Brent Weeks – Shadow’s Edge

Kylar Stern 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 he could succumb to his flair for destruction, the years of training, to save his friend and his country – and lose all he holds precious.

Shadow’s Edge is the second book in the Night Angel trilogy. Fortunately, it definitely did not suffer ‘middle book syndrome’! It moved the plot forward at speed, resolved some plot lines, while handing us new threads to follow along to the concluding novel of the series, Beyond the Shadows.

For me the absolute star of the book was Vi. Not just because she’s a kickass wetboy, but because I think she’s the character that showed the most growth during the book. Kylar and Logan pretty much know who and what they are. Logan’s character and code of honour is tested by his tribulations, but he sticks to his convictions. Kylar doesn’t want to be who he is; he wants to be the man Elene wishes him to be. He learns more about his abilities and about what the ka’kari has changed him into. They might change and grow during the book, but while significant, they aren’t fundamental changes. Vi does change fundamentally. Her core is changed. By the end of the book she’s no longer the ruthless, heartless, top-of-the-crop wetboy Hu made her, but someone with feelings and longings other than to be the best killer in town, the armour she’s formed around her heart chinked away. I loved her scenes with Sister Ariel and how she realises what Ariel did to her later on in the story. I’m looking forward to seeing where she’ll end up in the next book and whether she’ll succeed in breaking away from her past.

Weeks introduces some new factions in the book and so expands his world. This is both a plus and a minus for me. Seeing more of his world was a pleasure and the description of Caernarvon and its inhabitants definitely whet my appetite for more of that locale, but the factions introduced proved more of a problem. I got confused with all the magic users and the who’s who and uses what. The Sisters, the Brothers, the meisters, the V├╝rdmeisters, the Talented, wytches. And of course all the political/militant groups too. It got a little clearer at the end, but halfway through the book I kept needing to flip back to see where they’d come from again. But the plus outweighs the minus by a lot, since all these people and these threads are brought together in a very satisfactory manner in the last section of the book.

One of the factions I think we’ll see more of in the next book, are the Sisters at the Chantry. They’re a sort of cloistered order of women dedicated to magic, though there are Sisters who marry. The ones that marry almost automatically exclude themselves for advancement through the Order though, since marriage precludes complete loyalty to the Chantry, at least that is what the unmarried Sisters say. This internal conflict has put events in motion that sent Sister Ariel to the outside and which have not been resolved yet. Including Sister Ariel’s taking Uly to the Chantry. I really hope we’ll see Uly and Ariel again, because I’d like to know what happens to Uly.

The best line in the book has to belong to Garoth Ursuul. It had me snorting out loud and I thought it was a brilliant joke (I guess I’m a geek at heart!). Especially, since it sets up the scene that follows it so beautifully. The line? “I’m your father.”

This book was a good read, smooth and fast paced. While there are several threads left untied for the next book, Weeks also shows us what happens to some of the minor supporting characters, such as Tatts, Lilly and Serah and Mags Drake. In the epilogue Weeks drops some bombshells on the reader, which make me glad I’ve got the final book in this series already waiting on my shelves. In fact I’ve already started it, so look for a write up of Beyond the Shadows soon!