So, I’m 100 pages into the last book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and I have realised that not only are they brilliant books, but they have probably become my favourite series of books, over Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Sergei Lukyanenko’s The Night Watch quadrilogy. I haven’t read A Song of Fire and Ice yet but I’m expecting great things from it. Whether it can knock King from my top spot, I’m not. Anyhow, I thought it was time to review some of the more notable books/series that I’ve come across and I haven’t touched literature much in this blog yet.
First up, is Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel Trilogy.
When I first picked up the first book of the trilogy, The Way of Shadows, I honestly wasn’t expecting much. At the time, I was looking for a book that would tide me over until what I really wanted was released. It had been reviewed at the local book store and it intrigued me, so I bought a copy.
I was told then that it was a fast read, and that put me off somewhat. While I didn’t want an epic, I didn’t want to finish reading it in a couple of days. I was assured then and there that if I liked the fantasy genre, especially dark, gritty and brutal fantasy, that I wouldn’t be disappointed. I definitely wasn’t.
It’s not a short novel but it gripped me from the very first page. Weeks pulls the reader straight into his world and the graphic details immerse you in that world. The descriptions are so vivid and they’re things the reader can connect to, you could almost convince yourself you were there, watching everything unfold rather than simply reading it. That is a sign of a good writer.
A few days later, I returned to the store and bought the other two books. They are also short reads but thoroughly enjoyable. There was no disappointment other than the story ending. As with any good story, you can never be satisfied and always want more. It’s an open ending, allowing you to make your own mind up about what comes next, where the characters go.
The trilogy covers a lot of growth and emotion. There’s love, betrayal, sin, greed, immortality, magic, demons, morality and ethics. Some are obvious while others require more thought and deeper reading. In a more conventional story, our heroes would be the villains. There is a gradual shift in their attitudes as the world changes and our eyes are opened the wider plan and it is clear this story was not crafted on a whim. Some hard thought has been put into this, and the small threads that connect at various stages are planned. There are clues throughout as to what could or will happen, if you have the eye to see it. So gripped I was on my first reading of it, that I caught none of it.
There is a lot of strong language, so if you are offended easily, these may not be the books for you but it none of it feels out of place. The world we are shown is dark, violent, brutal and not always a pleasant place to be. This is a refreshing change from the more civilised worlds and fantasy stories that have been so popular in the past. Things don’t always work out, there aren’t always happy endings but life goes on. That’s an important aspect of this trilogy.
Everything operates in shades of grey throughout, there is very little presented to us in the white and black, good and bad. The reader has to decide for themselves how good a character really is and there is a lot to consider. Despite the depth and the bulk, nothing is wasted.
These are very enjoyable reads and Weeks has the gritty, dark fantasy story worked out. I can read these books over and over again with no hesitation and I’d advise anyone to give them a shot. It may not be your normal reading, but it will be an experience and an eye-opener. I look forward to reading his following books!