Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Reviewed - The Way of Shadows

My cousin Nick gave me this book a year ago, maybe longer, but I only recently got around to reading it. I was on a roll after storming through the Hunger Games trilogy, and I had the book handy, so I read it.

It's a story about a young street rat named Azoth who, through a few traumatic experiences, finds himself apprenticed to an assassin. He grows up, learns the trade, and in the end, plays a large part in an attempted coup of his home city. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but suffice it to say, he makes a few friends and a ton of enemies.

The framework of the book is interesting. It skips around at the beginning, touching on a myriad of characters and checking in with several different storylines that are unattached and seem and unrelated, but you can start to see things take shape about halfway through. And at the culminating event of the book, pretty much everyone is there. The different paths draw together nicely, and having them split up is a worthwhile exercise to get to know all the different players.

The one problem I had with the book is that, with the sheer volume of characters, more effort could have been done to flesh them out, to give the reader an easier time keeping track. I constantly found myself having to backtrack to determine which guy had said what line, because they hadn't been distinguished enough in my mind, or the last chapter about them had taken place so long ago that I forgotten. For a couple characters, I think their stories may have been intentionally left vague, and perhaps they'll be resolved in future books (it's a most books seem to be these days). But for others, like some who don't survive the book, it'd be nice to have a little more in the way of individualization.

All together, though, I was happy with the intricacy of the story. The main character is mostly likeable, with a few shortcomings that make him human. There's a lot of death, but enough people are left alive that you have some compelling characters still around going forward. So maybe, just maybe, I'll read the next book.

The Last Word - Not exceptional, but entertaining and encouraging. I'm looking forward to reading the other two books.

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