Way of the Shadows

I finally finished the Shadow’s series by Brent Weeks.

The first book (Way of the Shadows) was a fun ride. I really enjoyed it. Stayed up til 6AM reading it. My only problem was the introduction of some minor characters that really weren’t as minor as they seemed and really weren’t explained. They just …showed up, did some stuff, and ran off. It was mildly confusing. Overall, though, the book was fantastic and I greatly enjoyed it. It didn’t go how I had expected – though the plot twist at the end was a bit out of the blue. There wasn’t much leadup to it. Additionally, Kylar, for all that he grew up on the streets is remarkably… feminine. Maybe it’s Jarl’s fault? I dunno. Also, though it’s questioned, no one explains why Kylar’s original name was Azoth, though it’s hinted that he’s something more – maybe his parents were important, but it’s never explained and that’s something I’m really curious about.

Second book (Shadow’s Edge) was also fun. I stayed up til 6AM reading that one as well. Weeks got a bit worse about the random minor characters having conversations that I suppose were important but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand. And I really… REALLY don’t like Vi. Her actions, while … necessary, were also very terrible. You don’t starve and beat an 11yr old and then essentially _rape_ someone, forcing them to drop whatever else they were trying to do with their lives and attend to your every whim even though it was for a good cause (sort of) and expect readers to totally forgive them. Which leads to my complaint about book 3.

Weeks then spent the entire third book (Beyond the Shadows) trying to replace Elene with Vi. Forcibly. I didn’t like that. It ticked me off. Every chapter Vi was in, Weeks bashed me over the head with how terrible Vi’s life had been and how she was an emotional cripple… But I saw what he was trying to do and what Vi did at the end of book 2 just ticked me off so much that I simply Could Not like her. The best he was going to get from me was apathy, which he really didn’t succeed in getting. Then the rest of the characters decided to throw a party and serve Stupid Juice by the keg. Not only were they talking about things that weren’t explained very well, they were… mildly out of character. Really the only one who stayed true was Logan. The abundance of C-countrynames was confusing and half the characters I can’t pronounce their names, and thus couldn’t remember that I had seen them before. At least the introduction of random side characters used only once and for no purpose whatsoever stopped. Except for the Final Boss, which came totally out of nowhere. Well… They fought Khali, but Khali’s real identity wasn’t what was expected and there was nothing leading up to what occured. Weeks also seems to like putting pregnant women in life-threatening situations … and even killing them occasionally.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I like the fact that someone’s willing to be that cruel to their characters and that Murphy’s Law is God of his realm, additionally, the world itself was deep and interesting. But. I just feel that Weeks could have gone through the whole storyline one last time and removed the extras. About 10 characters could have been removed and another already established character used instead.  Book 3, overall, felt like Weeks said “oookay! I’ve got a contract for 3 books, and the deadline’s coming up. I’d better kick something out quick!”

Additonally, Durzo Blint got perilously close to being a Gary Stu. That makes me sad. In my fanfiction, I’ve practiced making people hate characters, and redeeming them in a believable manner, but I just don’t think Weeks carried this one off very well. I just don’t think someone who’s spent most of their life protecting and courting one woman would easily go “oh, well, I’m COMPELLED to love this other chick whom I don’t know and who stole my wedding rings and forced this spell on me to make me love her and now I can’t even kiss my true beloved because it makes me sick, so I guess I’ll forget Elene and go with Vi.” It just doesn’t work like that.

I guess I’ll have to say it again after all this complaining – I DID like the books. They were a fun ride. I liked the main characters intoduced in the first book (Kylar, Durzo, Momma K, Jarl, and Logan, to be specific), but there was a lot of clutter (characters, conversations, relationships, unexplained things).