Recently as part of my binge reading in the past few months I started reading the Night Angel series written by Brent Weeks. The Night Angel trilogy is set in the fictional world of Midcyry and in it we follow the adventures and life of Azoth/Kylar Stern as he struggles to leave behind the difficulties of his life on the streets and become a great wetboy (something akin to an assassin). On his path to greatness he will face harsh training, legends coming to life and a war and struggle for the fate of all the continent in which he will become a key player.
The world of this trilogy is a gritty dark world. The city of the main characters is run both a king and also by a “shadow king” a figure head that dominates all criminal activities with a tight fist. This makes for a fascinating setting in which the story takes place as Kylar struggles to be part of both world. He struggles with the luxurious, advantageous but ultimately deceitful world of nobles and also struggles with the harsh, cruel and brutal world of criminals where he comes from and of which as a wetboy he is an integral part of. This duality, this struggle, is present throughout the whole trilogy as Kylar struggles to leave behind that in which he was raised. Kylar grows in our eyes and we see him fight an inner conflict in his path to realizing who he truly is and what his role in the world is.
In this world there is a magic that some users are able to use, however depending on which side of the world you come from, magic is taught differently. In the case of Kylar and his master Durzo, as wetboys, they use magic to primarily enhance their physical skills as well as for stealth reasons. Other are able to use magic in more traditional fantasy ways, such as fire balls. This combination of different magic skills makes for a very intriguing world where most characters are able to fight in an equal footing and in many interesting ways with high stakes.
Durzo, the master of Kylar, is perhaps the most interesting and refreshing character. A character that seems to be the stereotypical hard-ass, mysterious mentor, as the story develops you learn more about him, his motivation, his past and you understand the character. By the end of the saga Durzo has become your favourite character and every scene with him is handled beautifully.
However whilst the characters and the settings are fascinating without a doubt the best part of this series have to do with some of the themes that this book deals with, especially those of fate, duty and the sacrifices that have to be made in the name of the greater good. The books study this issues in a profound way and allows the reader to reach their own conclusions before we get the resolution and the choices of the characters. Especially in regards to the theme of seeking the greater good the book is able to give us a great study of this theme, with difficult choices, no straight answer and a story that explores new ideas such as having a necessary evil in order to reach an ultimate greater good.
All in all the trilogy is very enjoyable and fun to read. It is a classic fantasy story with some twists on the old tropes that keeps it fresh. The pacing of the story is fast and action-packed, the battle scenes are awe inspiring and it is able to make the reader think carefully about issues in the novels. Brent Weeks hits a homerun in this series and I am looking forward to reading more from him.