Beyond the Shadows by Brent Weeks

Beyond the Shadows by Brent WeeksI have been continually surprised by these books, which I think might have something to do with why they sold so many copies when they were released.

Brent Weeks started out with a book that felt clunky and raw but had enough power behind it that I could see he knew where he was going. He knew how to tell the story but maybe not how to write it. I think I may have even compared him to George Lucas.

That was a grossly unfair comparison. With the third book of this trilogy Brent Weeks pulled off some surprises that more experienced writers wouldn’t want to try. Most impressively to me he took characters from the first two books that I loathed and made me care for them, more than once.

There were several times in this final book where I realized where things were headed and I would say to myself this is where we discover that this story will take six more books to tell. Several times I recognized where things were going and knew that it had to be longer. Brent Weeks pulled through and packed it all into the last half of a fantasy book without making it feel rushed or skipped. He did that by focusing on the characters and what they were going through — their personal lives. During the day they were defying gods and raising armies and learning magic and meddling with ancient powers beyond their control, but all that was just a side note to them. I liked that the hero of the story — Kylar — while he does some very amazing things and becomes insanely powerful, is not the savior of the world (despite some rather poignant Christian imagery). In fact characters that seemed to take a minor roll in the first book became brilliantly essential to the ending in a way that felt right.

Many times countries and worlds are saved by many people working in concert, it’s rare that one person is ever in the position to do all the work. I liked that not all the questions were answered. Not all the people survived or found happiness. Some of the sacrifices were real and painful and so much more powerful than simply giving up a life.

I find it difficult to discuss the book much without spoiling the previous volumes so I will leave it there. Brent Weeks pulled together a surprising number of threads and spliced them into a satisfying conclusion with such power that it felt breathtaking by the end. In the course of just this trilogy he has gone from a writer that I compared to George Lucas to a writer that astonishes with his storytelling. And he did it in only three books.

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