Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

(2009-05-11)

December 2008, Orbit Books
ISBN 9780316033664
720 Pages
http://www.thewayofshadows.com  

In epic fashion, Brent Weeks brings his debut trilogy to a conclusion in Beyond the Shadows. The story here picks up directly after the events of  Shadow’s Edge, and as such, this review will likely contain spoilers.

The revelation at the end of Shadow’s Edge was initially very surprising, but as it settled into how the story played out, it felt logical and perhaps could have been choreographed when put in relation to the story and the genre itself. That said, the effects of that revelation are played out to good effect throughout the majority of Beyond the Shadows. Weeks brought many of the dangling plot-threads together in this volume in a relatively satisfying manner.

With Durzo alive, Kylar soon learns the great cost of his immortality and Weeks revelation of this cost is handled very well. Throughout the previous two novels, Kylar was painted as an impatient young man who had quite a lot to learn. While there is still much for him to know and his attitude still comes across as impatient, he has fully come into his role as the Night Angel, essentially the secret protector of Midcyru.

Meanwhile, Logan is struggling to attain his rightful spot on the throne. The woman on the throne at the outset of the novel, Terah Gerasin, is a conniving, self-centered character. As she comes to play a larger role in the first half of this novel, a bit more depth is added to her character although Weeks really managed to make her a character I enjoyed hating, and this is in large part due to her charisma and charm as well as her aforementioned qualities.

One welcome character made something of a return to prominence, Solon the one-time court advisor. Exiled from that court, he makes a startling return to his homeland and again, Weeks kept tension at a respectable level in the scenes when he reunited with who Solon thought was the love of his life.

Logan is not only beset by internal strife in his quest to regain the throne, but also enemies in Khalidor, a rival nation, in the form Khalidor’s new Godking Dorian. Dorian also has with him a person from Logan’s past, his first love Jenine, whom Logan thought dead just as Jenine thinks Logan dead. Weeks portrayed the evolution of Dorian’s character plausibly from a well meaning young ruler who tries to come out from under his father’s despotic shadow to a man who finds it difficult to escape his past. In many ways, Dorian and Kylar have parallel evolutions in their character as they both try to break free of the invisible chains that hold them to what the world thinks they are.

Weeks also put Vi, the former heartless vixen-like assassin through the ringer. Having been magically bonded to Kylar as his significant other, she must deal with living as something of a subordinate to Kylar’s true love Elene. One of my problems with the earlier volumes in the trilogy was Elene and her lack of character development other than a crutch for Kylar. While she is still a major character in the novel/trilogy, some of the annoying aspects about her took a step back.

The storyline is definitely wrapped up but Weeks has built a foundation for many stories within the pages of these three books. Whether they feature Kylar or some of the descendants of other characters like Logan and Solon, he’s got ample room to return and he will be doing that in the future as he’s signed to write some more books for Orib.

On some levels, the overall trilogy is firmly entrenched in the clichés of the genre – the honorable king, the assassin who wishes to work beyond his limitations, the hellcat/vixen of lust and desire, the hated despot, and the orphan of destiny. At times these clichés mix up with one character fitting multiple roles. However, Weeks talent for pacing and tension elevate the trilogy to a solid debut and worthy of recommendation.

© 2009 Rob H. Bedford

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