Sunday, 31 July 2011

Monday morning book review - The Way of Shadows

As it's Monday morning and i'm striving to be cheerful and interested in the world, i thought i'd review a book that i read recently and loved.

It's called The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, and despite sounding like a bad ninja movie it's a really good read. It's a fantasy book set in a very well realised world that works. I find with some fantasy novels i struggle with the world as the author seems a little unsure, but this one is sound.

The story revolves around an orphan, Azoth, who is part of a street gang, one of the many that roam the warrens. The warrens is a slum area, and because slavery was abolished some years before the start of the book the area is teeming with little urchins and not so little bashers, all of them vying for a place in the criminal underworld.

So Azoth, a street kid with a little too much heart, eventually finds himself apprenticed to one Durzo Blint, a Wetboy. Wetboys are assassins that can use magic to a certain extent, and are feared by one and all. Cue watching Azoth's struggle to retain his soul as he learns to kill for a living, whilst juggling all the different parts of his life and trying to hold them together. It's masterfully crafted and keeps you turning page after page long after you should be doing something else.

Brent Weeks writes a mean character. Each of the main characters is excellently realised, and the supporting characters clearly have lives of their own that we only glimpse as we pass them in the book.

I've been very vague on the plot to avoid spoilers, but the book is packed full of action and intrigue on both a court and street level, with characters that are rarely good or evil, they just are.

For anyone who has even had a vague brush with fantasy i recommend this book. It's the first in a trilogy and the second promises to be just as good.

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