Review: The Way of Shadows
The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Liked it; didn't love it.
Lots of elements were individually good, but just didn't come together. Kylar's (really? You named your character for a pun, and you expect me to take him seriously?) passionate obsessive love for a girl he last spoke to when she was 8? Yeah, not so much. (Kinda creepy, really, stalker-boy.) His dislike of himself and his own profession? Nice facet, but it didn't get sold with any real evidence. We don't _see_ him kill much of anyone, and either be disgusted by it or hardened to it. And then he murders about a hundred guys wearing "I'm a Stormtrooper" t-shirts in the climax, and _that_ doesn't seem to bother him any. Powerless hero acquires uber-magic - but he does it so effortlessly that it feels a bit cheap (Kylar even makes a comment wondering why he spent so much time learning his skills - which more-or-less echoed my thoughts about why I'd spent so long reading about him learning them...) The twist at the end, where we find out who the minion bossfight is really with, didn't hit home much because we didn't care much about who we thought he was up until then; he just appears halfway through the book and starts kicking puppies and twirling moustaches for no reason. Turns out he had a reason, but by hiding it from us for so long so you could make it a twist, you made us just not care about the character at all.
I did like that many of the standard fantasy plot elements actually had reasons to be there. Powerless orphan gets taken up for training by mysterious, powerful teacher? Yeah, but the teacher is selfishly using him for his own ends. Whore-with-a-heart-of-gold befriends our hero? Yeah, but she's working through her own love-hate relationship with said teacher. Final confrontation with the teacher - felt a little forced at the time - but he _has_ to kill him to take the Magic MacGuffin of Power, instead of just doing it because plot. That sort of thing.
On the whole, I enjoyed it, and will continue the series. Not looking forward to discovering who Kylar's parents were (he's an orphan in a fantasy book; of _course_ his parents are important and powerful) but I'm curious to see where we go from here.
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