The Night Angel Trilogy

So I still get that odd thrill when I'm attracted to a book by its cover. You can't tell me that the covers of this book series don't catch your eye! The amazing artwork designed by Peter Cotton and illustrated by Calvin Chu captured my attention immediately and intrigued me enough to want to pick up this series.

The series is called The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. The books in order are The Way of the Shadows, Shadow's Edge, and Beyond the Shadows. I love trilogies because you get a beginning book, a midway book, and a conclusion book. When a trilogy is done well, it is truly a rewarding experience for the reader.

Luckily, these books had already been released when I discovered them, so I was able to read them one after other without pausing. And it was a nice change to not have to worry about when the next book in the series would be out. I could concentrate simply on how much I enjoyed them.

The Night Angel Trilogy is one of the best new fantasies I have read in a long time. Okay, you might point out it was released nearly five years ago, but I think it was a wonderful discovery. In an age when it sometimes feels that authors are a dime a dozen, it's refreshing to find a book that shows my faith in great fantasy writing is not misplaced. Also, that there are great new-to-me authors waiting to be found.


Check after the jump as to why I think you should be reading this series.



 A Brief Rundown of the Series

The story is centred around Cenaria City, which is the capital of Cenaria, a country located within Midcyru. Although the country has a king, it is really controlled by the Sa'kage or Lords of the Shadows. The Sa'kage are active within The Warrens. This is basically where the lowest of the low live in this land. Beggars, thieves, prostitutes, and gangs thrive in this environment, although the stranglehold of the Sa'kage is never far away. This is where the Sa'kage power base resides, but their tendrils creep throughout the kingdom. Enter one orphan called Azoth aka Kylar Stern, through whose eyes we see the majority of the story. It is Azoth we hope is left standing at the end, and it is primarily his story that is revealed to us. There are also side stories, which are just as intriguing as the main event, that run parallel to Azoth's story. 

Azoth is an orphan trying to survive in the Warrens, where he crosses paths with Durzo Blint, Assassin Extraordinaire. Now here is a story with real assassins in it! Not like some other books I've read that merely attempt to show assassins.... Assassins in this world are called wetboys, and it is Kylar's ambition to be one. The very best wetboys have some kind of magical talent to help them in their work. Magic in this world is called Talent, and it is doubtful if Kylar has any. 

Assassins kill for a living, and Blint is very efficient at what he does. He has had plenty of years to perfect his skills. Over time, I kind of warmed to Blint. There was a method to his methods, which Azoth learns in due course, and I don't want to ruin it for you by going into too much detail. Blint is a bit of the father figure in the story, and eventually you sense he isn't really the cold-hearted assassin that he first appears to be. This action is deliberate as the story unfolds.

Suffice to say dark forces are gathering along the border of Cenaria and Kylar has to decide what side, if any, he is going to take. To be of any use in the coming battles, he must undergo a transformation. Which proves to be a struggle for him, since it requires him to evaluate who and what he is going to become. With everything there is a price, and Kylar learns this only after several mistakes and deaths. The future cannot always be undone.

So what kept me riveted as I was reading?

Weeks isn't Afraid to Kill Characters Off

I love an author who isn't afraid to knock a character off. Why? I love the unexpected. I think Weeks took a leaf out of George R.R. Martin's book: Don't be afraid to give readers the unexpected. The reason I love this ploy is that readers just get comfortable thinking they know where the story is going and whoa, the rug is pulled out from under their feet. There were plenty of WTF moments for me. You might have guessed I'm not often all about the happy, happy, joy, joy in a story. Thus, by killing characters, Weeks is able to veer the story off in a direction that readers aren't initially expecting. At the same time, it helps keep their interest, as they want to know who is going to make it to the finish line. I don't know if George R.R. Martin had an influence on Weeks, but it feels that way to me; hence, I think, part of the reason I adored this series.

I Love the Nasty Side of Life

I love when nasty things happen to characters. I know. Does this mean I have a hidden sadistic tendency? That might very well be the case. Why do I like this? I love seeing people being redeemed from deprivation, poverty, and the worst that human life can throw at them. This story isn't pretty, especially in the beginning. And by pretty, I mean life isn't all roses and chocolates. Life is tough. People do bad things to each other, whether it is killing, raping, or maiming. Don't get me started on Doll Girl. I. Could. Not. Believe. It.

I also like a bit of gore. I can't watch anything to do with horror movies, as it makes me need to check under the bed and in the wardrobe before going to bed, but I will happily read about what characters have to do to survive. One such character, Logan Gyre, must retreat into a pretty dark place before he can emerge changed and ready for the next aspect of his life. In Logan, it showed the depths that a person will go to in order to survive. The survival instinct was at the forefront of his story. Even if the things he had to do made my stomach turn, I was still riveted to every page in an effort to find out what would happen next.

I Love Factions

Ultimately, the presence of political factions is one of the story's strengths. Like any great fantasy, there are various factions, all acting as if they know what is best for the realm. Some of them we agree with and some of them we don't. Many of the methods used by some of these factions might be a little, okay a lot, questionable. But they all have a goal in mind. The factions want possession of magical items called the Ka'kari and they want power. The Sa'kage are so pivotal to this story that their influence is mind blowing. But they have control via power, and their power is both a strength and a weakness, since, as in any great novel, there is a mole waiting to take them down.

It Made Me Cry

It made me cry. Beyond the Shadows was just heartbreaking for me. Major character death. I had been through 3 novels with this character, and it seemed like things might work out, but in the grand scheme of things, I can see why it was necessary for them not to. Still, I'm not a crier, and Weeks had me blubbering like a baby. I hope I'm being vague enough. Any book that can make my eyes water is a keeper. It tells me that I have become emotional invested in what is happening to a character. Also, with any trilogy there is always going to be a final confrontation, and once all the chips are played in this story, the characters still standing might surprise you. There is always a price to pay the piper, Kylar Stern.

Summing up

Another strength of this series is that it is very well written. The books didn't struggle with being the length they were. There was no need to add filler. The books were concise in their execution and a real breath of fresh air for this sometimes jaded reader.

So if you are a fantasy lover who enjoys a quality book, full of characters who break your heart but at the same time endear themselves to you, then this is a must read! But... Always keep in the back of your mind that there are three books in total, and everything happens for a reason. And remember to have some tissues handy.


Are you a fan of this series? I'd love to hear what you think of it. And I hope you'll let me know about any great books or series you have discovered this year in the comments below.

* images from www.goodreads.com


Comments

  1. Angela, love your post. I downloaded the first book a few months ago after reading some reviews about it. You just gave me the boost to start reading it, thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad Merit. It really is that good. Well in my opinion. Donna is currently reading them too and enjoying them :-).

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