Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, New Adult (don't know what that is? read about it here)
Edition: Softcover (Mass Market PB)
Page Count: 677
Pub. Date: October 1, 2008
Series: Book 1 of the Night Angel Trilogy
My Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Amazon.com: 4 stars
Goodreads: 4.13 (Average)
Recommended For: Fans of intense, dark fantasy/adventure novels with a slight magical twist, Readers who like a book with a punch
Azoth is a guild rat, an orphan, a worthless piece of skin living in the hell of the Warrens. Accompanied by his two friends, an older boy named Jarl and a tiny young girl who goes by the name Doll Girl, the three outcasts ban together and try to survive with little or nothing to their name. But being members of a guild called The Black Dragon, they are forced under the hand of a boy named Rat; the Fist of their guild, who's in charge of maintaining order and providing pain however he sees fit. Incurring constants slews of hatred and being a subject of humiliation, all Azoth wants is to not be afraid anymore. Until an opportunity presents itself and brings him across the most feared man in the city...Durzo Blint. A man who fears nothing.
The Way of Shadows is about a boy's arduous journey to discover within himself the makings of an assassin, or better yet, a wetboy. A life so dilute of morals that he must forever swear off love and embrace his new identity. Guided by his master Durzo Blint, Azoth learns to fight with every weapon known to man and to make poisons that can kill in an instant. But in order to continue on his dark path, Azoth must stand by his master's creed:
Life is empty. Life is meaningless. When we take a life, we aren't taking anything of value. Wetboys are killers. That's all we do. That's all we are. There are no poets in this bitter business.
It's a lesson ingrained in Azoth's brain since the moment he took to the shadows. His new path takes him to places he'd never thought he'd tread - full of deceit, dangerous politics, and the uncertainty of living to see the next day. But unlike his master, Azoth cannot quite shrug off the innocent person he used to be.
As the story progresses, so does Azoth's abilities. But something is wrong. For some reason or another, his Talent, which sets apart an assassin from a wetboy, cannot break free of its bonds. He is broken, which makes him worthless. He gets one last chance to prove himself but the chance is not an easy one.
Meanwhile, the land of Cenaria is in a bit of upheaval as a new king, unworthy of his duty, is settling in to take the throne. The Sa'kage, an underworld society feared by the people, are taking more and more under their power and making cowards of the those who would oppose them. But all the while, an unforeseen force is making its way through the lands with the evil intention of invading Cenaria and killing all those who stand in their way.
It is very hard to narrow down my thoughts on The Way of Shadows simply because there is too much to tell! I can't even begin to describe to you the the vast world author Brent Weeks takes us through. Though this is a work of fiction, there is a sad tale of truth to be told.
This book has it all: grit, intensity, action, adventure, magic, violence, promiscuity, romance...and not in that order. The Way of Shadows delves deeply into a dark world full of violence and despair. A world so devoid or morals that it's hard to decipher right from wrong. But there is also light at the end of the gloomy tunnel. Hope and redemption rise hand in hand along side all the darkness that tries to keep it in the shadows.
Another notable aspect of the novel is it very rarely lost stride, presenting the reader with non-stop action and a relatively fast pace. But more importantly, the characters were always solid and engaging. Each had their own strengths, weaknesses, and secrets to tell in their own time. It all unraveled perfectly with the suspenseful twists and turns this book provided.
What is keeping this novel from being a 5-star read in my opinion, is the fact that there is just so much detail and so many characters that it can be quite overwhelming and slightly difficult to grasp EVERYTHING that happens in the book. And at times it was a little confusing because loose ends were left open, only to come back to them later in the book. But honestly, in the grand scheme of things, it does little to take away from the incredible journey all tied up in 677 pages. This novel runs deep with evil, intrigue, and plot twists, but the more you read, the more everything starts to piece itself together again. Events happened that I never even thought of and it kept me on my toes throughout the book.
You know, I had no idea what to expect when I first picked it up. I bought it on a whim and was rewarded with a story filled to the brim with intensity and anticipation. Please take note that this is in no way a light read. You will be shuffled from hope, to curiosity, to despair like a rag doll. I wouldn't suggest this to any young readers due to the explicit violence (and some abuse) or those who are easily squeamish. If you're looking for a book with grit and, quite frankly, brass, than this is a book right down your alley.
I cannot wait to continue on with the Night Angel Trilogy!