“Life is empty. When we take a life, we aren’t taking anything of value. Wetboys are killers. That’s all we do. That’s all we are. There are no poets in this bitter business.”
So says Durzo Blint, master wetboy in the city of the city of Khalidor.
If death is an art, then Durzo is a true connoisseur of his profession.
This is a man with secrets piled on top of secrets, that are not revealed until the last few pages of the book, where everything comes flooding out. And even then, there are still questions, as not everything was explained clearly.
The first part of the trilogy, “The Way of the Shadows,” introduces us to Khalidor, a mismatched land full of different races, cultures and, most of all, pain. Khalidor is a hard city to live in; filth and despair cover everything in sight. It is a city where a whore will have as much power as a lord of the land, where an assassin is secondary to a wetboy as they can miss. A wetboy never misses. Their targets are always eliminated.
It is a city where in order to survive, risks must be taken. The higher the risk, the bigger the chance there is for survival. And in Khalidor, in the warrens – the slums, survival is the most important thing.
In this place, we are introduced to Azoth, a street-kid who has lived his whole life on the streets with no memory of how he got there. Azoth is a special case, though — he has ambitions. He is tired of sulking around, unable to look his friends in the eye. He is tired of being scared of the shadows that inhabit his life. He is a weak and pathetic creature, yes, but he does not want to stay like that.
He wants to survive. He wants to live.
This is why he approaches Durzo for an apprenticeship. Crazy, yes, but what’s the worst that could happen? At worst, Durzo would kill him and release him from his life. At best, Durzo would take him on.
And he desperately wants Durzo to take him on.
In a world where any move that is made could cost you your life, Azoth must learn to let go of his past and embrace a new name, not to mention a new life. He must take on the role of a Minor noble — Kylar Stern, and forget all the lessons that the streets taught him, as they have no place in the world that he is now a part of.
The book’s author, Brent Weeks has managed to weave together a tapestry that is overflowing with human emotion and feeling. This book presents humanity in its purest form, exposing the mask that we have all put on — that of savagery covered with a thin veneer of refinement.
This is a story of betrayal and redemption, love, life and the sobering realization that no matter how much we love someone and trust them, in the end, they will look out for themselves above all else.
This is a book that is, at its heart of hearts, a homage to the futility and fragility of human relationships and the lengths people will go through to preserve them.
The end of the book will leave you breathless and wanting more of Azoth/Kylar and his master Durzo.
Luckily, there is plenty more to be had.