a practice, as well as several other vaguer references, I just started to feel a little contaminated and dirty. It was just constantly there. Never told in glorified, titillating detail, but always present. And that was just sex, there was of course the constant reality of violence and starvation too. It was too much for me.

Similarly, no female characters exist outside of their sex. They’re either prostitutes, mistresses, exceptional virgins, or being used for political bargaining chips. Epic fantasy has a long history of this, but it’s still aways disappointing to find.

Outside of that one biggy, I consider this a win and look forward to reading more of Weeks work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *