Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review - Shadow's edge

Shadow’s Edge – Brent Weeks
Anyone that read my review of Brent Week’s debut novel in the Night Angel trilogy will know that I did not get on with it. I found some of the dialogue so amateurish that I couldn’t believe an author had actually written it. I also knew I was in the minority.
You always hear of readers who laugh out loud at books, or openly cry at certain scenes, I have read some great books in my life, but none have ever made me cry and very few have made me laugh out loud. There was one scene in particular in Brent Week’s first book though that made me put the book down in disgust at the writing.
I try not to judge an author based on one book and I know how hard it is to not only write a novel but to put it out there to be judged by others but I did make a vow not to continue with the rest of the series.
A strange thing happened though. My brother in law read the book (we share very similar tastes) and hated the book with a passion. I however, found myself defending it. I began pointing out parts that I thought were actually very good. 
As time went on, these scenes stayed with me, more than some other books that I regarded quite highly. It got to the point where I decided Brent Weeks decided another chance.
So after a very long winded introduction:
The blurb:
Kylar Stern has rejected the assassin's life. The Godking's successful coup has left Kylar's master, Durzo, and his best friend, Logan, dead. He is starting over: new city, new friends, and new profession.

But when he learns that Logan might actually be alive and in hiding, Kylar is faced with an agonizing choice: will he give up the way of shadows forever and live in peace with his new family, or will he risk everything by taking on the ultimate hit?
I am so pleased I gave Brent Weeks another try. Everything I hated about the first book had been eliminated (well almost) and everything I loved there was more of. What is more surprising is that Brent released his trilogy back to back over a period of three months. He did not have time to react to public feedback, but instinctively seems to have written a better book.
Kylar is a lot more rounded as a character. He struggles to leave his violent life behind and lead the life he thinks he wants to lead. However, it soon becomes apparent he is not happy doing that. Weeks handles the angst Kylar feels well. The conflict is realistic and the journey Kylar undergoes in accepting who his inner self, is believable.
It is not perfect however, the whole frustration Kylar feels at the lack of intimacy with Elene is sometimes clunky. It can read like a teenager’s diary in places but overall the situation is well thought out and reasoned well. Elene herself is a bit weak as a character. Yes she takes the initiative and tries to take control of her destiny, but you never really take her seriously.
Kylar is immortal and this also has his drawbacks. There is nothing worse than seeing someone die and then never known if they are really dead. It spoils all emotional impact of their death and becomes more of an eye roll than anything.
Logan Gyre however is a fantastic character. The early scenes with him in Hell’s Arsehole are terrific. Weeks captures the despair and misery of the hole perfectly, whilst also creating a truly memorable cast of characters for Logan to interact with. It is these scenes that are the strongest in the novel by a long way.
Vi is also a character that develops in this book. Vi wrestles with the path she has chosen and one that has been chosen for her by the God King. Out of everyone in the story, Vi is perhaps the most complex and well drawn. She has the typical hard exterior that dominate how others view her, but gradually Weeks peels back layers to her character that make her more sympathetic. Her interactions with Kylar are also a high point.
The God King is a little cartoonish as a villain. For some reason many dislike this these days preferring to have “real” villains that have logical motivations, but I like it. Sometimes you want your villain to be evil for the sake of being evil.
The plot is rather simple but unravels at a nice even pace. The reluctant hero being forced into action one more time is certainly nothing new, but Kylar’s resistance is not out of stubbornness, he wants to go back to his old life but tries to fight that desire. Around him the other parties gather together and scheme but despite the multiple viewpoints, this is really Kylar’s story.
The ending whilst satisfying for the most part, also felt a little rushed in others. The main story was concluded nicely, but Weeks used a long epilogue to wrap up some sort of resolution for all of the other characters, before leaving it on a nice cliff hanger.
Overall, I was very impressed with the second entry in the Night Angel series. I was definitely pleased I gave it a chance.
My rating: 8.7