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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A promising beginning
It was an entertaining read, almost a page turner.
However, I could not escape a feeling that although, all the right ingredients were present, such as mages, swords, bows, kings, etc., it didn't feel like a fantasy, more like an adventure story.
Too much of freely disposed magic. When you have so much of it, the magic looses its "magic" element. A very...
Published on 27 April 2010 by _astra_

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121 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-plotted debut, undermined by clunky prose and bland world
After releasing both books of Karen Miller's Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology within the space of a few months (and, it must be said, achieving considerable success with such a method), Orbit decided to do the same with Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy: all three books were released within a month of each other.

This is a particularly clever marketing ploy,...
Published on 7 Jun 2009 by James Long


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121 of 134 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-plotted debut, undermined by clunky prose and bland world, 7 Jun 2009
After releasing both books of Karen Miller's Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology within the space of a few months (and, it must be said, achieving considerable success with such a method), Orbit decided to do the same with Brent Weeks' The Night Angel Trilogy: all three books were released within a month of each other.

This is a particularly clever marketing ploy, as it means that fans don't have to wait long for each instalment, while the author's reputation and presence is built all the more quickly (or destroyed, depending on the books!).

Quite a bit of buzz has been steadily growing online around The Way of Shadows, so it moved rapidly up my reading list. I must confess I had my doubts about this debut, one being that it might veer too far towards bubblegum fantasy territory. Having finished the novel, I've found that some of my concerns were justified while others were not.

In short, The Way of Shadows is something of a mixed bag.

The weakest aspect for me was the worldbuilding, or to be blunt, total lack of it. What we have is a standard medieval-esque world of kings, princes, assassins and soldiers. There's even a magic sword and a prophecy. In short, there is absolutely no innovation whatsoever. For some readers this is not a problem; the issue of worldbuilding vs characterisation is an old one, and many fans of the genre are quite happy as long as the story and characters are good. That's fair enough, but personally I like fantasies where the author attempts to push the boundaries a bit, do something a little different. Failing that, the world needs to at least come through well in the writing; I need to be able to become absorbed in it. Weeks' world fails on both accounts for me - it's neither particularly interesting and it just never reeled me in. There were hints of a more Asian influence (rice paddies, tantos, etc) but this was never built upon. Subsequently, the world became a backdrop and nothing more, rather than a vibrant, living place.

The writing at first seemed little better. Again, this may just be my personal taste, but I found the prose a bit simplistic. There was some really clunky exposition and I felt certain events badly lacked context. For example - without giving anything away - there's a scene early on where a certain individual overhears two men discussing the dynastic succession. Maybe it was just me, but I struggled to really grasp the importance of the situation or what was at stake - there were too many names flying around for me to really appreciate exactly what was happening. On top of that, certain words - Momma, helluva - are too modern and are subsequently jarring.

Having said that, the writing improves considerably over the course of the book and the final third displays some much better descriptive prose. There was one scene in particular that I thought Weeks handled extremely well and was clearly the stand-out moment in the book for me, though obviously I can't reveal what it is. While I never fully took to Weeks' style, it is at least accessible and I saw enough to believe that the next books in the trilogy will contain superior writing to this one.

The characterisation was a little bit hit and miss for me. Some characters - Durzo Blint, Azoth/Kylar, Momma K (still don't like that name) - were handled and developed well, but others (Solon/Feir/Dorian/Duke Gyre) were less so. Azoth/Kylar does make for a good, engaging protagonist, and Blint is a very strong support act, so ultimately Weeks does manage to create an entertaining cast that hold the reader's attention.

The plot is what really saves The Way of Shadows from total mediocrity. To his credit, Weeks has constructed a plot that generally moves at a good pace and has a high number of twists, some of which most readers will never see coming. It's been a while since I've read a novel with this many surprises, so credit to Weeks for that. On the other hand though, I do think the best authors are able to drop hints prior to the twist/secret being revealed. For example, George R. R. Martin is very good at doing this, so you're able to flick back over the novel and think "Yeah, all the signs were there - I just didn't see them." The twists in Weeks' novel aren't as subtle, and for me one or two of the twists seemed a bit hollow. Still, when all is said and done Weeks has created an absorbing plot.

I had one or two other minor complaints: I would have liked to have seen much more of Azoth's/Kylar's training, as the plot jumps ahead by two years more than once, which threw me a bit. I did at times feel that Azoth/Kylar was too skilled - to the point where it lessened the tension. Still, relatively minor complaints.

In all, despite the world being rather standard (and not coming through as well as I'd have liked), the writing being clunky at times and the characterisation blowing hot and cold, there was something that appealed to me about The Way of Shadows. I can't quite put my finger on it, though the plot certainly helped me to enjoy the novel. I've read much better fantasy novels, but then again I've read far worse. For a debut, it's not bad at all and I think it has all the right ingredients to appeal to a lot of readers.

I've heard Weeks compared to Scott Lynch, though I think that has more to do with the similar nature of their debuts - Lynch, for me, is a better writer in all departments. That said, I'll probably check out the next book in The Night Angel Trilogy, as I think Weeks does have potential.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A promising beginning, 27 April 2010
It was an entertaining read, almost a page turner.
However, I could not escape a feeling that although, all the right ingredients were present, such as mages, swords, bows, kings, etc., it didn't feel like a fantasy, more like an adventure story.
Too much of freely disposed magic. When you have so much of it, the magic looses its "magic" element. A very confusing history of the world. If not confusing then very little of it, so it is difficult to understand some things that happen because we don't understand the background of characters or history of places.
When Joe Abercrombie's the First Law trilogy was published, people were raving about how gritty and bloody it was. I agree, but The Way of Shadows is a lot worse or should I say "better"? A significant amount of flying intestines and spilled blood. There are a few heart wrenching moments intermeshed with love.
Not bad, all in all. A good read but as a fantasy it lacks some depth. Hopefully, it will improve in the next two books. I am willing to give the trilogy a chance.

On to the book two of the Night Angel trilogy, Shadow's Edge
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a grower., 14 April 2009
By 
griff1974 (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review may be poorly timed as I have already read the second book, which will undoubtedly colour the opinion of the first. However, that does allow me to say a big positive about the first book is that it made me launch straight into the second one. I feel - and hope, in anticipation of the third book - that the author has started small and is gradually ramping-up the scale of the story.

Characterisation is the key to good story-telling and that is where this book succeeds and keeps the reader engaged. By keeping the backdrop tightly contained the author has allowed the characters to come to the fore, and as a result they and their battles are the key drivers to the story. The Kylar/Durzo relationship has enough grit and angst, and 'to be revealed later' secrets, to maintain the characters' momentum within the broader storyline of invasion by an evil foreign nation.

By necessity a large number of characters are introduced and experimented with before the superfluous ones are done away with. The small gripe I have with a large number of characters is that many of them are too shallow to be likeable, with little by way of shades-of-grey. You could argue that assassins in themselves are far from a black and white distinction, but from the outset there is no doubt who the heroes and villains are. With some falling by the wayside there is the opportunity for others to be portrayed in greater depth, and the author does so to a certain extent.

The writing style is straightforward and accessible, which doesn't give the immersive read that many fantasy lovers look for. But keeping it simple does give the author the scope to freely explore the issues being addressed by the story. If you read fantasy for mythical creatures and exotic races then this may not be the book for you, but there are enough interesting quirks on the classic fantasy elements to make the land of Cenaria and its surrounds a place worth exploring.

At heart this book is about the price we pay for the decisions we make and the actions we take; and I feel it does it very well. While not quite to the standard of Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy The Farseer 1.Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy) it's aiming for a similar part of the genre, and has the potential to expand as the story continues.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut, 21 April 2009
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The author's debut trilogy starts with the story of a corrupt city with a mad ruler and a criminal organisation that really run the city. This organisation is kept in place by assassins of exceptional ability.
Into this mix we have a young man who is reluctantly accepted as an apprentice by the top assassin, not realising the sacrifice this will need as he puts his entire previous life behind him.
Year later the kingdom is in danger of collapse and it looks like master will be set against apprentice....
This is well written, thoughtful and moves at real pace. There are twists and turns as we race to the conclusion of a very satisfying novel. Excellent stuff.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting lost is the best way to explore, 3 Feb 2011
By 
A. Tickle "Alex C-T" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I bought this book on a whim. I hadn't read anything new in awhile and was looking for a new series to lose myself in.
I'll be honest it was the cover and then the blurb which attracted me. I was expecting a rather lacklustre piece I could put down at any point. Something not to hard on the mind, just something to pay attention to when I had nothing else to do.

To my pleasure this turned out to be something I willingly sacrificed doing work among other things. I'm a big fantasy fan. This stems from my love of the Final Fantasy series. This book almost effortlessley creates and entire world. We don't even get to see or hear about all of it in the first novel. I'm a big fan of maps and am always flicking back so I can give myself a mental picture of the area's being described.
In my opinion the truly amazing part was the creation of whole new cultures and customs. The "wetboy" as being different to an Assassin. I was slightly dissapointd by the occasional jump of years but can easily understand why it was done.
With this is mind the book did have some flaws. At times the writing was similar to teenage novelists but I may be ignorant of the intended audience.

My favourite part of this book is without a doubt the characters. All major characters receive intense attention and depth. Even minor characters receive similar scrutiny. This goes from similar "wetboys" to characters such as the Sethi Ships Capatain.
Character construction or in some cases revalation goes on throughout the book offering up many interesting twists and turns to what you perceive as being the truth. Brent Weeks has no qualms about revealing the cruelty of human nature even if some of his characters to strive to be noble and just. Even the heroine gets terribly scarred. I love this because the characters are what I construe as being true to life. The best part is that with the exception of few these "evil" actions usually get justified or excused by the narrative. You can almost understand the logic and reasoning behind said actions.

As a whole I dislike obvious use of magic. However the use of magic is so entwined and ingrained that sometimes it becomes a nuiscance that some people are unable to use magic in what is a book packed with it. Those characters unable to use it have a tendency to be the more heroic but thats a limited concept. The un-magical characters can be just as cruel as everyone else. I applaud that as sometimes there is an unneccessary use of awe to emphasis the use of magic. This acceptance is another reasons I think the books is excellent.

I would certainly recommend this to any fantasy fan. I would also remind people that if they're expecting a story of princes and castles that this book is going to shake the foundations of those expectations. Its a fantastic read I couldn't put it down and would always make time to fit in a few hours reading during the day. If your looking for somewhere to literally lose yourself then Midcyru is certainly the place.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars promising start, 5 Aug 2010
Unpredictable. Action-packed. Makes a reader look forward to what is going to happen next. Story-telling quality is good. But the ending is a cliffhanger. The ending is the start of the next book, so you have to read the next book. The ending is the only reason this book did not garner a five-star rating.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read, often left confussed. Review of all 3books, 11 Nov 2009
I bought this trilogy on the basis of it having 4.5 on the reviews. As someone who reads a lot of fantasy i was expecting a lot more from this book and the other two. Credit to the author in that it is a very creative trilogy and the ideas behind it were good, although not great.
These books were very difficult to read. Unless your totally focused on the book with no distractions of any sort, I think you may struggle reading these books (although even then you may get confussed at times). The story is all over the place and i feel that he discribed certain things in far too much detail, and in areas of the book where it is really not necessay. One example of this, I have just read in the third book, where he suddenly introduces a new character and a city all in the same paragraph. At this point I just skipped through the unnecessary droll about the architecture and workings of some towers, and felt no worse off for missing it out. Another one where he discribed a characters personality in reference to music (which was completely out of key to the rest of the book and not at all needed in my opinion).
Another thing i struggled with was the shear volume of characters in this book. All had names and personalities that needed to be learned and I often felt lost and confussed as to who I was reading about. Some names were so similar that I didnt realise I was reading about someone else until much further on and was left not knowing what on earth was going on.
Personally I feel that all 3 of these books need to be reread, ulthough I dont feel as though I have the patience or energy to go through it all again.
Credit given though about the main characters. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them all the way through the book and the suspence was killing me when waiting as i read about other people. MAybe more focus on these and less on other characters would have made these books more enjoyable.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 8Cipher8, 20 Feb 2010
By 
8Cipher8 (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
As a big time Fantasy & Sci-Fi fan, the Night Angel Trilogy was a fresh of breath air, new author, unique world, cultures & interesting magic system - overall refreshing setting & characters. What I also admire about Weeks' work, is he is not afraid of having tainted / flawed characters. Cannot wait for the next trilogy, whipped through these in the space of two weeks.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Jun 2010
By 
Mr. D. Carter (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As a fan of David Gemmell, Raymond E. Feist and George R. R. Martin, I am unsure what piqued my interest in a new author. This is a very dark, tense fantasy novel. It has grand scale, likeable (and despicable) characters - the first book in a while to draw real emotion from the reader. I cannot rate this highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT book G-R-E-A-T Book!, 28 Sep 2011
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I loved it. I am 37 but was thrilled by all the new developments and surprises every few pages. At last something original. And it is good both for men and women.
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