The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks is comprised of the following three books:
- The Way of Shadows
- Shadow’s Edge
- Beyond the Shadows
The Night Angel Trilogy follows the life of guild rat Azoth who tries to live a better life by becoming an apprentice of legendary wetboy Durzo Blint. Wetboys are superb assassins, who don’t have targets, but ‘deaders’, because they never mess up. And Durzo is the best of them all. Azoth takes up the name Kylar Stern and tries to leave his old world behind while learning his trade. But he finds himself unable to let go of some of the people he cares about: his friends Jarl and Elene.
When the Kalidorians attempt a take-over, Kylar learns his master’s shocking secret. As he flees the country and tries to leave his wetboy days behind, he realizes that he can’t escape his fate. He is the Night Angel. He has to serve out justice and retribution. Soon, the fate of the world is in his hands.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is probably a very good byline for these novels. A lot of the choices many of the characters make in these books are made because they had good intentions. But unfortunately, most of the time their intentions and the consequences of their decisions aren’t in synch.
Kylar himself makes a lot of mistakes, mainly because he’s new to the world he is now living in, as he is a guild rat no more and no longer lives in the Warrens (some sort of ghetto or slum). He is now in a position of power, a position to kill. And it has been remarked by some that he is actually too soft for that. He is…sometimes. And sometimes he can be as ruthless as he needs to be. After all; he is the avatar of retribution. And retribution comes swiftly.
There’s a lot of politics in these novels – intrigue amongst nobles and royalty – and a lot of betrayals. But rather than making the story uninteresting or too complex to follow, they made it an even more interesting plot. All the characters have their place and their parts to play – especially those ranked higher in status. Kylar’s best friend (from his ‘new’ life) for example is Logan Gyre, son of Duke Gyre who in time becomes the heir to the throne.
I had forgotten how dark this series could be: in the first few chapters of the first book many atrocities are committed against children, by children. Jarl, for instance, is beaten into submission and then raped (repeatedly) to break his spirit. Elene – before known as Doll Girl – has been mutilated horribly and her face is scarred forever. All these things happen early in the books and are a part of Azoth’s life before he becomes Kylar.
The interesting thing about these books is that there seems to be no good guys or bad guys. I mean, there are dark forces (Khali) and evil men( Nephada) , yes, but they aren’t actually that important in the story. It’s more about how people make good or bad choices and do good or evil things. And how one can withstand that. Take Dorian for instance: son of the Godking, whom he hates, who takes the throne to save his life and the life of the woman he loves. He vows never to become an evil man like his father, but circumstances force him to almost turn into him. And when he realizes that, he decides to accept madness instead of becoming another Godking.
Another interesting aspect was the concept of married people wearing earrings instead of rings. And those earrings are actually embedded with magical powers, through which the husband and wife can feel each other and each others’ feelings. It’s especially interesting because Kylar is ‘ringed’ without his consent by another wetboy (well, wetgirl actually) Vi, to remove a compulsion the Godking had placed on her. She had no idea of the effects, but they are prominent throughout the rest of the story. It makes for a very tricky situation as Kylar is now pulled between Elene and Vi: even though he loves Elene, he’s physically attracted to Vi. This provides a lot of tension.
But importantly: this trilogy is about broken people, trying to do the right thing and trying to heal themselves. All in all, it’s an amazing trilogy and I would recommend it to anyone who can stomach profanity, violence and sex.