This is the third book in the trilogy and does not stand well alone. Most of the characters were fully developed in previous books and much of the plot tension comes from events that took place in the previous two books. While it would be an enjoyable read, one wouldn't get the full effect of the story without having read the previous two novels.
The author has created a fantasy world of great complexity and long history in which to set his story. Its expanse is revealed slowly and is an important adjunct to the plot. Waiting for things to be explained is part of the fun that drives this trilogy.
I highly recommend this for fantasy fans.
I loved this series. Seriously, I fell in love with the characters and was sad to see it end. If you have a chance, check out his website. There is a forum there as well, and Mr. Weeks is known to answer many a posts.
This was a good, though not great, book. I enjoyed the first and second in this trilogy more than this book. I once heard that the hardest part of writing a book is finishing it, and that idea is proven here.
THE WAY OF SHADOWS is the concluding volume in Brent Weeks' series, the Night Angel trilogy. It begins right where the last novel, SHADOW'S EDGE left off. The Godking is dead, leaving a power gap in both of the neighboring kingdoms, Cenaria and Khalidor. Logan Gyre by all rights should be king of Cenaria, but a usurper has taken the throne, and Logan's unwilling to submit the country to more senseless bloodshed. In Khalidor, the mad prophet Dorian has seized his father's throne, hoping to lead his homeland to peace and civility. Kylar Stern rushes to reinstate Logan and then prevent Dorian from accidentally unleashing an unspeakable evil that threatens to destroy the world.
One of the best things about this book was that the characters really stuck to what they believed. For example, when Kylar finds out that Logan has allowed the throne to pass to a usurper, he does what he believes will rectify the problem despite Logan's express wish that he let things be. Once Logan becomes king, he has to deal with Kylar's very brutal and very public crime of regicide. Even though he wants to protect Kylar, he has no choice but to publicly execute him. Another interesting character was the lady wetboy, Vi. At the end of SHADOW'S EDGE, she and Kylar have been magically bonded against their will. This bond is incredibly powerful, strong enough to even linger beyond the grave. Kylar is especially resentful of the bond because he's in love with Elene. Vi chooses to allow him to further his relationship with Elene, even though she suffers incredible physical discomfort whenever the couple are together.
The thing I'll remember about BEYOND THE SHADOWS a year from now is the theme of consequences for one's actions. Every major character of the story has to deal with their personal consequences on one level or another. For Kylar and Dorian, it's especially apparent. Kylar finds out that the source of his powers as the Night Angel has a very ugly outcome. Every time he chooses to die and be resurrected, someone he's close to will die in his stead. This news rips him up emotionally because he didnt realize why some of his close friends were dying. Dorian, on the other hand, begins to make small sacrifices once he becomes the new Godking. His intentions are always good -- he wants to be a better ruler than the previous. But he slowly begins compromising what he believes in, and he loses his vision of a better land. In the end of the story, he's become just as much of a monster as the previous Godking.
Weeks does a great job of wrapping up the story that he's presented here in the Night Angel Trilogy, and it's easy to see why this series has received the acclaim that it has. Weeks has been signed to another three book deal from Orbit, and it's going to be exciting to see what he does next.
Please don't read this trilogy -- you'll weep with frustration for what could have been. The series starts well, the author lays a good back story with interesting characters. Book 2 continues the series, stretching the boundaries of believability a bit, but keeps the reader interested. Book 3 blows all of this hard work into excrement.
The author clearly knows where he wants to go to end things, but doesn't know how to get there, so the finale is filled with clumsy writing, a truckload of "oh, isn't that convenient?" plot elements and awkward similes, things like the Hero's blade slicing into an enemy's guts "like a comb slides through a princess' hair." Puh-leeze.
Having built up this alternative, old-fashioned universe, the author ruins our suspension of disbelief with Biblical allusions (i.e. Daniel 5:27) and references to very recent scientific discoveries (i.e. aspen groves as a single organism).
At times, the author is so lost that he doesn't even try to plausibly explain anything: When the Hero tries to rescue a Heroine, he tells us that the unknown spell holding the heroine will "crush her skull". How do we know this will this is true? "[Hero] didn't question how he knew it, but he did." Well, the readers are questioning when you became magically omnipotent ...
Sadly, the best thing to do with this series (which had a lot of potential) is to never start it. Not recommended.