Things that are local always seem better. Local produce from the farmer’s market tastes better than the stuff in the grocery store that was picked a month ago; that one awesome indie local band is totally better than some band that went mainstream; and local authors have more unique takes on basic story lines. Well, ok, that isn’t always true–I still love Green Day even if people say they sold out. But sometimes it is fun to shop local and enjoy all the natural talent and tasty apples that grow in your own back yard. I found a new author, Brent Weeks, in the Local Author section at Powell’s. While I have read better books, it was fun to try a new author while supporting someone local. Are there any authors from your town or state? Share your favorite local authors in the comments!

Night Angel Trilogy #01

In the past I’ve had issues with books that have children as main characters. They are usually written as mini-adults or innocent victims, many times without the emotional depth and development of adult characters. While I understand that children are not as developed as an adult, having poorly written characters is a sure-fire way to guarantee I won’t finish a book. The Way of Shadows has a child for a main character, and I just wanted to give him a hug!

The Way of Shadows is book one in the Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks. The story follows Azoth, a young boy who has grown up in the slums as part of an abusive kid’s street gang. With his best friends Jarl and Doll Girl, Azoth dreams of a time when he can escape the slums and become an apprentice to Durzo Blint, the city’s best wetboy (assassin that uses magic). Yet when the chance to escape finally comes, will he be able to pass Durzo’s test and kill his abuser? And if he can kill, does he have the desire to give up his old life, including his friends, and live in the shadows?

My favorite character was Azoth, although there were many great supporting characters. Momma K, a powerful and intimidating woman who runs the city’s prostitution business, was a surprisingly cuddly mother figure to the orphaned street children. Logan Gyre, who could have been a spoiled noble, was playful and incredibly loyal. Durzo, the mythical wetboy, tried to hide his emotions to save himself from manipulation yet still cares deeply about the people in his life. There were the standard bad guys trying to kill the king and steal the throne, but Azoth was by far the best developed and best written character.

There were many complicated moral dilemmas, and it was refreshing to read a new author who tackled these in unpredictable ways. The reasons to kill a person were talked about in-depth (money, honor, obligation, uselessness of life, blackmail, ect), but Weeks also delved into issues of leadership, friendship, love and marriage, the bonds of family, and religion. At times the action of the book faltered and the story was bogged down with these discussions, but the groundwork has been laid for the next two books in the series to be pretty good.

The only complaint I have with this book is a few stylistic issues, mainly that the basic country and society it takes place in was never well explained. After reading the book I’m still unsure about the organization of the mob-like underground culture, or the secret society within that. The magic system is complicated and never explained because Azoth is unable to use his Talent, yet major fight scenes and political scheming involve the use of magical powers.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable second trial for the Sony Digital Reader. The author has great potential, and the next two books in the series are supposed to be much better. I would not recommend this book for people who are incredibly picky about perfect grammar and writing, but for a fun read about assassins, this book makes for great weekend or vacation reading.