Review: ‘The Way of Shadows’ by Brent Weeks

The Way of Shadows is Book 1 of Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy. I had several friends recommend these books a couple of years ago and they’ve been on my TBR (to be read) shelf since. I’ve finally gotten around to them (I wanted to read this trilogy before starting Weeks’ first installment of  The Lightbringer series, The Black Prism which I hear was amazing!) and I’m glad to have done so.

Before I continue, a bit about Book 1:

The perfect killer has no friends. Only targets.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly — and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics — and cultivate a flair for death.


Admittedly, this book started off rather slow for me. I was more than a few chapters invested in the book before it really began to flow for me but then… then I was snared. So much so that I began writing this review before I had reached the halfway point in the book.

One reason I think it was difficult to dive right into this story was the deplorable situation in which the reader finds the first characters to be introduced. It was horrific, the lives of these street children who were forced into crime and so much more that no child should ever endure. It made me sick but it also made me care.

I realize that this is a fantasy series, and that bad things always happen to the protagonist for one reason or another. The fact that it’s not real, that Weeks made me feel so deeply for the characters and their situation so early in the book is in retrospect, quite the impressive feat. It generally takes some time for me to ‘bond’ with the characters in the books I read so my near immediate concern for Azoth and his friends, was a rare occurrence.

Still, even though I did care about these waifs and what was to become of them, my initial reading was sporadic and I found excuses to put the book down after a chapter, or half of a chapter, to go to bed early or watch some TV. It was obvious that my concern for those young characters was weighing on my mind  however, when after a time I would pick the book back up and continue. In no time, I was flying through the pages… eagerly, hungrily. I was hooked. Weeks had cast his line and after a few timid nibbles, I was caught.

I’ve just finished and am looking forward to picking up the next book in the trilogy, Shadow’s Edge. The last half of this first book was read in several large chunks because it was so difficult to put it down. I was anxious to learn of the fate of Kylar and all of his friends and so while the first half went slowly, the second went very quickly. I was even moved to tears by a certain exodus that featured not a single main character, it was so well written and full of emotion.

The magic system was interesting to me as was Cenaria’s cutthroat political scene. I was also struck by Kylar’s inner struggle with who he wished he could have been compared with who he had become… who he had chosen to become. Upon turning the last page, there was enough closure in some respects to make it a satisfying read but at the same time, there are enough loose ends to ensure that I’ll waste very little time before picking up the second installment in the trilogy. I just have to find out what happens next.

Review: ‘Dead Witch Walking’ by Kim Harrison (audio)

In preparation for the February 22, 2011 release of Kim Harrison’s Pale Demon, book #9 in her popular Hollows Series, I’m doing a re-listen of the entire series and I’ve just finished listening to book #1, Dead Witch Walking. The books are quick, fun reads and feature many colorful characters including the main protagonist, sassy witch Rachel Morgan and her new business partners, Ivy (a living vampire) and the ever snarky pixy, Jenks. Marguerite Gavin is the reader (of this book and most of the other Hollows books, though not all) and she’s quite good, despite a habit of tending to pause in the middle of a sentence now and again. Still, I enjoy her reading quite a lot and she’s great at giving each of the characters their own voice. I especially love listening to her read Jenks.

Synopsis of Book #1:

The underground population of witches, vampires, werewolves—creatures of dreams and nightmares—has lived beside humans for centuries, hiding their powers. But after a genetically engineered virus wipes out a large part of humanity, many of the “Inderlanders” reveal themselves, changing everything.

Rachel Morgan, witch and bounty hunter with the Inderland Runner Services, is one of the best at apprehending supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati, but when it comes to following the rules, she falls desperately short. Determined to buck the system, she quits and takes off on the run with an I.S. contract on her head and is reluctantly forced to team up with Ivy, Inderland’s best runner . . . and a living vampire. But this witch is way out of her league, and to clear her name, Rachel must evade shape-changing assassins, outwit a powerful businessman/crime lord, and survive a vicious underground fight-to-the-death . . . not to mention her own roommate.


I found a less than stellar listener review on somewhat amusing when it said that women who read Harlequin books would enjoy this book but that he, a reader of Heinlein, certainly did not. I, for one, have never read a Harlequin romance and most likely never will and I enjoyed this book immensely. This listen was my second, after reading the actual book once and I still had a good time and got a lot of laughs out of the story.

Of course, as the series progresses, things get darker and there are many a tear-inducing scene but this first book was fro the most part, light-hearted and fun and definitely a quick and enjoyable listen/read. Also, despite other reader/listener reviews I’ve seen that criticize the main character, Rachel Morgan, I quite like her and find her self-doubt and occasional missteps endearing and believable. Also, to those who would criticize her internal dialogue when looking at a man, of course she checks out the guys! What single twenty-something -be they female or male- doesn’t check out members of the opposite sex and ponder the possibilities in their head? Criticism of this nature is silly, in my opinion; if I like a story, I like it. And I like this one. On to book #2!

“Tweet Me A Story” Contest

In line with Writing About Writing, I’ve just submitted three extremely short stories containing my assigned word (which was “perfect”) for an NYC Midnight contest:

Contest rules for stage 1:

The stories must be no longer than 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation. The assigned word must be spelled exactly as it’s posted. For example, if the assigned word is fast, then variations of fast such as faster, fasting and fastest will not be accepted. Stories may be written any way you like (i.e. poetry, abbreviations, excessive punctuation, etc…), as long as the assigned world is included in its entirety.


As the submission deadline has passed, I’m at liberty to share my submissions. Mind you, this was purely for fun and I wrote all three ‘Tweet stories’ within about 15 minutes. I’ll find out if I move on in the contest next Tuesday and I’ll be sure to post a comment here if I’m chosen to continue to Round 2 of the contest.


Tweet Story #1

What a lovely day. She was smiling so happily and nary a shadow marred her face. It was the perfect shot. I took aim and pulled the trigger.

Tweet Story #2

As I arrive, I decide to confess my love. We’re perfect for each other after all. Wait, who’s that woman with him and why is he kissing her?

Tweet Story #3

My wedding night is perfect! I’ve waited so long for him. My anticipation peaks as he disrobes. My eyes widen. What the hell IS that thing?!