by Garrett Thomas, Founder of The Game Master’s Stash
Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks
Released about 10 years ago Brent Weeks’ first series is just as good today as it was then. The series follows the life of an orphaned urchin child turned mystical assassin. From surviving on the streets to fighting to save his nation. The setting is one of high magic and realistic grit, so yes there are magic swords and mages, but it doesn’t hide the realities or starving children and the horror of living on the streets. The story doesn’t have the same scope of characters or length as things like GoT but for what it set out to do it is very successful. You won’t find races like orcs or elves in these books, but the beauties and depravities of humans are highlighted.
1) Relatable Main Character- Azoth is a street urchin and part of a vicious and brutal gang, but even if you haven’t experienced this first hand you understand his decisions. He becomes a killer to no longer have the fears that he did as a child, yet as he grows he learns that his fears as an adult are just as bone-chilling as the ones he had as a child, even if they’re different.
2) In-Depth Magic System- Although it doesn’t come into play until halfway through the first book the magic system that Weeks created for his world is explained very well but still holds mystery of what its truly capable of. In some ways it’s the perfect mix of a “Hard Magic System” and a “Mysterious Magic System”.
3) Realistic Grit- The world of the Night Angel Trilogy seems real, albeit a world of magic and monsters. It feels this way because the truth of how hard life can be, is evident. The books don’t go into graphic detail like Game of Thrones, but they do talk about some subjects that many authors shy away from. Torture, rape and bloody massacres are all present, but they don’t seem to be just for shock factor. They make sense in the story and add a realism that can be lacking in many high fantasy books.
1) Pacing- The pacing in the books can at times feel off, most notably for me, how fast things happen in the last book in the series. Its never to the point that the books bog down or that they feel like they fly by too fast, but it can be noticeable at times.
2) Foreshadowing- Some of the foreshadowing can be a bit too obvious, but luckily enough there are enough surprises along the way to make up for it. This might be on purpose on Weeks’ part because it seems like when you figure something out a few chapters beforehand that’s when he blindsides you with a surprise. I just with he would have foreshadowed some of the big reveals less.
3) The Names- Some of the names of people and places can be a little hard to get used too. They don’t seem to follow any set pattern or linguistical style. This was addressed within the book itself by claiming the nation had became such a melting pot due to constant conquest but that just seems like a lazy way to explain it.
For anyone who likes high fantasy books but feels like they are mostly geared towards children. The trilogy isn’t extremely long but between the three books and the prequel released later they have enough content to keep an avid reader like myself busy for a couple months. People who appreciate games like Assassins Creed or enjoy characters like Artemis Entreri would probably love these books as well. Overall these books are great for what they are, a story about a reluctant hero set in a gritty high magic world.