To me, Brent Weeks is one of the masters of the fantasy genre. His worlds are gritty, dark, morbid and believable. He holds no punches when it comes to violence, sexuality, realism or drama. The second episode of the Night Angel Trilogy was just as awesome the second time around as it was the first - the plot twists, depth of the world and the characters, the neverending drama, the constant action - all added up for a book that was exciting, interesting and fun.
I tend to read criticisms of Night Angel that contain phrases like "pulpy", "amateur", "overdone", "too vulgar", "too sexual", "too violent", "too straightforward". To most of those - I say "and?". Yes, it's a bit on the pulpy side. And sure, it's violent, vulgar, sexual, and a bit overdone. That's part of the charm, part of the draw. One thing it is not, however, is amateur. Brent's writing is superb, engaging and descriptive. His conversations are realistic and free-flowing, his environments are well fleshed out, well described, easy to imagine and immerse yourself within. People make realistic decisions, with generally realistic consequences. While it lacks some of the maturity and depth of his Lightbringer
series, I think that's part of the point - it's fun, it's fast, it's exciting. The lore of the world, the locations, the artifacts, the magic, the wetboy storyline and the magicians and the kings and royal families and houses - all the components necessary for a comprehensive, all-encompassing fantasy world are present. The book does have fantastical elements that are a bit outrageous, such as a giant mind-controlled troll that absorbs bodies as it kills them and gains size and strength as it does so, are obviously a bit outlandish. But it's part of the fun.
Those kind of things are balanced between deep emotional storylines, quests for vengeance, political movements and tyrannical rulers. Defined good and evil that still has shades of gray.
Shadow's Edge, in particular, does seem to have an almost unnecessarily and awkward amount of sexuality. The first part of the novel is chock full of it, constant sexual frustration from Kylar, constant insight into whorehouses, constant talking or thinking about it. It does start to feel like a bit of a fantasy put into writing. That said, it tapers off as the book goes (though there's quite a bit towards the end, especially where Vi is involved), and for Weeks' world, it's just a part of the culture. Kylar is part of a criminal underbelly, associated with whores and killing. It's a gritty medieval setting where sex is a main feature and desire, and is represented as such. It does, as well, have a decent amount of profanity, but that's far from an issue for me. And when dealing with the aforementioned criminal underworld type setting, you're going to get lesser educated types, folks of laxer morals, the type who would cuss a lot. It's realistic. It's life.
I love Brent Weeks, and I love his books. I have no qualms about that. Shadow's Edge held up well in the few years since I first read it, and reliving it all again was awesome. I'm not big on re-reading books, but I couldn't resist a do-over on Night Angel, and I'm really glad I have.