The Way of Shadows, by Brent Weeks (2008) E

Date read: 8.20.11
Book from: Borrowed from my cousin
Reviewer: Emera

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art – and he is the city’s most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly – and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics – and cultivate a flair for death.

Wall-to-wall epic darque fantasy cheesefest, aww yeah. This came to me in a booky care package from my cousin, along with its sequels in the Night Angel trilogy. I would probably have enjoyed the whole thing when I was about twelve (I say that without – okay, with only a little bit of judgment; I welcome strategic doses of darque cheese in my life), but being shorter on reading time these days, I just skimmed the first volume for flavor.

Moody antihero with traumatic past and an even more traumatized yet brave love interest, check. Nomenclature liberally peppered with apostrophes and accent marks, check. Hard-bitten mentor, training montages, sadistic antagonists, and sundry scenes of carnage interleaved with swells of sentimental glurge, check. (I couldn’t get this particular glurge-bit out of my head after stumbling upon a bedroom scene: “Curve yielded to curve with the sweetness that inspired art.”)

The clumsy sentimentality and generally cliché-packed prose are what set me skimming after only a page or three, but on the plus side, the earnestness wasn’t entirely unappealing, there’s at least one non-white protagonist, and what I saw of the female characters (when it wasn’t their yielding curves) seemed moderately sensibly written. I’d still stick to Robin Hobb for my epic-assassin-y needs, though.

Go to:
Brent Weeks: bio and works reviewed
Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb (1995): review by Emera

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