Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Shadow's Edge

by Brent Weeks

cover  

The Way Of Shadows told Kylar Stern's story as he made the transition from slum boy to perfect killer. In Shadow's Edge Kylar is ready to leave his old life behind once more in order to escape the guilt and viciousness of the wetboy's profession. He has a new family, job, and city, and every reason to make a fresh start.

However the Godking Garoth Ursuul has imposed an iron rule over Cenaria City, and his reach is long. What the Godking wants he usually gets, and he has his sights on a magical artefact in Kylar's possession.

Meanwhile Kylar's friend Logan is fighting for survival in the depths of a dungeon known as the Hole. Even if he can survive starvation and getting killed by his fellow prisoners he can't let anyone know who he really is, because if his secret got out the regime would execute him.

In Cenaria City there's an atmosphere of desperation as people try to resist the occupying forces. Nobles and poor alike attempt to hide, but there's no getting away from the hunger that threatens to ravage the population. Shadow's Edge isn't for the easily shocked, since the Godking is creative and extreme in his cruelty.

Brent Weeks introduces a quite few new characters into this sequel, and includes people from several neighbouring countries in the narrative. Sister Ariel, a mage from a matriarchal order, has to venture into a lethally cursed forest. In the south Feir Cousat attempts to keep a legendary sword out of the wrong hands. The seer Dorian battles madness as he tries to use his gift of prophecy, and Vi Sovari is forced to choose between her fear of the Godking and her loyalty to one of the few friends she has known. There are a lot of interweaving threads, and in other hands the complexity might be baffling. Brent Weeks gets away with it because his characters are distinctive, their situations memorable and moving.

As the story progresses tension builds, and the main characters are increasingly trapped by their circumstances. Shadow's Edge is a gripping read, intense and visceral. If there's one thing that mars the writing it's a tendency to lapse into melodrama occasionally. Kings, destiny and acts of noble self-sacrifice go to people's heads and cause the characters to lose all sense of cynicism. Whether this is actually a flaw or an example of stirring storytelling is a matter of taste, I'll grant. However, it's hard to read a few of the later passages in the book without imagining O Fortuna playing in the background as people march out to do valiant deeds in slow-motion.

These moments are brief, though. Overall this novel is far too hard-edged to indulge in such romanticism for very long. Intricate and inventive, the second volume in the Night Angel trilogy has what it takes to keep readers hooked on the bitter business.

Book Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Books

  Fantasy
    Male Protagonist  
  Not For The Squeamish  

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Brent Weeks

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