Author: Brent Weeks
Publisher: Orbit Books (Imprint of Hachette Book Group)
My Rating: 3/5 stars
I have been wanting to read The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks for months now, so when my Shelfari Fantasy/Science Fiction Book of the Month group recently chose to read The Way of Shadows (Book 1 of The Night Angel Trilogy), I was excited.
Azoth is a young boy who is for all intents and purposes, is a street rat. He has to fight for what little food he gets, is bullied by a stronger boy, and is a champion for a few that are even weaker than he is. He runs around with a group of children that are living under the same conditions, and he is desperate to get out of this situation. He dreams of becoming a wetboy (an assassin of sorts) after he encounters the most infamous wetboy, Durzo Blint. He begs Durzo to take him on as an apprentice and after a series of events, Durzo agrees.
Azoth's training includes weapons, poisons, and learning how to blend in with upper class society. He becomes friends with Logan, a prince who may one day become king. As with any story about kings, princes, and assassins, a power struggles ensues between kingdoms and a powerful antagonist is revealed.
I wanted to love this book, but I ended up just liking it. I thought Brent Weeks built the wetboy/apprentice relationship between Durzo and Azoth quite well. I enjoyed reading every moment of Azoth's schooling. I thought the character conflict about what it means to be an assassin was executed very well. About two-thirds of the way through the book, I became less impressed. Weeks continued to introduce characters and bring back characters from earlier in the book that I couldn't remember much about. It also seemed like he decided that because he was writing a fantasy book, he needed to throw a lot of magic in and all at once. There were inklings of magic early on in the book, but toward the end it just felt like he poured a whole gravy boat of magic into the story. It felt forced and really diminished what he had done early on in the book.
Overall, I did enjoy the story and I thought Weeks' first effort was a good one but not a great one. I have been told that all the characters he introduces in the first book begin to make more sense in the next two books in the series so I am definitely willing to give the second book a try. Azoth's story was compelling enough that I do want to find out what happens to him. I think Weeks has good storytelling capability overall, but I do hope the next book is less rushed and has more complete character development with the supporting characters.