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Assassins have targets. Wetboys have deaders.[...]Once you've accepted the contract, whatever's left of the target's life is just a formality.
Durzo Blint

The Night Angel Trilogy is a series of fantasy books by Brent Weeks; who is currently writing the Light Bringer Series. It's about a boy (who ends up with the name Kylar, although that's not his only one) from the slums who becomes apprentice to a famed wetboy, and who inherits a magical artifact which gives him all manner of supernatural powers (and makes him effectively immortal). Lots of politics, war, and evil megalomaniacs. Major subjects include Kylar's feelings about his job (is it something that's necessary, or is it an evil that he should walk away from?), his love triangle, and the fact that bad things happen to good people (in these books, quite frequently.)

In many ways the first book reads like "Batman: with fewer scruples and some magic", from there things build to a study of faith, love, the cost of doing the right (and wrong) thing, what to do in an unfair universe, and a look at what immortality can do to a person. Add in a high amount of action, politics, schemes upon schemes upon schemes upon Xanatos Roulettes and Pileups and you have an idea of what the series is like. And add gore. Gore and rape and prostitution and torture and more gore and rape.

The first book in the series is The Way of Shadows, second Shadow's Edge, third Beyond the Shadows. Yeah this series has a thing for shadows. Brent Weeks also released a novella in 2011 in audio or e-book format only called Perfect Shadow, who else is surprised that the title has the word shadow in it?

These books provides examples of the following:

  • Abusive Parents: Technically, Hu Gibbet is Vi's master, not her father, but it has the same effect. She was also raped by at least one of her mother's lovers, and her mother didn't give a shit. Her test to become Hu's apprentice was to kill them.
    • Also, Godking Garoth sure counts.
  • Accidental Pervert: Kylar and Vi's wedding earrings create what are essentially highly realistic wet dreams. None of them amount to anything due to personal baggage, but they often involve one or both being a at least a little bit nude.
  • The Atoner: Count Drake spent his life abolishing slavery in Cenaria, because he used to be the biggest slave trader in the country.
    • Durzo, after the Wolf brings him back for the last time.
  • Back From the Dead: Durzo. After being killed by Kylar, he is granted one final life 'for old time's sake' by the Wolf.
  • Badass Arguably, many characters could qualify.
    • Durzo For being every goddamned hero of legend at some point or another.
    • Kylar He kills thirty highlanders (Effectively a race of big guys), four vurdmeisters (Mages hyped up on crazy amounts of power), and an aethling (A vurdmeister son of the Godking). But, he lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.
    • Logan Gyre, resident Badass Normal nobleman. He leaps into the Hole, effectively hell on earth. And survives.
    • Solon Stormrider. He is commanded to halt a rebellion. So how does he do it? He sets off in a canoe to the next island over. In the middle of winter. By himself. He then puts down the first rebellion single-handedly, takes the captured soldiers home, and wakes up to find people are volunteering to take him on their ship to the next island, still in the middle of the storm-ridden winter. And he has white hair - which, according to his crew, is growing through white because the winter storms found him too tough to chew on and spat him back out. The real reason is more awesome; he uses the most powerful magical artifact on earth, the merest touch of which can kill a lesser mage, and survives.And it kills almost every single munchkin bad guy magician in a mile radius. Oh, and he fights the next guy to a standstill, with a sword on fire!
    • Lantano Garuwashi : Another Badass Normal A exceptional swordsman about on Par with Durzo and without the use of any talent.
    • Dorian: This guy rips out his own prophetic gift, becomes Godking after pretending to be a eunuch, murders many of his brothers, rips out his own vir, wields Iures and Curoch and lives, goes mad, but still manages to implant Kylar and Elene's child into Jenine.
    • Vi She's considered the most Talented woman to come to the Chantry in 100 years. She also opens a dam, with her bare hands and powerful magical ability.
  • Badass Creed: "Life is Empty. Life is Meaningless. When we take a life, we take nothing of value."
  • Balancing Death's Books: Sure comes back to bite Kylar in the ass.
  • Berserk Button: At times, Vi can get extremely sensitive about people touching her hair. At one point she turned two thugs into barely recognizable piles of meaty pulp with her hands, in a blind rage, just because they threatened her hair. She was suitably horrified that she was able to do such a thing afterward. This is in stark contrast to her numbness and apathy to much more intimate forms of contact.
    • Hu Gibbet, at times, when people say that Durzo Blint is the better wetboy.
  • Better as Friends: Dorian and Jenine really do try, but Jenine just wasn't that into it. Especially when she heard that Logan was alive.
  • Betty and Veronica: Kylar's love triangle with Elene and Vi has elements of this - Elene is good and pure, but doesn't accept Kylar's rather violent world, while Vi is hostile, troubled, and initially an antagonist, but comes from the same world as Kylar and therefore understands him. Kylar loves Elene, but finds himself thinking about Vi as well. The situation is resolved at the end of the third book, when Elene has a Heroic Sacrifice after saying that she Wants Her Beloved To Be Happy with Vi after she's gone. It's implied that this is how things do indeed end up.
  • Big Bad: Godking Garoth Ursuul in the first two books; Khali (previously the Bigger Bad) in the third.
  • BFS: It's not mentioned much, as both are shapeshifting magic weapons, but both Curoch and Retribution are called such. Curoch in particular, being impressive to a Khalidorian Highlander who gets his hands on it without knowing what it is.
  • Black and Grey Morality
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Terah Graesin, who is queen for a while, and her brother Luc.
  • Brown Eyes: Essentially, part Doll Girl's namesake (a doll-like face) and most endearing feature. This carries on when she grows into a woman, AKA Elene.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Durzo teaches Kylar a philosophy of detachment, cynicism, callousness, and apathy - "love is weakness", and so forth. As time goes on, however, Kylar becomes increasingly willing to reject this doctrine.
  • Can't Have Sex Ever: Kylar and Elene have this problem after Vi ring rapes Kylar to eliminate Godking Ursuul. At least until Sister Ariel figures out a method.
  • Career Killers: Taken to a new level: Wetboys, as Blint illustrates in the page quote, are contemptuous of mere 'assassins'.

  "You know why assassins have 'targets'? 'Cause assassins sometimes miss."

  • Chekhov's Gun: One of the first things Logan says as Kylar's friend is about how a story about Ka'Karis interested him. Guess what one of the main plot devices is?
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Aleine Gunder IX. Played for laughs. Poor Aleine or Niner as he is not so lovingly called by just about everyone, swears all the time. He can actually be quite creative there's only one problem, the only swear he knows is the word shit. Due to this fact, and his childish nature he is prone to rant for several minutes. This is so much the case that when he starts cursing everyone in earshot just tunes him out. It doesn't help much that he's the king and therefore no one will swear in front of him. Then along comes resident badass Durzo. It wasn't until after Niner saw the looks on his guards faces that he realized he'd been insulted.

 Niner, "You''re shit! You shitting, shitting shit!"

Durzo, "Your Majesty, a man of your stature's cursing vocabulary ought to extend beyond a tedious repetition of the excreta that fills the void between his ears."

  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The One God. The way Elene and Count Drake act suggest that he preaches ideas very, very similar to what we would consider good Christian virtues.
    • There are at least two outright quotations from The Bible. Elene says the God's blessings are 'new every morning' (Lamentations 3:23, best known from the hymn 'The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases') and when Dorian wrestles with his conscience over whether to tell Jenine that Logan lives, the voice of God quotes Jeremiah 29:11 to him ("I know the plans I have for you").
  • Demonic Possession: At the end, Elene accepts this deliberately, and is then able prevent the entity from leaving again for long enough to make a Heroic Sacrifice which kills them both.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Rat. To be fair, he never considered raping boys until he was told to by Neph.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Kylar has to kill the love of his life. Dorian is forced to do a number of terrible things and embrace the perverse vir in order to ultimately, tear it out and lose his sanity.
    • Logan. His childhood love has boinked just about every boy their age, his family is slaughtered, his best friends were a spy for the underworld and one of the boys boinking his childhood love, his mentor was really a spy for a group of mages, he is forced to become prince against his will and enter a loveless marriage, his wife is murdered in front of them DURING their wedding night, and he is forced to leap into what is basically Hell Itself to survive. And that was just the first book... Justified since he ends up having the one truly happy ending (reunited with his wife and best friend, and destined to be a good King)
  • Either/Or Prophecy: A lot of Dorian's prophecies seem to be like this - he sees possibilities rather than facts, and people have to decide how they react.
  • Faking the Dead: At the start of the second book, Kylar takes a job where he does this to aid his client's political ambitions. Unfortunately, his client actually kills him instead of pretending to do so. Kylar comes back from the dead, of course, but the price for it is Jarl's death
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Ceura seems to draw on (but not be identical to) medieval Japan, though with the standard medieval European setting as a base. Likewise with Ymmur and the Mongols, and Khalidor and parts of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Middle East.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: If Logan or Kylar, ever find Trudana Jadwin. They are going to things that would make Hu Gibbet squeamish.
  • Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: Ulyssandra in the second book. D'awwwww.
  • Fiery Redhead: Viridiana.
  • Foe Yay: Rat AKA Roth and Kylar. It's canon that Rat wanted to engage in hatesex with Kylar to show his dominance. Rat also kept hassling Kylar and attempting to get Kylar to become part of his harem. Kylar's first kiss was also with him (albeit all part of a plot to "seduce" Rat and kill him). It's interesting to note that many, many years later, Rat tells Kylar that he never believed Kylar died, and he was constantly thinking of him and how he wished to get revenge on him.
  • A God Am I: Many gods are worshiped, but the only one we actually see tangible proof of is actually an immortal magician who has set herself up as the goddess Khali. And then there's the Godking, who is really seen as a god by some of his subjects.
    • Kylar has a few scattered moments of this after receiving the black ka'kari, allowing him to become completely invisible, effectively immortal through constant resurrection, and granting/boosting his magical powers. Subverted though in that Kylar realises this and wonders why Durzo Blint, the previous owner of the black ka'kari, didn't declare himself a God and use his power to rule. He decides that there must be a reason. It turns out there is one: the black ka'kari itself is sentient enough to decide someone worthy of using it, leaving Durzo Blint when it realizes his morals have fallen too far, and the knowledge of its very existence is a secret even to mythology and so must be kept secret to stop unwanted attention from people seeking the power of a ka'kari.
    • In relation to the immortality: Kylar is careless at first, much to the horror and anger of the Wolf, but constantly reminds himself that such a power must come with a downside even if he cannot see it, and so avoids dying if possible just to be safe. It turns out there is a price: that with every time he resurrects he takes the life of someone he loves in his place (although the effect can be delayed by the Wolf, it cannot be prevented).
  • Good Shepherd: Count Drake, in spite of his dark past. This is later brought up when Kylar informs him that while he can see guilt and sin in people, Count Drake is empty of it, and is told that he is "clean." This makes him quite happy.
  • Handicapped Badass: Brant Agon has to walk with two canes by the end of the series, which leads well to his Badass Boast

 Agon: "You draw that sword and I'm going to feed it to you"

Inspector: "But you're an old cripple!"

Agon: "Which will make it all the more embarrassing when I do"

  • Heel Face Turn: Vi is initially the apprentice of Hu Gibbet, a villain, and does a number of bad things in the first and second books. By the third book, though, she's turned good, although there's still tension for various reasons.
  • Heir Club for Men: The Godking has lots of sons, but they keep killing each other or dying during the tests of worthiness they are given. And those who do survive are potential threats that need to be eliminated.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Beyond the Shadows has Kylar very focused on Vi's fiery hair on several occasions.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Done by Elene at the end.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Momma K, Shinga and Master of Pleasure, along with her bevy of whores, are actually shown as good-hearted people, and are even lauded as heroes by Logan for stirring up rebellion and taking out hundreds of Khalidorian soldiers, who were abusing and killing women daily, in the Nocta Hemata.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Logan does this twice. First by swearing fealty to Terah Graesin. Later by killing Kylar
  • I Have Many Names: Durzo Blint's got a lot of them. because he happens to be almost every hero from the past 700 years
  • I Will Fight No More Forever: Kylar tries to retire with Elene at the start of the second book, but neither the goodies nor the baddies are prepared to leave him alone. Naturally, he ends up getting dragged back into everything.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: "You did say pheasant...right...?"
  • Immortality:
    • Resurrective Immortality: Kylar can be killed, but doesn't stay dead for very long. He's told that there's a price, but it only emerges in the third book what it is: every time he comes back, someone he loves dies in his place. Moreover, he is told which ones, and even more distressingly, which one will be chosen for his most recent revival: Elene, his true love.
    • Immortality Inducer: The Black Ka'kari grants immortality so long as you're bonded to it.
      • Also, Ezra the Mad. Although he implies that he has a limited lifespan, it's also implied that he can increase it by bringing powerful magical objects into Ezra's Wood.
  • In Vino Veritas: Hu Gibbet supposedly confesses genuine affection for Vi with a drunken "bitches ain't shit" combined with something of a Full Name Ultimatum. The actual verity of this is left ambiguous.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Elene. It goes at odd's with Kylar's job as necessary evil incarnate.
  • Insistent Terminology: Although most people would call them assassins, the people who work for the Sa'Kagé in that capacity insist that the local term, "wetboy", be used instead. Unlike regular assassins, wetboys use magic.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Though not as comical as the trope can be, when Logan and Jenine's consummation of their abrupt marriage is interrupted by Khalidorian troops.
  • Invisibility Flicker: A voluntary example; this is Kylar's modus operandi for scaring people as Judgment.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Logan's Dictionary.
  • Julius Beethoven Da Vinci: Durzo. It helps that he's Really Seven Hundred Years Old.
  • Karmic Death: You'll be satisfied to know that Terah and Hu Gibbet get whats coming to them.
  • Knight Templar: The Lae'Knaught order are anti-magic fanatics - possibly not without a certain justification, given what the Godkings did with magic.
  • La Résistance: Women and girls who were forced into prostitution secretly plot to kill and castrate dozens of Khalidorians. Though once word of Jarl's death gets around, many other brothels get in on it, resulting in the slaying of over 600 Khalidorians, topped off with genitals nailed to the doors like trophies.
  • Lost Technology: Ezra the Mad created a lot of magical versions of this (including most of the ka'kari).
    • Feir rediscovers a lost method to reforge broken mistarille swords in order to make a 'fake' Ceur'Caelestos.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Godking does this to Kylar and Vi. The first is just to screw with his mind, while the second might be true - but it doesn't stop her killing him at the end of the second book.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Godking Ursuul.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Subverted with poor Kylar, who despises his virginity on.
  • Master Poisoner: Durzo Blint
  • Master Swordsman: Lantano Garuwashi, who has 'Eighty two kills. At least half of those are in single duels.
    • Durzo Blint and Kylar are also considered masters in their own rights. Kylar still has room to improve.
  • Mercy Kill: And boy, was it mercy.
  • Mind Rape: Pretty much Khali's job.
  • Morality Pet: Ulyssandra has an 'effect' on psychotic Vi.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Logan's initial reaction to hearing that Serah, the woman he was in love with since childhood, had sex with his best friend. Along with pretty much everyone else.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: General Brant Agon, in working for bad king Gunder. Until he kills him, anyway. Long Live the King indeed.
  • Named Weapons: Curoch, the Sword of Power, and Iures, the Staff of Law. The former has (or looks like a sword which has) a prominent place in one particular culture as Ceur'caelestos, the Blade of Heaven, while Iures spends most of the plot disguised as a sword called Retribution. It's implied that they may both have had other names and guises through the ages, too.
  • Near-Death Experience: When Kylar dies, he gets presented with two doorways - one goes to whatever comes after death, while another goes back to the world. If he selects the latter (and he does), he can never change his mind.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Uses 3a types in Durzo Blint and Kylar Stern. When weilding the Black Ka'Kari, they are given an inhuman immunity to all forms of poison and toxin, to include alcohol. Even after four full sacs of wine Kylar wasn't the least bit buzzed, and Durzo would spend ungodly hours at the bar to feel the least bit plastared.
    • When Kylar, as Azoth, "meets" Durzo for the first time, he's scrounging for coins beneath the floor of a bar. An assassin approaches to kill Durzo, saying to just let it happen since he says that Durzo has drunk several pints while he watched from the shadows. Durzo replies that he's had even more before the assassin even showed up! Leads to a Curb Stomp Battle from Blint upon the assassins once the leader decides to bring in his friends.
  • Older Is Better
  • Our Nudity Is Different: Sethi consider showing ankles to be obscene but have no problem showing breasts. In fact, Sethi wedding dresses are almost more like wedding skirts from the description. Sethi who spend too long living away from home often have trouble readjusting their standards of modesty.
  • Power At a Price: Kylar tells himself that there must be a cost for his immortality. The price? someone he loves will die every time he comes back.
  • The Power of Love: Used at the end of the third book by Elene as part of a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Psychic Link: Kylar gets an involuntary psychic link with Vi thanks to some magic designed to permanently join husband and wife. It was originally intended for Kylar and Elene, but Vi applied it to him while he was unconscious - generally considered despicable, although there were life-or-death reasons at the time.
  • Psycho for Hire: Hu Gibbet is considered to be quite psychotic in his violence even by the standards of his fellow hired killers.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old: He doesn't exactly look young, but it turns out that Durzo was practically immortal until the events of the books, and many of the famous heroes of history and legend were actually him. Bonus Points for being actually 700.
  • Religion of Evil / Path of Inspiration: Khali gains her power from suffering. (It could be any strong emotion, but she simply finds that one easiest to generate on a large scale.) The extent to which this is understood and/or cared about is difficult to judge, given that her worshipers have little freedom to do anything else.
  • Retired Badass: Agon.
  • Rich Bitch: Terah Graesin.
  • Rousing Speech: First, Jarl's "I Say Hell No" speech to the women forced into the World's Oldest Profession, then Logan's speech to the utterly distraught Cenarians, in which he puts the women of the Nocta Hemata back in good graces with their loved ones, announces their garters will be made of the enemy's battle flags, stirs up will to fight, and announces he will not marry notorious bitch Terah Graesin
  • Royal Blood: Respect for royal blood is why the Duke Gyre (who'd have made a good king) didn't claim the throne. The lack of royal blood is also why Lantano Garuwashi feels such a need to prove himself despite already being a brilliant warlord and duelist - according to his culture, commoners can never achieve true greatness.
  • Rule of Three: Lessons at The Chantry are taught in threes, supposedly for ease of recall.
  • Self-Made Orphan: One of the first tasks that the Godking gives to his sons is to murder their mother.
  • Sequel Escalation: Lampshaded by Durzo.

 So first you kill a King and now you're going after a Goddess? If you don't figure out a way to kill continents next, you're going to have to retire.

  • Show Some Leg: One of Vi's methods.
  • Smug Snake: Terah Graesin. Speaker Istariel has some of this too.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Durzo, Kylar, and Vi are all deconstructions and/or subversions. Word of God says that one of his goals in writing this story was to deconstruct this trope.
  • The Strategist: Brant Agon becomes one for Logan.
  • Succession Crisis: The question of who gets to be king of Cenaria is important to the plot, and infighting between possible claimants hampers the fight against the invaders.
  • Talking Weapon: The black ka'kiri, although more than just a weapon, fits this. (The two important actual swords don't seem very chatty.)
  • Thieves' Guild: The Sa'Kagé, who supposedly control all crime in their area. In Cenaria, the main setting, the Sa'Kagé is extremely powerful, often more so that the king - they could be considered the city's real rulers. In other places, the local Sa'Kagé may be little more than a few street thugs.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Logan has to decide the fate of Kylar after he kills a really bad person, really bad Noble person, and is caught. He decides to sentence Kylar to death for Law, and send a wetboy to spring him from jail for Good (Kylar stays in jail). Kylar actually understood this trope in advance, and knew what the consequences would be.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Wolf puts Kylar more at ease with killing Khali while possessing Elene by showing him what Cenaria will become because of it, a beautiful, flower-covered city of productive, happy people.
  • Wham! Line: The Way of Shadows has one massive one for Kylar when he confronts Durzo at the end: " Rat didn't mutilate Doll Girl. I did." The trope was actually Invoked by Durzo: he lied so that Kylar would be mad enough to kill him and thereby fully bond the ka'kari.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Dorian is fairly normal until his vir comes into play. Then you may want to find the bunker.
  • Women in Refrigerators: An awful lot of female characters are raped or killed (often grusomely), and then there's the prostitute fixation mentioned above.
    • In one instance where Vi and Kylar infiltrate the Godking's castle, they find one room where the furniture is made from stuffed dead women.
  • X Marks the Hero: Possibly the bane of Elene's existence is her set of scars from Rat beating her, partially consisting of a large X on her cheek, and a smaller x on her bottom lip.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Possibly. When Kylar learns that Elene is going to die (see under Immortality), he tries to say Screw Destiny, but it doesn't work. This might be fate, but some people might argue Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, too.
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