Friday, 6 May 2011

Review: Beyond the Shadows, (Night Angel Trilogy 3) by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows is an interesting fantasy book, with some excellent points and a few that could be improved upon. On the whole, I rather liked it.

The author has a number of main characters (Kylar as the central protagonist but with many other significant figures) and flits between them, sometimes persisting for a few chapters, otherwise visiting a central figure for a short time. There’s always a risk of spreading the jam too thin with this approach, but I think Mr. Weeks does a good job balancing multiple points of view with a cohesive plot.

Typically, I prefer characters to stories. When I think of why I like The First Law Trilogy or A Song of Ice and Fire Glokta and Tyrion are my first thoughts. Unusually, the story of the Beyond the Shadows is what I appreciate most about it. I do think the pacing was a bit off, with the middle part slower in comparison to the start and end. However, there are multiple twists and turns, and Mr. Weeks has done an excellent job of describing the hellish nation of Khalidor. Briefly, the story is about numerous nations and their collective desire, embodied by the virtuous Logan, to destroy the infernal power of Khalidor. The style of fate conflicting with personal desire and forcing people into making a loathsome choice is reminiscent of the Aeneid, when Aeneas and Dido are star-crossed lovers.

When it comes to characters, it’s a more mixed picture. Dorian is easily my favourite in Beyond the Shadows, and the tangled situation he finds himself in was always enjoyable to read. Logan I like less, as he’s pretty much a paragon of virtue, and Elene similarly. Most of the others are good, without standing out as excellent.

The plot of the book and series is tightly bound to the history/mythology of the world the author has created and in particular that of Kylar and his master Durzo. There’s a distinct difference between the nations (they aren’t merely lines on a map) and a number of different magic systems.

I think the book could’ve been improved with a shorter, faster middle and a slightly longer end. It all comes together very neatly, but I don’t think that’s a problem given the genre and the way it happens. My to-read list grows endlessly, but I will be looking for more stuff by Brent Weeks to read.

In the near future, I’m thinking of getting the second Space Captain Smith book, by Toby Frost, for my Kindle.


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