the way of shadowsEvery time I walked through the book store this series called to me. I can’t count the number of times I picked up book one, read the back cover, and thought, “I should read this book.” I finally picked up a copy near the end of January and added it to the growing TBR pile on the shelf beside my bed. As soon as I finished The Wishsong of Shannara, I dove into The Way of Shadows, mostly to dispel the Shannara series from my mind.

This book started with a huge bang. Street kids Azoth, Jarl, and the adorable little Dollgirl they protect spend their days serving the acting ringleader of an underground thieves guild. Gutter rats is what they are, orphans left to fend for themselves, and there is little to no hope they’ll ever be anything more. Jarl, though, he’s been refusing to pay his dues, hiding his earnings away to create a purse large enough for Azoth to escape. He’s the only one of them Jarl believes has what it takes to get out, and with the money he presents to Azoth it’s quite possible he can earn himself an apprenticeship with the city’s most dangerous wetboy–Durzo Blint.

The thing about Durzo is he doesn’t take on apprentices. The most talented (and arrogant) wetboy in the city has no time for such things. When Azoth approaches the wetboy, Durzo refuses to train him, and Jarl pays the price with his body. Raped and tormented by the guild’s acting leader, the longing for vengeance grows inside Azoth. It’s a nightmare watching his best friend suffer such torture, but so long as Dollgirl remains safe nothing short of death itself could prod him to stand up to the bastard abusing his best friend. When Dollgirl’s life is on the line, Azoth refuses to be turned aside another time. He insists Durzo take him on so he can enact vengeance on the bastards who hurt the little girl Azoth held close to his heart.

In order to become Durzo’s apprentice, Azoth must turn his back on his old life. He must destroy himself entirely and swear to never look back, not even at Dollgirl, but first he has to kill his enemy and bring Durzo proof of the deed.

It’s one thing to think about murdering your enemies, to imagine yourself strangling the life out of those who’ve made you miserable for as long as you can remember, but to actually do it takes balls. Balls Azoth isn’t sure he has. But Dollgirl is his everything, and when she is in danger he discovers he’ll do whatever it takes to save her–even kill.

Shedding his old identity, Azoth the street rat becomes Kylar Stern–a minor noble under tutelage of a well-respect family by day and wetboy in training by night. Through his new foster family, Kylar meets Logan Gyre. An unlikely friendship forms between the two boys, the kind of bond powerful enough to surpass even the lies Kylar tells and the games he must play to satisfy his brutal master.

Underneath Kylar’s training, a plot simmers. A dark force is coming for Cenaria, and leading the charge is an unexpected enemy Kylar thought he dealt with in his Azoth days. The darkness behind that force is powerful, seemingly unbeatable, and the closer it gets the more secrets Durzo kept from Kylar begin spilling into the air between them, shattering the tenuous bond they built as master and apprentice and bringing them face to face in a final showdown that will change Kylar’s life forever.

This book… It was my first Brent Weeks‘ book, so I had no idea what to expect. It had mostly positive reviews, so I was hopeful, and I will tell you flat out I was not the least bit disappointed. Weeks does things with words and characters and plot that left me breathless and so eager to continue the story I actually ran out and bought the second and third book in the trilogy so I wouldn’t have to stop reading and wait. There’s just enough fantasy blended with intrigue and magic in this series that it’s the perfect balance blended with an intriguing plot powerful enough to break the heart.

Five out of five stars without question. I will be posting my review for the second book in the series, Shadow’s Edge, very soon, so stay tuned.

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