If I don’t like the first book (or the first few books) of a series, I typically won’t continue reading. I rarely leave a book unfinished, but completing a bad series pushes it too far. Despite my concerns over The Way Of Shadows, however, I pushed myself to finish the second book of the series. Sometimes a lovable character really does outweigh all the annoying things about a book.

 

Night Angel Trilogy #02

 

Shadow’s Edge is the second book in Brent Week’s Night Angel Trilogy. These books follow the life of Azoth/Kylar, an orphaned gang child who leaves his old life of poverty and danger for the intoxicating money and power of life as a wetboy (magical assassin). The first book saw Azoth make that transition from starving child to the educated Kylar, apprentice to the city’s best wetboy. At the end of the book the city is invaded and the government overthrown, leaving Kylar torn between the girl he loves and his career.

The second book picks up a few months after the invasion. The city is not willingly bending to the Godking and his rule, and Kylar has been enlisted to kill him and save the city. But Elene, his true love, and Uly, and orphan they adopted, have asked him to give up his live as a wetboy and start a family with them in a new city. His friends and colleagues cannot understand why he would stop working, and Elene cannot stand the man she loves being a sinner. Torn between the two worlds, Kylar tries to keep both parts of his life and as a result looses everything he loves.

The storyline of this book moved much quicker than the first one, a welcome change. It was also much more complex, and gave the needed background information about the magic system and social order that was missing before. It also switched narrators often, but in a good way; one character would be doing something really important based on information they had, then run into another main character and learn everything had changed, leaving the characters and the readers going “What? No! When?!” and turning it into a pretty riveting read.

The book also dealt with the strong emotions Kylar has to sort through as he decides what to do with his life. The answer of what’s more important, love for another person or passion for your work, is never answered (I hope that means the last book will focus on the Kylar/Elene/Uly storyline, as many things change at the end of the book) but Weeks raises interesting questions about what happens when a person chooses to cut out part of their past. The question of humanity is also a major theme of the book, as one character is trapped in the lowest part of the dungeon and must become a cannibal or starve to death. Does this make him a bad person, or does his will to live and save those around him outweigh his horrible meals? Can the worst criminals redeem themselves and do good, or will they always have a selfish motive? So many new conflicts that should be resolved in the last book!

Overall, Shadow’s Edge was a vast improvement from The Way of Shadows. There is still clunky and awkward writing, and some of the dialogue could be better, but the evolution of Kylar and the involved storyline was able to carry those flaws. I recommend this book much more than the first one, and I’m excited to read the last Night Angel book.

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