Review: The Blinding Knife

Posted: November 9, 2012 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Brent Weeks, Epic Fantasy

THE BLINDING KNIFE (Amazon) picks up where THE BLACK PRISM (EBR Review) ends, throwing you into the exciting action from page one.

Oh, yeah.

If you haven’t read book one, the opening chapters of BLINDING won’t make any sense to you. Sure Weeks refreshes our memory here and there, but it won’t be enough to get new readers up to speed. So if you haven’t read THE BLACK PRISM, stop here, go read it, then come back, or else what follows will have spoilers.

Gavin Guile is the Prism, the master of light and magic in a world that’s growing unbalanced. After a crushing defeat, he and his followers must escape and find a new place to live to protect them from the Color Prince and his army. Karris has discovered his secret, his own magic is beginning to fail him, and the Chromeria doesn’t believe that war is imminent. Everything seems to be going wrong. Despite all this, Gavin has a few bright hopes left.

Kip, Gavin’s son, has started classes at the Chromeria as well as training with the Backguard. If his professors don’t kill him, then his father’s enemies (including Gavin’s scheming father) might just finish the job. But Kip’s about his father’s work at the Chromeria, with his own dangerous assignment.

Persuaded by the Color Prince’s altruism, Liv has turned against the Prism. She questions the need to kill drafters when they ‘halo’ and wonders if it’s murder and not the mercy everyone claims it is. The Color Prince keeps hinting that he has great plans for her, but she has yet to guess what they are.

Brent Weeks began the Lightbringer series with a fresh new story in THE BLACK PRISM, and surprisingly enough, the second installment, THE BLINDING KNIFE builds then warps and even crushes the plots that went before. Like I mentioned above, BLINDING starts with exciting action that carries over from book one. The middle slows down as Weeks builds up for the Big Event at the end of book two, setting us for what’s going to happen. Then about 2/3 of the way through, the dominoes start to fall and everything explodes. It’s messy. It’s gruesome. It’s awesome.

THE BLINDING KNIFE builds then warps and even crushes the plots from previous installments. If you aren't reading this series, you're missing out.

In THE BLINDING KNIFE we get a couple of new PoVs and main characters. The Color Prince isn’t any less saintly than the Prism himself, but has the drive to change the world for the better, even if it means breaking everything first to do it. Liv still isn’t completely sure about him, but he delivers results in a way that’s more even-handed than the Chromeria. There’s Teia, a young Blackguard in training who can only draft in sub-red and befriends Kip despite himself. Weeks weaves in the new cast, each fascinating and adding depth to the magic and setting: like the beautiful seer, the madwoman artist who draws game cards that mirror truth, Gavin’s domineering father, and while we don’t get much of Karris’ PoV she’s still an important part of this story.

Here, Weeks also spends a lot of time on the setting itself, particularly the magic that influences the world and its people, weaving it more naturally into the story than he did in his first series. Some of it is just plain weird, but I love the originality. He doesn’t make magic only about drafting, and we even learn there’s more to drafting yet to be revealed. More layers and details that only enrich the world and the magic.

Sure Week’s prose has the occasional blips, sometimes making readers stumble at wording, transition, or flow. There are a couple of infodumps. But these issues are so minor as to be petty. Most of the characterization problems from book one, as well as the problems I had visualizing the magic, were fixed here (mostly). I’m still trying to define Week’s style–to myself, anyway. There are those brief moments of goofy camp…but then the very next chapter is darkly disturbing, sometime enough to be nearly barf worthy. His action scenes are still flashy, but by this point I think less about their Jackie-Chan-ishness than I attribute them to being a Brent Weeks book. He has such unabashed joy with showing us the strange and wonderful, and the characters to go along with it, that you can’t help but enjoy the ride.

While his Night Angel Trilogy introduced the world to him, it’s THE BLINDING KNIFE that will give him a name.

  • Recommended Age: 17+ for sexual content and violence
  • Language: Yes
  • Violence: Lots, including deaths with gory detail
  • Sex: Many detailed references (sometimes crass), and a couple of scenes

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