I’d like to take an opportunity to give some respect to a relatively new fantasy author, whom I feel deserves everything he gets from his budding career. His name is Brent Weeks, and I personally consider him a phenomenal writer. He hit the scene a few years ago with a trio of books dubbed “The Night Angel Trilogy,” consisting of Way of the Shadows, Shadow’s Edge, and Beyond the Shadows. The books focused on… well, just read them. Only about 1800 pages total and worth every penny you’ll spend on them. The whole trilogy comes in a nice slipcase now, so you can save some money and get a nice way to display them and keep them together. I didn’t start the first book until all three were already out in paperback, so I was a bit late discovering Weeks, but hey, I know who he is now.
And I’d never go back to not knowing.
It’s not that other fantasy authors aren’t good at what they do, but often I find typical fantasy too formulaic. In mainstream fantasy you’re more or less guaranteed to find dragons, elves, orcs, dwarves, or any number of other overused creatures. Basically, if it’s in a Dungeons and Dragons handbook, you’ve got a good chance of seeing it in a typical fantasy novel.
But Weeks, in a brilliant and often uncommon stroke of genius, decided “Screw tradition, I’m breaking all the rules!” There are no elves, no orcs, no dwarves; in fact, most everything in his books is plausible. Ok, so there was that stuff about incarnate goddesses, and reanimated corpses and such. And yeah, both the Night Angel Trilogy and his new “Lightbringer” series, which kicked off with the almost brand new The Black Prism, both focus heavily on magic. And yeah, a lot of the names of people and places are nearly unpronounceable. But that’s ok. Because Weeks writes with such conviction and detail that if he wrote that tomorrow the whole world will go about their business naked, you’d probably believe him. He does what very few authors can manage successfully, and that is to create an entire world separate from our own, with maps (oh yes, there are maps), governments, customs, races, anything and everything we have on our world, but totally different. And it still seems believable.
Of course, fantasy isn’t a mainstream genre. It’s more of a niche, and though I avidly follow Weeks’ website and will buy all of his books until the unlikely day that I lose interest, I really don’t read much fantasy. I could never get through an entire Tolkien book, and have nowhere near as many fantasy novels as I do horror and science fiction. But I read Weeks. Why? Because from the first page of Way of the Shadows, I was completely hooked. I read the whole trilogy in probably a month and a half, and spent a year waiting for another book. Because whether you like fantasy or poetry, Weeks will blow you away. He is a truly amazing author, and no matter what your preference, his books are more than worth a shot.
Go ahead, pick one up. You won’t regret it.