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The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy)

[A few notes before my review: I’m writing a new series that has some assassin-esk stuff in it. I went on a search of books that were assassin based with lots of killing and questionable morality. While I found a number of suggestions, the Night Angel trilogy really called to me. I was familiar with Brent Weeks because I’d read the first book in his Lightbringer Series. The book was an instant hit for me and I read it over about 6 weeks. I now own the full paperback set.]

(5/5⭐️) “Life is empty. When we take a life, we aren’t taking anything of value. Wetboys are killers.” This dark fantasy will take you on a wild journey of an assassins rise to power and what he does with it.

Azoth is a young boy living in the slums of Cenaria while Durzo is a “wetboy” dealing death efficiently. Cenaria is a dangerous and dirty place. Azoth is powerless, a homeless street urchin with a gang leader who wants to kill him. When the lives of those Azoth loves are threatened, Azoth decides he wants to be just like Durzo. Only then will he hold the power to keep those he loves safe. Only then can he stop looking over his shoulder. But the road to becoming a “wetboy” isn’t easy. He must forsake love. He must abandon his identity and take up a new one. A wetboy wears many masks.

This story was WOW. It’s one that sticks with you long after you’ve set it down. The book itself is long, full of twists and turns. The layers of complexity were woven so tightly together, that I was only permitted to unravel one each piece of knowledge at a time. After unraveling a number of them, they knots loosened up and began falling apart right into my hands. What started as a story that felt like one thing, twisted into a story that was entirely something else. By the time I’d reached the second half, I found myself shocked at every corner, devouring as much information as I could, drinking it in, only to further feed my surprise.

As a reader, I wasn’t made privy to the characters’ decisions before hand. I was forced to watch them unfold and question them later. This made me question each one as I tried to piece together a mysterious puzzle and make sense of all that was happening. I adored Durzo and Azoth from the start, but as I got to know them, I loved them even more. They both felt so real to me, so human. Durzo became a man of mystery to me, someone I thought I understood only to find out I was wrong. Azoth’ s character was easier to predict, but even still he did things that surprised me. My favorite thing about his character was his defiance. He refused to forsake love even though he was ordered to.

Relationships are ropes. Love is a noose. If you come with me, you must forswear love. Do you know what that means?

I’m not sure Azoth understood what he was giving up at first, and for a long time, he was okay with his decision. But as he aged, the weight of it came crashing down upon him. He was forced to make many difficult choices.

The end of the story came together beautifully. I was continuously tricked by the author so many times, right up to the last pages. I found myself crying when a certain death occurred. I won’t say which for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but that showed me exactly how much these characters grew on me. And because the story was a long one, I had plenty of time to grow attached to them.

This is the only assassins book where the assassin felt true to what an assassin should be. The lack of emotion present, the insane body control, the train of thought, the split second decisions. It was all incredibly convincing. I loved Week’s use of “deader” to indicate someone who was a target. And his use of “wetboy” instead of assassin.

Oh, and if you’re someone who loves political intrigue, this book is oozing with it. You don’t simply have the royal government, you’ve got the “Sa’kage” which is an underground group of nine, who are really the ones that call the shots. Then you’ve got all the outside forces trying to take over the country. Everyone wants control of the wetboys because they are the most lethal of anyone.

In terms of character growth, we see both Durzo and Azoth change as the story goes on. This story traverses about 15 years. We see Azoth transform into a hardened adult. We see Durzo develop a fondness for a son he never had. The growth is definitely there, and both of these characters are different by the end of the book. So much happens to change them.

I never found myself bored. Too often long books like this get tedious. I found myself looking forward to each moment when I could steal away and read a few chapters. Granted, it took me nearly two months to finish it, but that’s because I was reading other books in tandem. This was one I wanted to savor slowly, one I wanted to allow time to mature in my mind. I enjoyed every moment of this read, and with each cliff hanger, I found myself struggling to set it down. It moved with a rapid pace that kept me wanting more.

For a first book, Brent Weeks did a superb job. I’m astounded by his work. I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed the first book of his other series “The Lightbringer” series. I can’t wait to dive into the second and third books. I’m nervous and I hope I enjoy them as much as I did this one.


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