Since the book that I am “reviewing” here is only available in English (as opposed to German, I don’t know about the other languages), I’ll write my text in English as well. No use recommending a book you can’t read (yet) anyways, is there?
As you might have guessed, the Night Angel Trilogy features the “Night Angel” as its star. Who and what this ominous creature might or might not be is for you to guess, as it isn’t revealed until the later parts of the books. The short description on the back says “For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist […]”, which is certainly true, since murder is first and foremost a necessity for the protagonists – well, at least for Azoth -, but being necessary doesn’t mean that you should approach it without a love for detail, thus Blint and Azoth both make sure that everything is perfect. And it’s not just the “one man, one target”-kind of murder we’re talking about here, no. Weeks has arranged for his readers to get to know (somewhat intimately) about every kind of murder and death there is.
One of them is the skilled use of poison that Blint is capable of. Knowing more about poisons and its agents than probably any other man alive (in the story, at least), he can kill his “deader” (because only assassins have “targets”, as they sometimes miss) in any way you might (or more probably might not) think of. Those range from the “obviously suicide” kind of murder to the “definitely murder”-case, as the prices range from “you gotta be kiddin‘ me”-money to “let me check my pockets”-prices.
Another kind of murder is the kind involving knives, swords or other weapons with sharp edges, bloodshed definitely included. From the less “artistic” kinds of murder (throat-slashing) to the inventive kind (“stabbed himself in the back three times and bled out”) – nothing is impossible for Blint – this “artist” is to die for!
But to get to the point: The story tells the reader of the life of orphan Azoth who lives in the slums with his two friends, Doll Girl and Jarl. The three of them are members of a street gang, like most of the children there who enjoy surviving. Poor and abused, he’s searching for a way out, especially since the gang leader, Rat, threatens to take everything Azoth has. Enter Durzo Blint. When meeting Blint on the street, Azoth is awed by the power and confidence this man radiates, which is why he wants to become like him. Azoth wants to be Blint’s apprentice – and badly.
Now before I spoil the fun and retell the gist or the most important parts of the story, let me just say that the three books are a real good read, not deserving to be spoiled, which is why I’ll reveal no more of the storyline here.
What surprised me actually, is how fast a pace Weeks sets right from the start. Since all three books are around 700 pages in size, I’d have expected somewhat of a lengthy introduction. But I was wrong. A good kind of wrong, to be honest, since after reading the first 15 pages of the first book, I suddenly discovered – with shock as much as delight – that I was unable to put the book down again. So what was intended to be a productive afternoon full of research turned into a cozy afternoon with a great book, only interrupted to get up and order the next two books shipped immediately as to avoid running into a reading gap. So when I was through the first book (which took me about a day), I instantly picked the second one up and continued.
The three books cannot and should not be read separately, which is kind of a redundant thing to say as it is a trilogy – and anyways, you wouldn’t want to stop reading after you finished the first book. It’s not only a tale of a master and his apprentice (with the usual ramifications), but also one of political and social intrigue, warfare, love long lost, love regained and love murdered (lots of bloodshed). If you enjoy fantasy, this one truly is for you. Even if you dislike fantasy as a genre for the dragons and magicians and all that habitually appearing here, you might want to get over that and give it a try. I promise there won’t be any dragons. If you’re looking for a knight saving the princess, you might have to adjust your conceptions of those a little, though.
When all is said and done, these three books are an excellent read, beautifully composed with sophisticated language, gory descriptions of all kinds of murder, demon-like creatures and some broken hearts littering the path to wherever it is the story is taking you.
If you’re speaking English as a second language I’d suggest you have upper-intermediate skills if not near native, since the book’s language isn’t really for beginners. If you’re familiar with the Harry Potter novels, Weeks sure is above the language you find in the final part of the Potter series, level-wise.