Monday, July 13, 2009

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (review)

Title: The Way of Shadows
Author: Brent Weeks
Illustrator: N/A
Pages: 645
Genre: Fiction
Dewey Decimal: F Wee
ISBN: 978-0-316-03367-1
Cost: $7.99

As I was reading, I was continually preparing myself for countless graphic scenes involving children being abused physically and sexually. In my mind, I was envisioning a written version of something profoundly evil and stomach churning. But those early reviews led me a but beyond what was actually in the book. Yes, crimes are committed against children and adults. But it was not as graphic as I expected. Nothing as bad as Elie Wiesel's Night but there was enough horror implied for the reader to understand what was happening.

Thankfully this "dreaded" section of the book was also early in the book. Because once past it, I began to actually focus on the story itself and was pleasantly surprised. I had heard good things about Weeks and those views were right on the mark. He has written a great book that gives the reader a great mix of action, adventure, love, treachery, twists, and turns.

The plot is the basic premise of a young boy with nothing being taken in by an old man that's the master of his trade. Think Obi-Wan and Luke. But the twist in this story is that Obi-Wan is as evil as Darth Vader and Luke is, well, he turns just as evil. While it's not the best comparison, you get the idea.

But Weeks takes the story beyond that. The world used for the setting is not described in much detail, but there's enough to get the basic geography. The characters are clearly defined but like any gem, have so many facets that you don't know if you're seeing them in their true setting. The action scenes are horrifically wonderful. And when assassins are defined as something lesser than wet-boys, you get the idea that death and the act of killing is a bit of an art form. An art form Weeks does well with.

In the end, I'd recommend this book without a doubt. While I was hoping for more geography lessons in the book, the world is not a major character. The city is to a degree, but it acts better as a backdrop for the action. The version I read also had an interview, which I would recommend reading as well. I think it gives you a different twist on the overall scope of the story. I never would have thought there was "hope" or "peace" in the book, but there is.


John Zeleznik said...

I'd been waffling on this book for a while. Since it's a paperback, maybe I'll pick it up. I'm just starting Morgan's The Steel Remains this week.

Neil Richard said...

Keep me posted on Morgan's book. I've been thinking about reading it for awhile now.

And I'd pick up Weeks' book if you can. It's worth it.

ediFanoB said...

I read "The Way of Shadows" and I liked it. I also read "The Steel Remains" which contains more sex and violence and is darker.

Neil Richard said...

Hadn't heard that about The Steel Remains, but I enjoyed Abercrombie's series so it shouldn't be a problem.