Monday, May 12, 2014

WAY OF SHADOWS

All Azoth wanted was to escape the slums. To no longer be a guild rat struggling just to feed himself and his friends. The only way out, in his mind, is to become an apprentice to Durzo Blint, one of the most infamous wetboys in the city. It is a high risk, but in order to survive Azoth sees no other choice. Blint never takes apprentices, but for some reason sees potential in Azoth. In order for Azoth to enter into the world of assassins, he needs to leave the life he lived behind, including abandoning his friends and never contacting them again. Is this something Azoth can do? Azoth soon takes on a new identity as Kylar Stern, a nobleman of low rank. He navigates both the noble life as well as the wetboy life. Throughout his career he is faced with choices which could mean life or death, are they choices he is ready to make?

The story starts out with some detailed descriptions of the life in the Warrens, which does include child abuse, sexual abuse, and extreme violence. Azoth faces some horrors during his life on the streets and does what he needs to in order to apprentice with Blint, even if it means killing someone. Azoth soon learns he has Talent (magical powers of sorts) but for some reason has been unable to use them. While Azoth and Blint complete jobs they learn secrets from the nobles which include plots to kill various other nobles and incite a war. As Kylar grows up he begins to meet new people and experience things that teach him who he needs to trust.

There is a lot that happens in this novel. Not only does it follow Azoth/Kylar’s training with Blint and him trying to figure out his Talent, but we also follow the plot to overthrow the king and others in positions of power like the Shinga. Secrets are revealed and people are killed left and right. There are points when it does become confusing trying to keep everything together and remember what is happening and when it’s happening. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and remember who is who especially Aleine the king and Aleine the prince. The interesting part of the story was the secret to why Kylar cannot use his Talent (magic). It was an interesting twist to the story and an interesting solution to it. I am looking forward to seeing what is coming in the next novel of the series regarding this.

The characters all have their different personalities which is feat with so many different characters in one novel. I enjoyed Kylar’s character because he was the moral conscience of the story, he was the one who would rather focus on moral judgment rather than the shear fact that someone was a “deader.” He found value in all life and as you read the story you can feel the turmoil when he needed to kill someone. Whereas with the character of Blint; he is the character who threw morals away long ago. Through his pain he fears letting someone close, he fears seeing people as a person rather than a potential job. A common quote used throughout the story was “life is meaningless” and one wonders if Blint feels this about his own life.

The other characters seem to represent another virtue or value that Kylar seen as important in a person. Doll Girl was hope, despite the pain and turmoil she went through she had hope and love. Logan was friendship and loyalty even when there were rumors about his beloved, he refused to believe them. Even Count Drake represented kindness and gentleness. Momma K displayed power no matter the role she played, she was powerful. That was a highly enjoyable part of the story, to see these characteristics personified into the characters. You cannot help but like many of the characters; I found myself wanting more from Doll Girl (Eilene). You soon get attached to the characters and are saddened if they happen to die.

The descriptions Weeks used throughout the novel were excellent; I could almost see the action playing out as a movie as I read from scene to scene. I kept thinking to myself “this would make for a great movie.” Each setting was distinct and had its own features; many other novels tend to have the same features in different scenes. Not with this novel. The Warrens where completely different from the castle in the way they were described you could almost smell the stench of the Warrens compared to the semi-fresh air of the castles. Each castle even had their own distinctive characteristics; the Drake castle was completely different from Aleine’s castle. Whenever I read about a castle or palace the same images are always used. Here Weeks takes those images and twists them into different things. Where the Gyre home had books and historical d├ęcor; the Jadwin home focused more on art work and sculptures. Weeks has a talent of painting a beautiful picture with his words.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Bottom Line: the story was slow to start but really picks up after a while.  There is a lot to take in at first but it sets the stage for further novels.

Pro: good plot and storyline, interesting character personalities

Cons: takes too long to develop the actually story.  Gives a lot of background details.

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