I read the first of this series a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it – and what with one thing and another, lost track of it. I’m so glad that I picked up the second one – it’s been a blast.
Kylar has rejected the assassin’s life. In the wake of the Godking’s violent coup, both his master and his closest friend are dead. His friend was Logan Gyre, heir to Cenaria’s throne, but few of the ruling class survive to mourn his loss. So Kylar is starting over: new city, new companions, and new profession. But when he learns that Logan might be alive, trapped and in hiding, Kylar faces an impossible choice. He could give up the way of shadows forever, and find peace with his young family. Or Kylar could succumb to his flair for destruction, the years of training, to save his friend and his country – and lose all he holds precious.
Kylar is fascinating – a young man with awesome powers and a strong motivation not to use them, who faces a horrible choice. And, yes, I did really care about the decision he makes, which – given this is just one storyline in this epic doorstopper, teeming with a significant cast of characters, several of them plain horrible – is a feat. My personal taste is intense, first person narratives set in a confined space with often nuanced, subtle threats in amongst the big bad stuff. Though Weeks isn’t completely opposite in writing style to my ideal book, it’s getting close. Nevertheless, I loved this read from the first action-packed page, right through to the climactic ending.
And if you are addicted to adrenaline-fuelled, full-on action from the outset with BIG STUFF happening in every single chapter, then this is the book for you. Granted, the worldbuilding isn’t the last thing in originality – in fact we’re right back in the very familiar late-Medieval/early modern hundred-years-war mid-European unpleasantness so often depicted with this sub-genre. But I’ll give Weeks a free pass on that one – he has saved his creativity for the tightly-knit narrative and enjoyable cast of characters. While there is much that is cosily familiar – the young hero cast into a role he’d rather not fulfil versus the power-mad mage, there are also a lot more well drawn, sympathetic protagonists who leap off the page with such power and immediacy, I was quickly drawn right back into Weeks’ world.
It was also refreshing to read epic fantasy by a male author with a wide cast of women and girls. While there are a sprinkling of helpless virginal pawns and evil bitches – the majority are nuanced and every bit as complicated as their male counterparts. What keeps the tension level high, is that Weeks isn’t averse to killing off a fair proportion of his main characters and the battle scene near the end is a fitting high point to this full-tilt adventure.
If you’re sick of books where self absorbed characters spend pages obsessing about their feelings and the pace moves forward with all the urgency of a dozing snail – go and track down the first book The Way of Shadows. It’s well-plotted, action-packed fun.