A Book, Read – #18/2015 – Weeks, Brent – The Way of Shadows

It is February 14, outside my window I can hear birds and the swaying of tree branches in the gentle wind, and underneath my feet my little dog lies asleep.

I do not worry overly about assassins, and I suppose most people don’t, but it seems that in the world Brent Weeks has created it makes sense to constantly be on your toes.  If it isn’t an assassin it’s the threat of rape, or disfigurement, or betrayal, or theft.

I am aware that there is something called “grimdark”.  I suppose it is a very popular genre.  My main issue with it is that there is never any light, or lightness, or levity, or humour, or goodwill, or really anything positive at all.  About the only broadly good qualities a person could possess are loyalty and lust, but neither of these are always used for good, and very often, in these books, they are used to twist a character from not-so-nice to really-not-so-nice.

I would have less of a problem with all of this if someone was cheerful, just once.  And not bitter cheerful, or I-won-and-screw-you cheerful.  But joyous cheerful.  It never happens, there’s never any subtlety of expression or situation, and thus I can never properly take these worlds seriously.  There is no world, and there never will be a world, where everything is bleak.  the fourteenth century wasn’t like this.  The fifteenth wasn’t.  The sixteenth wasn’t.  The previous century wasn’t and the current century isn’t.  Misery exists, but joy always does, too.  And not just joy but empathy and sympathy, caring, understanding, research, satisfaction, love, education.  In Weeks’ world a group of young boys are raped and mutilated and not only does nobody care, nobody considers it out of the ordinary.  It is part of the business of doing business.  And if there has been, or if there is, situations like this in our world, well – we have good things to counterbalance it.  Weeks doesn’t.

It’s a strange world, the fantasy genre.  The authors can write about literally anything, but invariably what they choose to write about is misery, darkness, violence, patriarchy, and the inherent uselessness of poor/lower class people, and the inherent usefulness of the rich and the powerful.  It’s really strange, and such a shame.

Oh, the book itself was fine. The magic was a bit silly.  Weeks can’t write, but he can move a plot forward.  Never mind.

The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.

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