Audiobook Review: The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
This is the story of a young boy who discards his old life to become a not-so heartless assassin (aka wetboy), apprenticed to a heartless master assassin who eventually reveals that he was once like the young boy and more, but then love happened etc, mysterious past, etc., and finally, the inevitable fate of master and apprentice. Surrounding these two are several characters for the young boy to befriend, ensuring that he always fails the assassins’ number one rule of not caring about anyone. And finally, political machinations, a prophecy and foreign invasion to round out the background plot. Oh and some suddenly magic, but more on that later.
I wanted to like this book, based on the praise it has received, but as you may be able to tell by my tone, I was not unimpressed by the predictability and struggled to get through it over all. I listened to this as an audiobook book and although I wasn’t overly impressed with the narrator, I don’t fault him for being unable to make this book better through narration.
I assume I was meant to like the main character, Azoth, but I found his whining and hesitation tedious and I never did appreciate his motivation to apprentice to Master Durzo Blint in the first place. His downtrodden life was basic plotting and the boy lacked conviction. I also failed to understand why the leader of the group he belonged to found Azoth to be so special and talented that he wished to use him as an example of power. Basically, Azoth was set up by others to be more than the author ever let me see of him, before his transformation, or during. And after his transformation into a deadly assassin, he became so cliche, magically able to kill off a whole contingent of skilled soldiers all by himself to sort of save the day. At one point, Azoth “dies” – I’d warn you of spoilers here, but I did say this was a highly predictable book – and I found myself hoping that Weeks would surprise me and get rid of the annoying kid and just let me have more of Durzo. The mater wetboy was a very intriguing character and definitely the highlight of the book, especially when we get to learn little pieces of his past.
Somewhere along the way, magic shows up. A glowing sword choosing a master. Magi. Healers. A fireball or two. Immortality. Special “Talents.” It’s presence was enough for me to raise an eyebrow because the magic seemed to pop up from no where from time to time and serve no real purpose other than being magic, until the end when everyone was flinging it around like confetti.
Save for Master Blint, this book simply didn’t work for me.