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Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks

Posted by travizzt on September 11, 2011

Kylar Stern has left the wetboy life behind, in hopes of starting over. But he soon finds that leaving that life is harder than it seems.

Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks

Shadow’s Edge is the second book in The Night Angel Trilogy. The first book is The Way of Shadows and the final book is Beyond the Shadows. After writing this trilogy, he has gone on to start a new series titled Lightbringer, which includes The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife, due out in the Fall of 2012. He as also written a short story that ties into The Night Angel Trilogy titled “Perfect Shadow”, dealing with a main character in the trilogy. Shadow’s Edge is published by Orbit and released November 2008.

Kylar Stern wanted to leave the wetboy, assassin, life behind. He left Cenaria after The Godking successfully took the city by force. He lost almost everything to The Godking, but was able to escape with his love, Elene, and a little girl named Ulyssandra to start a new life. However, it’s harder to turn your back on killing than Kylar thinks, but he is trying. Unfortunately, events cause him to return to Cenaria to rescue his best friend, Logan, and to take down The Godking. But is he good enough to do it?

Criticisms:
1) Chantry. There’s a very forced in sub-plot of an organization called the Chantry in Shadow’s Edge. The Chantry is an organization of female maja (females who are talented) and the whole sub-plot involves the Chantry looking for an answer to an internal issue. It doesn’t feel like it belongs in this story. Thankfully, it really seems downplayed, but when it is first brought up, it’s distracting by how much it feels forced into the story. It’s not a bad sub-plot, but where it is introduced in the story, it’s a severe change in the tone and pacing. It basically grinds Shadow’s Edge to a halt and makes you wonder why this is so important. It doesn’t help that it doesn’t payoff in the end of this story, but at least the whole internal issue is downplayed when this sub-plot comes up.

Praises:
1) Characters. Once again, the characters are the one of the highlights of this story. While all characters in the story are good, there are three that stand out the most. Logan Gyre, Kylar Stern, and Viridiana Sovari really stood out. Out of everyone in the novel, these three are the ones that really left the most impact. With each of these characters, you see them go through a lot and by the end of the novel, they feel more rounded as characters. They are likable. Logan probably goes through some of the most horrifying changes out the three. His trials in the Maw really make him more of a rounded and real character. He has seen so much and uses what he has seen to change himself for the better. Also his mere presence inspires a lot of the characters that surround him, as well as making the reader feel good about themselves. Logan is just a good character who comes out of this story better for it. Kylar has a rough start in Shadow’s Edge. He comes off as a little annoying at times, but you still like him. He feels real because of this. It’s almost like you know him, without actually knowing him. He also goes through a lot in this story and does come out better from these trials. They pale in comparison to what Logan and Vi goes through, but he becomes something more at the end. Speaking of Vi, she almost steals the story. She’s good. She’s interesting, fun, and dangerous. There is just something about her that makes you like her. You’re supposed to like her, but it’s surprisingly how easily you find yourself liking her. She’s an interesting character with an intriguing background and personality that gets more interesting as more is revealed. She really is surprising. All in all, the characters in Shadow’s Edge are good, but Logan, Kylar, and Vi are the ones that really carry this story.
2) Ending. While the characters in Shadow’s Edge are great, the ending is what makes this story really stand out. It’s action-packed, fast paced, exciting, and will leave you pumped up for the next novel. It’s rare that an ending makes you this excited that words are hard to explain how good it is. It’s one of those endings that you should never spoil, for any reason. It’s just that good.
3) Action. There’s a lot of action in this entry of the series and it’s good. It’s fast paced, exciting, and leaves you in awe. It’s just beautiful to read. The action is as intense and as exciting as you can get. It even varies with little fights to wide-scale battles, and they don’t feel alike at all. In most fantasy novels when it comes to having multiple ‘kinds’ of action, they make it all feel the same. Shadow’s Edge does not do this. Each style of fighting is distinctly different and while the small fights really do focus on each fighter, the large-scale battles do focus, mostly, on the entire battle, not little skirmishes that the important characters are in. This gives each fight a distinct difference in tone and makes unique. Also there is a distinct difference in each kind of fight. The small, solo fights really invoke artistry. They are beautiful dances that really do leave you in awe. The large-scale battles are the exact opposite. They aren’t beautiful and they aren’t artistic. They are brutal, dirty, and gritty. It’s interesting that there is such a difference in how they are written. It is something that you don’t expect. The action is unique and leaves you with something deeper than you would expect.

Side Notes:
1) Profanity. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of profanity in this series. To me, the excessive use of profanity comes off as childish and juvenile. Profanity can be used in a ‘good’ way, mostly to enhance a situation’s emotions. The Night Angel Trilogy walks a very thin line with this. There are times when it does come off as juvenile, while at other times, situations are enhanced by it. There were times when I thought that the usage of these words fit perfectly, then there were times when it came off as annoying. Like I said, the series is walking a very thin line with this. It still should be used sparingly.
2) Magic. The magic of this world is better explained in Shadow’s Edge. The first book, The Way of Shadows barely touched on how the magic of this world works. In this one, you definitely get a better feel for it.
3) Cover Art. Once again the cover art is very generic. It’s a slightly better pose, but it’s still very boring. It’s not interesting enough to really catch your eye. Also there is a smokey red color effect that does draw your eye, but there’s nothing else to look at. Like with the first novel, Shadow’s Edge has much better international cover art. The French version is very good. It’s dark and the red highlight helps in drawing your eye to Kylar, who looks very intimidating. The Russian version is decent. It shows Kylar and Vi doing something and makes you wonder what it could be. The version for Spain has a great pose with a lot of personality with it. Once again, the default cover is a real letdown. But if you are in the science fiction/fantasy section of your local bookstore and see such a generic cover in the mass of interesting, colorful, and dark covers, your interests may pique as to way this cover is so bland. So in its own way, these covers do work. But I would like to see it be a little more elaborate.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
Shadow’s Edge is a fantastic sequel. It’s full of great action, awesome characters, and a superb ending. There is a shoe-horned in plot that doesn’t fit dealing with the Chantry. This sub-plot does drag the story on when it appears, but thankfully, it gets downplayed for other important events. But it is still noticeable. Otherwise, Shadow’s Edge works on every other level. The characters are fantastic. They feel like they could be real people. They all have distinctive personalities and really do stand out. The three main characters; Logan, Kylar, and Vi, were fantastic. Logan really goes through a lot and to see him come out of it as a better person. He really raises your spirits. Kylar goes through an interesting change and really does feel like a real person. Vi almost steals the novel. She’s interesting and the more you learn about her, the more you become invested in her. The thing that really sold me on Shadow’s Edge is the intense and exciting climax and ending. To spoil it would do you a disservice. It’s just something that you have to read. Finally the action in this novel was very good. The solo, small fights were fast paced and beautiful, while the large-scale fights really felt gritty and large. It’s rare to have a novel to really make those two kinds of fights feel entirely different. All in all, Shadow’s Edge is a fantastic sequel and is a great book on its own. The more I read of The Night Angel Trilogy, the more I can’t recommend it enough. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite series.

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