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nataliya

nataliya

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King, On Writing.

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"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."— J.K. Rowling

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy #1)

The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy #1) - A plucky street urchin Azoth wants to be a wetboy (*). Which is basically an assassin on steroids. Minus the unfortunate side effects of acne, neck hump, obesity, testicular atrophy, and man-boobs.* (These are just some of the images that come up in the internet search for "wetboy".) Also, call me immature, but when you call your magical artifact ka'kari, despite the mandatory fantasy apostrophe, the "kaka" part inevitably elicits immature giggles from me. Dear writers, please be careful in your word choices. Anyway, as I said above, our plucky street urchin (hello, fantasy trope!) Azoth strives to become a super-assassin under the tutelage of Durzo Blint, a cruel badass wetboy (but deep, deep, deeeeeeep down inside he is, of course, a caring mentor in his own gruffy way - hello, another trope!). He gets his wish after a few counts of child rape and child mutilation - but relax, it does not happen to Azoth; really bad things are only allowed to happen to the sidekicks. Anyway, he gets the training and adopts the identity of Kylar Stern, which sounds marginally better than Azoth. "The truth was, Azoth hated Azoth. Azoth was a coward, passive, weak, afraid, disloyal. Azoth had hesitated [...] He was Kylar now, and Kylar would be everything Azoth hadn’t dared to be."He meets a noble and honorable Logan along the way (to be prominently featured in the sequels). He also has a mandatory love interest - a saintly mind-numbingly boring Elene, whose soul is pure and childhood disfigurement does not seem to interfere with her beauty, like, at all. She basically is a virginal Madonna of this story. NO, NOT THAT MADONNA.................THIS ONE!One of my main gripes with this story is the overreliance on fantasy tropes/cliches. In this case, in addition to the ones above, we get a mandatory virgin-whore dichotomy (Elene being the virgin). And another trope - pretty much all the whores turn out to have a heart of gold. Of course. *********No, really, women come in more than two varieties. Believe me.The character development of the entire story is rather non-existent, more of a videogame variety. The characters are cardboard caricatures - very perfunctory, very stereotypical and cliched, with very little stepping out of of designed fantasy tropes. Durzo Blint failed to arouse much sympathy or admiration despite learning about his tragic/tortured backstory. Logan is a prototypical hero/good guy. Elene is a cute love interest devoid of personality. Only Jarl and Momma K seemed to be interesting at all, but they don't get nearly enough on-page time. As for Azoth/Kylar himself, he is a decent action hero, but I could not care less for him as a person; he just lacks depth.Nevertheless, despite characterization being his weak point, Weeks is a good storyteller. His story is very plot-driven and flows reasonably well with the exception of a few parts where the pacing was a bit uneven. The plot drags just a bit in the first part, but picks up quite nicely in the second half of the book. Action scenes are vivid and written very well, and the loose ends get nicely wrapped up. The book, despite its weaknesses, managed to eventually capture my attention, making it hard to put down until I got to the end. Reading it is, in my limited experience, just like playing a videogame - a fun ride without too much depth.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Overall, an average 3-star 2-star¹ story with forgettable characters, overreliance on fantasy cliches, and the feel of a videogame put to page, but rather fun and with nice action scenes. Nothing special, but it got me interested enough to pick up the sequel. Brent Weeks does show promise as a writer, especially if he eventually steps outside the familiar and comfortable fantasy genre patterns.¹ After realizing that I have given 3 stars to quite a few books that I liked way more than this one, I realized that the fair thing to do would be to knock this one down a star. For the life of me, I have no idea why I was so generous with rating it in the first place.