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Overview: The Way Of Shadows By Brent Weeks

2590 words - 10 pages

The thirst for power requires a considerable understanding of control, otherwise power would consume an individual and destroy everything in their path. Brent Weeks’s The Way of Shadows criticizes the oppressive nature of a society fueled by power. The story is told through the eyes of a young child named Azoth who grew up in Cenaria city’s Warrens, the poorest portion of land. Years of constant torment from guild masters lead Azoth to look for a way out of his life. The opportunity arises with Durzo Blint, the best assassin in Cenaria. Through harsh training and a new persona, Azoth fights for control of his life through by becoming the magically gifted Kylar Stern. The Way of Shadows couples aspects of an antihero with archetypical symbols of light and darkness to criticize the oppression of society. Brent Weeks expounds upon this theme through the Azoth’s Hero’s Journey, mainly the call to adventure, the road to trials, and the return of the threshold.
Literature expert George Ross Ridge states that the Anti-Hero is the “Antithesis of the romantic hero in every respect.” (Ridge) The protagonist, Azoth, is born into the Warrens a world filled with desperation and poverty. Azoth risks his physical health by climbing underneath a bar to find dropped coins. “Pushing aside mounds of mud, Azoth lay on his stomach. The dank earth soaked his thin, filthy tunic instantly“(Weeks, 2). Actions of desperation represents the large class separation between the rich and poor citizens of Cenaria City. Citizens of such an environment rely on exploitive guilds, exchanging safety for housing. Children are often neglected and left to fend for themselves in the streets, creating a unique perspective on life. “You fat ape!” Azoth staggered to his feet, holding his stomach, “You clumsy guttershite—“(Weeks, 103). Rushing to criticize and blame the individual for action is the mindset of someone born from Cenaria City’s streets. Brent Weeks uses a foil between Azoth and the noble Duke Logan of whom Azoth ran into to illustrate the difference in reactions between the classes.
Ironically, in a world of disorder, comedy still remains a significant characteristic; moments after a considerable battle between Azoth and a noble, Azoth returned to a childish persona. “I glance over my shoulder, and there’s… well, there, three times life size, is marble…genitalia” (Weeks, 138). Gehring states that many anti-hero’s would use comedy to bring a resemblance of order into their dystopia world. Just as Azoth is gradually transforms into the heartless assassin named Kylar, he is a still able to joke with Duke Logan about genitalia. “The comic anti-hero, who tries to create order in a world where order is impossible” (Gehring). Azoth looks beyond his current situation towards a better future. Underneath the outer layer of grime and mud, Azoth had the determination to shift his life. “The truth was, Azoth hated Azoth. Azoth was a coward, passive, weak, afraid, and disloyal” (Weeks,...

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