The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Read in December 2009
Similar in style to The Lies of Locke Lamora or The Blade Itself – gritty fantasy, bloody coups, relentless pace, morally challenged characters. The fantasy elements played second fiddle to the fighting, poisoning and similar training of the first half of the story. As the story unfolds, many characters names change, but not to protect any innocents.
Graphic violence and obscenities, while prevalent, were well placed and not over-used. The fighting sequences didn’t thrill me, nor did the political intrigue. Lately, I’m beginning to believe that the fantasy genre only has two avenues of expression – political power struggle where all the players wear gray or prophesied chosen child on a quest in a black and white landscape.
Weeks surprised me with a handful of precious tender moments between the characters, some of which brought tears to my eyes, often occurring in the vilest of surroundings or events. I smiled at some of the clever dialogue, but never laughed out loud.
Weeks managed to provide me with enough glimmers of hope and light amidst the dark, depraved, nihilistic fog to satisfy my yearning for redemption. He reminded me that no matter how abhorrent the deeds, the transgressor is always worthy of another chance. He allowed his characters to suffer, giving them the opportunity to stretch beyond their perceived limits, grasping for the fleeting glimpse of salvation and becoming better and stronger as a result.
Good character development with some twists and turns that managed to stay believable. Stands alone well, but leaves many questions unanswered.