There seems to be a rule with these things: for every series that dramatically and surprisingly improves, there's one whose finale is just not up to its previous standard. Unfortunately, while Stonewielder remained firmly in the former category, Beyond the Shadows definitely falls into the latter. While the first two books are capably written, fast paced, and ridden with dilemmas for the protagonist, Kylar, an assassin who has become the mystical and immortal 'Night Angel', Beyond the Shadows suffers from the lack of an antagonist. The charismatic Godking Garoth Ursuul, the antagonist of the previous books, simply can't be replaced so easily by a few scattered enemies: the undead krul, the magicians trying to raise them, and the rather anticlimactic goddess Khali.
The books follows the turmoil caused by the Godking's death: in Cenaria, Kylar attempts to win his friend, Logan, back his throne from the current Queen, Terah Graesin. In Khalidor, Dorian, for some reason which remains a little obscure throughout the book, is masquerading as a eunuch in the former Godking's harem, attempting to steal a bride. It rapidly escalates, and there are some good, fast paced moments with the political intrigue at the novel's start. However, what really disappoints is that some of the novel's most exciting moments are simply described after their occurrence, and the reader is expected to accept this several times. In the space of three pages, an entire season of internecine warfare and -extreme- character development is summed up and passed over! I don't mind summary, but even to me, this seems a little extreme.
However, I must applaud Beyond the Shadows in one key respect: it really does introduce a high cost for its immortality and magic - something that's sometimes missing. I won't spoil it, but it is a high cost, and one that really does influence the narrative and reader. All in all, the series does retain some of its previous volumes' fast pacing, but suffers from the Godking's absence, as well as Weeks' adoption of simple summary for some of the story's most dramatic moments.
So long, and thanks for all the books
3 years ago