Friday, June 9, 2017

The Way of Shadows

Brent Weeks' The Way of Shadows is a good palate-cleansing fantasy book: solidly in a fantasy-world-but-pretty-obviously-medieval-Europe-by-culture-and-civilization, chronicling the rise of a no-name peasant who, through hard work and cut scenes, grows up to become a totally rad assassin and an imposter in the upper echelons of landed-gentry society.

It's a good example of the type and a fun read, without being so riveting that it is difficult to put down, or so predictable that it is hard to pick up.

The fourth wall was solidly in place, but at the point where the actually-magic-but-inevitably-overly-oblique Cassandra-like prophet comes along, it very briefly seemed like it might verge into breaking the fourth wall:
"... your purpose in life isn't your happiness. We're part of a much bigger story. Everyone is. If your part is unsung, does that make it worthless?" (p. 181)
The hint of irony is, of course, that if this dialog is in the very novel I am reading, then of course it is not unsung. It's been documented and transmitted to me! The author wasn't interested in this angle, and continued with the assassin thriller plot.

This book would make a good action movie. It's not grimdark, it ranks at approximately LotR on the drama-fantasy scale, with some acrobatic battles and some tense emotional conversations about inheritance/power/leadership. Unfortunately, women get sidelined for most of the book, with one plot-important woman stereotypically described as fierce-and-protective ("he saw her cry for the first time" was used at least twice to indicate that something was extremely emotional).

This post's theme word is vituperative, "uttering or given to censure; containing or characterized by verbal abuse." Her lukewarm review was mildly negative without venturing into vituperative.