What to do with the second book of a trilogy? Well, if the trilogy isn’t really going anywhere anyway, and if the characters introduced are all fairly standard and uninteresting, and if the protagonist has zero personality and acts as a surrogate for the writer, then I suppose you could just write Shadow’s Edge and call it a day.
The first book had the protagonist, Azoth, grow from a small, frightened boy living in the bad part of a horrible city, into a cocksure, insecure, uncertain, deadly assassin named Kylar. And then it all fell apart when he received some kind of immortality super-magic.
The second book. Well. It doesn’t do much. A big bad is killed off. Some characters are reunited. Disgusting scenes of debauchery (violence, not sex. There’s never debauched sex unless it is rape) exist purely to amp up the intensity compared with the last book (it’s a very clear case of: if an earlier scene had 10 dead bodies and 50 missing limbs, then 20 dead bodies and 100 missing limbs is twice as awesome!), but what’s worse is that everything is so confusingly described. Characters refer to things that are never really explained. Sometimes these things are historical figures. Sometimes they are cities or nation states. And sometimes they are just things, I suppose magical things.
It’s hard to get your bearings with a book like this. Too often, tenses are wrong, or register, or voice, or perspective. Too often, characters believe that incandescent emotion is equivalent to mature reflection. Too often, problems could be solved by people talking. Too often, the fantastic nature of things are left unexplained and vague. The worst offence is when the protagonist, Kylar, enters a supreme ultimate power state and starts to speak in bad Shakespearian English. He never does it again, and it’s unclear where he could have learned to mis-use doth and thy.
It’s lazy. It’s bad. It trundles along well enough, and I suppose when it’s raining and it’s a lazy Saturday, then it isn’t so bad to read a 600 page book in an afternoon. Fantasy can be anything, and so often it’s this.
I won’t be reading the final book in the trilogy. I am trying to explore what fantasy has to offer in 2015 after being away for two decades, and while Weeks is popular he isn’t good. I enjoyed Anthony Ryan’s novel Blood Song more, but it was flawed as well. So now I am unsure whether I am making the right choice by trying fantasy again.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.