Fantasy

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Read: Beyond the Shadows

If I did not often buy all books from a series at once (if possible) I may not have bought another Weeks novel. After finishing Beyond the Shadows I am pretty sure I will not read anything by him any more in the future.

In volume three of the Night Angel trilogy the story becomes utterly predictable. And what is worse,Weeks just wants to finish. While the first half of the book is still well paced most of the potential story lines are not fleshed out in detail what, admittedly, would have required another volume, making the series a tetralogy. Weeks rushes through the conclusion of the final battle against the ultimate evil (how original, what video game was he playing?).

The whole book had just one gripping moment. The problem: Just two days after finishing the novel I cannot remember it any more…

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Read: Shadow's Edge

Novel two in Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy continues where novel one stopped. Unfortunately the story’s plot becomes more predictable. After killing off one of the what the reader must have thought to be major characters right at the beginning there are (almost) no real surprises any more.

Weeks sticks to his rather rough writing style and stereotypical female figures. While this matched somehow the content of the first novel, here in the second novel the fit between content and style is considerably less well. The context changed, the protagonists are supposed to have developed past their original selves, and new characters with a different background, much more refined, are introduced. The writing style should have adapted more to these changes. Obvious plot twists do not help either. Thus my first enthusiasm is kind of dampened.

There was one silver lining though. I really liked the king’s speech before the big battle. Here was one move that I did not foresee. And more importantly, the speech felt ‘right’. In contrast to many dialogs the speech seemed real. Finally, here is (the?) one character that is really developed well. His past and his actions match. This helps a lot with his credibility and the credibility of the respective sub-plot. Let’s see what novel three will bring.

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Read: The Way of Shadows

I am still reading the books I bought on my last NYC trip. Is that really a year ago already? Back then, I bought complete trilogies; more like buying by weight than by numbers.

The Way of the Shadows is the first in such a trilogy; and it is also the author’s debut, Brent Weeks first novel. For a debut novel it is quite good.

The trilogy is kind of a male version of Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy. A young boy, an orphan, is apprenticed to a magician, an assassin with magical powers. We learn about the hardships of the apprenticeship, the forming of new skills and everything culminates in a war.

While this more overarching theme is not that original the actual plot details are more promising. Weeks does not spare the unpleasant details. Nothing is sugar coated. The writing style is a little rough, though. You could say that neither content nor form is (very) polished.

I hope the dialogs, the description of the environment, geography, society, and politics, and the general structure (the perspective changes quite often) of the subsequent novels improve a bit (there seem to be some quite interesting ideas hidden). On the other hand, the plot details, the willingness to touch rather sensitive topics, and the willingness to kill off a character are just fine. In particular this last point adds to the suspense. It is not that often that a major (or even a minor) character in a fantasy novel is killed off. Weeks proves that everything may happen and the survival of a character cannot be taken for granted.

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Read: Towers of Midnight

It’s the penultimate Wheel of Time book what makes this book number 13, or the second written by Sanderson after Jordan’s death.

Maybe it is the nearing end or the change in authors, the pace definitely took up. In all the different story lines quite a few things are happening. It’s not just moving around any more. This makes reading this series fun (again).

On the other hand, and here I blame the current substitute author, current stereotypes are unnecessarily bleeding through into this fantasy world. There is no reason for any male protagonist to feel like pink should be the last color for a man to wear. This is something current western (adolescent) culture may contain, and it’s a rather recent thing. It was however not something that was introduced in the earlier books, it was not part of the various Wheel of Time cultures. As small as this little detail is, I found it annoying.

Read: The Ambassador's Mission

There is never too much of a good thing. And so authors tend to write sequels to their successful works. Better yet, they announce multi-volume sequels, series rather. After all, what is an effective means for generating profits in the film industry should also work in print.

Canavan consequently is writing on her second Black Magician trilogy. The first volume is already in paperback: The Ambassador’s Mission. Now, it is some two decades of the war (Don’t mention the war.) the original cast of the Black Magician trilogy has assumed new roles; still you recognize them very well. Unfortunately this may already hint at a weakness this novel has: You have to recognize the characters, you have to know their history, you have to know a lot about the world, the setting this novel uses. Unless you know all this several things will leave you dumbfounded. For instance, though it is made very clear that a Black Magician is something special, you are not really told why and what all this higher magic is. Central as it is for the story, you have to know this in advance.

Luckily, I did read all the sequels. Thus, I was able to enjoy the novel that while being tied in with the earlier story plots of the previous novels brings a new perspective (oh, the perspectives change quite often) and a plot of its own, several of them actually. Hence, I am waiting for volume two… (the hardcover is already out, I am waiting for the paperback.)

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Read: Guards! Guards!

Another lengthy trip means another Terry Pratchett novel to pass the time (at the gate and on the plane) reading. And Pratchett’s comic fantasies are exactly what the doctor recommends… to get into the right, good mood for a vacation.

Guards! Guards! is the first full length feature of the Discworld’s City Watch. It is the first detailed description of the inner workings of Ankh-Morpork and its political arrangement. And, accidentally, it was the first Pratchett novel that I actually bought myself, back then when I still read my books in the German translation.

Already the way the City is run makes the novel well worth reading it. The Patrician is just such a brilliant character.

Incidentally, there is again an annotation available. Some of the finer details may be easily missed otherwise.

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