The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – Review

I’ve just finished reading this series of books and thought I might write a brief review of it. I’m going to try to review all the books I read and movies I see from now on, with a view to sharing stories with you all.

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks is a set of three (obviously) quite hefty books: The Way Of Shadows, Shadow’s Edge and Beyond The Shadows.

the_way_of_shadows_pb shadows_edge_pb beyond_the_shadows_pb

This is the first fantasy series that I’ve read in a long time and it was something I picked up completely on a whim. I was in a mall with my wife, waiting while she did some shopping. I wandered into a book shop and decided I might get something new to read and was attracted by the ninja-like figure on the front cover. The blurb talked about assassins and a quick thumb through convinced me to give the book a go.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly — and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics — and cultivate a flair for death.

I was a bit put off by the names, but I looked past that and bought the book. Classic bookstore browser activity.

The books are, initially, a classic high fantasy adventure. There’s the world, there’s the map in the front of each book so you can check where places are, there’s the usual intrigue of courtly politics, war, magic and desire. But there’s something different about these books. They’re fantasy for grown ups. There’s swearing, there’s gore, there’s rape and murder. It’s not gratuitous and it’s not always brilliantly written, but it does spin an excellent yarn. It’s quite dark and that appealed to me greatly.

While the story is told largely from the point of view of Azoth, there’s an astonishing array of characters and Weeks has managed to wrangle them all brilliantly. The scope of the plot, the scale of the events, is quite breathtaking and the story remains exciting and interesting throughout the nearly 2,100 pages.

Many of the events in the story that this book tells are brushed over in such a way that they seem almost insignificant. They are, however, absolutely pivotal things. There are three characters in particular that are doing remarkable things, truly heroic quests, but the story is never told in detail. Weeks handles this really well and it adds an incredible depth to the saga as a whole.

There were places where an editor’s knife could have trimmed those twenty one hundred pages down quite significantly and I was surprised at the number of typos and errors in the books. It’s becoming more common these days that mainstream published books are carrying more and more errors to publication – perhaps it’s the result of mass production or staff cuts. But I don’t let that bother me unless it’s really atrocious. A handful of small errors in each book is forgiveable and makes me feel better about the handful of small errors in my books.

Overall this was a gritty, solid story. It was entertaining, it was a page turner and it was filled with some really clever ideas and some extremely talented worldbuilding. I’ll be looking forward to anything else Brent Weeks produces in the future. Check out his website here.

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21 thoughts on “The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks – Review

  1. I saw this book when I was browsing in the mall yesterday, and I really wasn’t sure what to think about it. To me it looked like an assassin’s creed kinda thing which really caught my interest. I don’t read a lot of books, but I do read and write fanfiction so spelling and grammar really don’t bother me since everything I read is written by amateur writers. Anyways nice review, it really influenced my decision in on buying this book. Next time I go to the book store I’ll be sure to pick up a copy.

  2. I am halfway through the trilogy now and I would agree with your analysis in a few subtle ways, although I am mostly in agreement with you. I feel that the world is robust, with enough detail to to flesh it out but without the superfluous page filler that accompanies much of the genre (and some others–cough–Tom Clancy–cough). I enjoy the more adult elements as well: where another series will pull the punches, he attacks some of the fight scenes with R.A. Salvatore like gusto and vivid imagery while keeping the realism and tragedy of battle in focus. I do think that large portions of the book are, in fact, brilliant. The linguistics he uses to convey otherwise mundane elements are intentionally well thought out and immaculately conceived. In short, it seems to be a revival of the western fantasy realm and a seamless read with realistic, multifaceted characters that pop when needed, let you down when you least expect it and rise above the trivial constantly. Can’t wait to wrap up the series over the next few days! If you have time to read posts of tools on the internet like myself, you have the time to read these books and be truly entertained.
    ~P~

  3. I am currently reading “The Way of the Shadows” and I can’t seem to put it down.

    I am trying my hand at fantasy writing and after my other half making me read the Twilight saga I really wanted something gritty and dark to draw me away from lovesick vampires and oversized dogs (please dont get me wrong, the twilight saga was very well written and kept me interested)which had me writing in a way that didnt fit my passions about fantasy realms and charactors.

    This book has dragged me away from that style of writing by the scruff of my neck and I cannot wait to work my way through the following books.

  4. Just finished the trilogy myself, and like you, I picked up the book on a whim. I was impressed myself, on a whole it was a very good story. However in the last book (Beyond the Shadows) I thought that when I hit the 3/4 mark, Mr. Weeks almost stopped trying, right up until the climax of the story.

    All in all a very good read. I will also be looking out for his next works.

  5. @alan. Yes, there is going to be a sequel series! Currently, however, Brent Wekes is in the process of writing a new series/trilogy, “The Black Prism”. He said after he feels he has justified that story line fully, he will be returning to Midcyru(The Night Angel’s, world) to create, most likely, another trilogy based on different characters.

  6. omg finished the series. it was epic, ending was freaking sad though :/, hope he makes the sequel just as epic. also it might just be me, but this book made me laugh, cry, and shout “BOO-YA!” this book is really good and i recomend it highly!

  7. I was actually looking for a different book in my book store (also in a mall) and after i couldn’t find it I spotted a large book with a figure on it that looked like Hawk from Dragon Age 2 (I’m a huge dragon age fan so this really caught my attention) I read the back and it had great praise for the night angel trilogy, so instead of picking up this book from Brent Weeks, i went in search for the first book of the night angel series. I was unable to find it, so i just picked up the whole box set based on nothing but the cover. after i bought it i was a bit skeptical because the names and assassin theme made me think it was some stupid anime type book. after i started reading it i was blown away, this is one of the best books i’ve ever read!!!!

  8. as a high school student i found this book to be perfect for my level. the imagery really got me in to the book. i was sad when it was over. your review captured it perfectly. i noticed a few typos myself but it wasn’t too bad to the point where it ruins the flow of the book. and at some points i wanted to skip the little side stories but i am glad i didn’t. great review! great book

  9. Very nice review, some very constructive critisism. I read the first novel in the ‘Night Angel Trilogy,’ ‘The Way Of The Shadow’s.’ As others say here i couldn’t seem to put the book down i was so connected with Azoth and his life events. The only problem i found was that i found the first book so amazing that the second seemed a dissapointment for me. It seemed to focus more on the political side and the characters i wasn’t as connected too and lost that burning passion the first novel attained, so i never finished it unfortunatly :/ but i still keep the first book as my favourite fantasy novel because of it’s outstanding world design and great story telling.

  10. Nice review! I gotta say, these books instantly became my favorite ever. Dark, gritty, in-depth fantasy. They made me laugh, cry and cheer out loud. Loved that almost every part of the world was covered – religion, various magics, the complicated politics. And of course, I loved the characters to death.

    A fantastic masterpiece in my opinion that started out as a small, assassin-story and turned into a huge, epic tale of love conquers all. My rating is 15 stars out of 5 – my favorite series of all time.

  11. Love the series, only problem is… I started writing my own original fiction trilogy before I heard of this… with a character who dons the persona “The Night Angel”… or hey, creative geniuses think alike? =D Not changing my character’s name, too set in stone and fits too much

  12. I believe that the “Night Angel Trilogy” is a book series that rivals the epicness of the only book series i feel it doesnt surpass, “Lord of the Rings” (duh). I mainly read fantasy books and one thing I’ve noticed is the surpising stereotype of fantasy being knights and dragons and kings and whatnot. Although I admit this series does have those, i feel that it brings something knew to the genre; a sense of realism that i feel was only matched by Tolkien. If Tolkien, the undisputed best fantasy writer ever, were still alive, I believe that he would greatly approve of this book. I really hope that once Peter Jackson is done with “The Hobbit” that he will take a look at this, I honestly think that he is the only director that can put the time and effort and care into making this book series an incredible movie series.

  13. I’m half way through Shadow’s Edge and I’m really enjoying the story as the world really comes alive as you move through it. Couldn’t help but notice the many many influences that he took form Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series regading the Aes Sedai and the White Cloak’s in perticular. All in all a really good read and would recommend it.

  14. I just finished reading the trilogy, and I must say, I’m pretty sad. The story was PHENOMENAL, but I didn’t really want the story to end. It’s the type of story that makes you want more, even if it’s done. I love this trilogy and I’m pretty sure if I ever have a boy, I’m going to name him Kylar. Great review, and I’m glad I had the experience to read this.

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