Seak (Bryce L.)'s Reviews > The Way of Shadows

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
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Nov 29, 11

bookshelves: 2010, fantasy, 650-800-pagers
Read from February 20 to 26, 2010

There are a few authors, Joe Abercrombie included, whose books I've read in large part because everything they've said outside of their novels (on blogs, etc.) has been hilarious and witty and they don't take themselves too seriously. Brent Weeks (or Sussex Months...yes I still think it's funny) is one of those authors.

One of the reasons it's taken me this long to get to this book is because I think the cover is awful. I know cover art doesn't really effect anything and probably shouldn't anyway, but it was very off-putting for me. Does anyone really want to see Hayden Christensen dressed up for Halloween on a cover? Maybe I shouldn't ask that... :) (It does look like HC doesn't it?)

The covers were what set this series apart, although it's hard to imagine that now, but they set the standard that is now almost a necessity and I can at least give them credit for doing that much. But really, what would a fantasy novel cover be without a cowled figure anyway...original?

Okay, now that the cheap shots are out of the way. I do love a good hood and The Way of Shadows (2008, 645 pp.) is full of them. Realistic covers, for me though, only really work for urban fantasy/paranormal romance. It must be the tats I guess. :)

This tale begins with the struggles of our main protagonist, Azoth, a guild rat - a nothing who's got no where to go and nothing to lose. His only way to escape the slums and a life of cruelty and pain is to apprentice himself to Durzo Blint, a renowned wetboy (kinda like an assassin times a hundred) and legend. This, however, is not as easy as he supposed since he is forced to turn his back on anyone he's ever loved and devote himself to a practice that's not altogether savory for anyone with some sense of morals. Like the cover blurb says, "The perfect killer has no friends - only targets."

To accomplish this, Azoth is given a new identity and a new name, Kylar Stern, while he begins his training and attempts to unleash his "Talent", or his magical abilities that would extend his skills as a wetboy.

The Way of Shadows is a fast-paced dynamite of a novel. I was up late into the night burning through pages to find out the next twist. I have to admit, I love a good assassin-themed novel. Weeks does a great job with characterization and I became really attached to Kylar, Momma K, and Logan; some awesome characters with convincing motives. This is the definite focus over world-building, which while an admirably realized world, is only given the barest of details necessary to further the plot. In a character/plot driven novel, The Way of Shadows doesn't get bogged down in description and it was much appreciated.

Kylar, although desiring to be a killer, is easy to relate to and has his own qualms throughout the story of doing such work. His character works well with his cranky master, Durzo Blint, who seems to have given up any such feelings of regret for his job. And, although this story plays on many fantasy archetypes (assassins, masters, a powerful sword, an unconquerable enemy), Weeks creates a unique feel that is all his own.

One thing I was surprised about was how violent The Way of Shadows is. For some reason, it was not what I was expecting (weird - assassins = violent?), leaning more toward The First Law trilogy than anything. I'm not complaining, it was only unexpected. Weeks does a good job weaving it into the story adding to the emotions (mostly of hatred toward the inflicter) the reader feels for the characters.

Basic grammar errors, such as missing words, were almost to the point of annoyance, but didn't distract too much from the story and in the end I felt that the climax was a little underwhelming as I didn't feel like the actions of the main characters were as necessary as they were made out to be. Otherwise The Way of Shadows was romping good fun. I didn't realize I would like this series so much.

When Should You Read The Way of Shadows?

The best time to read The Way of Shadows is when you're in the mood for something action-packed and quick-paced. If you need a break from reading description after description and you want something that moves the plot forward through short, concise chapters, The Way of Shadows will do you good.

And in the end, covers don't really matter as long as the book's good.

(side note: I may sound like I hate descriptive novels, but this is far from the truth. I do like balance, however, and a frequent mix of faster and slower novels fit the bill for me.)

Rating and Links

4 out of 5 Stars (Really really liked it)
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Comments (showing 1-23)




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message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I only read these because of the covers :P

It was an "ooh, shiny!" impulse buy and I had never even heard of the books or the author before.


Rodolfo Have you seen the cover to the Black Prism? Soooo bad. But like this series, its worth reading.


Seak (Bryce L.) @Ala - Haha, I know! That was actually one of the big things about this book that the covers appealed to so many people, I just hated them. But to each their own right. :)

@ Rodolfo - Yeah, I have that book, I'm waiting for the next one to be release before I jump in. I really like Weeks, but those covers are terrible.


Rodolfo I just read it and im bummed because the next one isnt out for some time. But I will move on to the Heroes.


Kevin Xu I really need to read this book. My friend said that he would let me borrow the whole trilogy about three weeks ago, but I have not heard from him since.


Seak (Bryce L.) @Rodolfo - I still need to read Best Served and the Heroes. I've fallen behind on my crombie.

@Kevin - I really think you'll enjoy this series especially with your enjoyment of Drizzt and the Forgotten Realms. This is just fast-paced awesome.


message 17: by Sath (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sath I must admit I don't think its a particularly good cover picture, but it does its job, I mean who doesn't love a hooded assassin? I really need to get around to reading this! :)


Matthew Kern The picture did not turn me off as much as the über cliche quote on the front "the perfect killer has no friends - only targets." yikes. Should have left that off.


Rodolfo yea it has its fair amount of cheese. But I was really surprised that I like the whole series. It was pure candy, but shifted gears just before it got stale. I heard they are thinking about making it a movie.


message 14: by Todd (new) - rated it 5 stars

Todd Haha when I was skirting around buying this series I referred to it to my wife as the "gay ninja trilogy" (judging only on the cover, obviously). Eventually we picked it up on sale and despite the cover, I really loved this series.


Rodolfo lol. yea my wife said I was reading a "boy" book. but she read it too and loved it.


Seak (Bryce L.) Nice, that is so true/hilarious. I don't think my wife noticed, but she definitely does when I read any urban fantasy...you know...the ones with the tramp stamps...


Rodolfo Same thing with Heroes Die (Overworld #1)
by Matthew Stover. I had to hide that cover.


Seak (Bryce L.) Oh yeah, that one's terrible. Great book, but terrible cover.


message 9: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn I looked it up. Shouldn't it be a Right Said Fred album cover or something?


Seak (Bryce L.) Yes, that's where it belongs. :D


Nataliya Does anyone really want to see Hayden Christensen dressed up for Halloween on a cover?

I did not enjoy this book much, but your review is great :) I share your sentiments about the awful cover.


Seak (Bryce L.) Nataliya wrote: "Does anyone really want to see Hayden Christensen dressed up for Halloween on a cover?

I did not enjoy this book much, but your review is great :) I share your sentiments about the awful cover."


At least I know you have some good taste. :D :D :D


Seak (Bryce L.) Kat wrote: "Don't suppose this will make your day, Seak, but your review (and the subsequent comments) had 2 effects on me:

1) I will bump this book up in my to-read list.
2) I must confess that I got no prob..."


It really is a good read and I'm sure plenty of people have no problem with Hayden Christensen, I really just have a problem with his acting in the second movie. The third worked fine for me. :)


Chelsea I was put off from this series for so long because of the covers, but I'm really damn glad Goodreads exists to provide great reviews of a great book!


Seak (Bryce L.) Chelsea wrote: "I was put off from this series for so long because of the covers, but I'm really damn glad Goodreads exists to provide great reviews of a great book!"

I'm with you there. With all its flaws this is a great series that I still think about from time to time (good sign). Also, if I had to get rid of all internet sites but one, I'd keep Goodreads w/o a second thought. :D


Sarah Matthew wrote: "The picture did not turn me off as much as the über cliche quote on the front "the perfect killer has no friends - only targets." yikes. Should have left that off."


Sarah I know! I saw that after I read the series. (I got the trilogy as one binding.) I laughed out loud when I saw that on the cover. If I'd seen it first, I never would have picked up the book. And it is a GREAT series!


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