Science fiction and fantasy
by Brent Weeks
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.
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In the third book of The First Law the kingdom faces war. But Superior Glokta wants to know who is really pulling the strings.
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A beautiful assassin must secure her freedom by winning a contest against other thieves and killers. But a year as a slave has left her weakened and out of practice.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Brent Weeks
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