Novel: The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks
Published: October 1st 2008 by Orbit
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: 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.
I bought this book in September of last year, and have been wanting to read it ever since. Brent Weeks is quite the well-known author in the fantasy genre, and the Night Angel trilogy seems like a great read. It has the elements I usually love: guilds, assassins, royalty, corruption, and so on. But for some reason, I was intimidated by it. I’m so glad I decided to pick it up by the end of December. It was a great way to finish off my 2015 reading year.
So, this book starts when Azoth is a guild rat. He has two friends in this guild, and lives in fear of Rat, one of the creepy and violent guild members. Let’s be real, Rat is probably a psychopath. Azoth has always wanted to become a wetboy. So a wetboy is an assassin with Talent. Yes, Talent with a capital letter. Durzo Blint is the best wetboy, and Azoth wants to become his apprentice. That’s where the story starts.
I have to say that this novel spans over quite some time. At times, it was a bit hard to keep up with the amount of time that had passed. However, I like the fact that it shows years of Azoth’s life. As he apprentices under Blint, he learns. But unlike some books, in which the apprentice just happens to be a child prodigy in every aspect, Azoth has a normal/bit faster than normal learning curve. It makes the story far more believable and realistic. He’s taught a day at a time, and slowly receives more challenging tasks. This is actually how we teach anyone anything. Yet somehow, training is often skipped in novels. I’m glad this didn’t.
I have a hard time describing the pace of this book. At first, it felt quite slow-paced. It even takes a while for Azoth to become Durzo’s apprentice, even though you know that will happen from the description of the book. So it definitely starts out slowly. Then in the middle, it starts speeding up. Suddenly, things are happening all around and I couldn’t stop turning page after page. Because of this, it took me quite a few pages to get into the story and characters. After the turning point though, I was flipping pages like crazy. I needed to know what was going to happen.
This is where it gets difficult to explain, exactly because this book spans over so many years. Let’s start with Azoth, shall we?
So, Azoth. I have always loved assassin stories. I’m not exactly sure why, but it appeals to me. What stands out to me here, is the reason why Azoth wants to become an assassin. He no longer wants to have to be afraid. As a guild rat, Azoth is of the lowest rank, terrified by the elders. An assassin doesn’t have to fear anyone. That’s what he wants. To be honest, I think it’s a pretty good reason. He seems like a genuinely good person, you know, aside from being an assassin in training. He’s smart, and he learns quickly but still doubts himself often. Too often, in my opinion. But overall, I liked his character.
Next up, Durzo. His story is quite, well, different. I could never make up my mind concerning him. Do I like him? Do I hate him? I think it’s a bit of both. Under the circumstances, he does his best. Yet sometimes, he strikes me a cruel or mean. Yes, I know that he is a wetboy/assassin. But I mean, unnecessary cruelty. And at other times, he appears to be a righteous man. Especially compared to some of the other wetboys.. I still haven’t made up my mind.
The characters in this story are very intriguing. Not only do they have interesting backstories, but their “current” predicaments are quite fascinating too. I do have this one thing to say: so much of this story could have been solved if the characters only learned to communicate with each other. A lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided, if they only talked. That’s why I didn’t give this a 5-star rating. At the end, it bothered me quite a bit, that communication could have solved 60% of the problems they faced.
First of all, this is one of those times in which I am very appreciative of maps in fantasy novels. It just helps you understand the world so much better. I am intrigued by the fantasy world of Night Angel. Several kingdoms, rulers, noble men and women and religions are at play. I wish I knew more about each individually, as I sometimes had to stop and think about who the current POV-character was and where he/she came from. But I’m very intrigued, and I hope to learn more in the following books.
I very much enjoyed this start to the Night Angel trilogy. I’m intrigued by the characters, the world, and what the author has in store for me next. I have to admit that at the moment, I think I’ll be a little bit bored with the beginning of the second book. Why? I can’t tell you. Suffice it to say that the ending of the first book seems so, normal.
I do think that the book started out quite slow, and that the big jumps in time can make it hard to follow once in a while. As I mentioned, my biggest “issue” with this book is the lack of communication. Really, lack of communication and talking should not be a way to further a plot. But overall, I’m very impressed with my first Brent Weeks novel. I’m excited to see what the next one will bring.