About the Book
Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left—now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies.
Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.
I have about a million books I need to review, and now that I’m back from vacation, I finally feel like I have the energy to catch up. However, most recently I’ve been working my way through Brent Weeks epic fantasy Lightbringer series. It’s on my mind, because I just finished book three. I figured I’d start with my catching-up-on-reviews by reviewing The Blinding Knife.
The Blinding Knife is the second book in the Lightbringer series. Let me start by saying that I first read The Black Prism when it came out. I was quite impressed with that book. I was scrolling through the library’s audiobook website a week or so ago, and I ran across that book again. I figured it was time for a re-read (re-listen?). A few things are a bit different my second time through. First, I was less impressed with the book on my re-read than I was the first time. It was quite entertaining, and very well done, but the plot felt fairly 3-stars to me. Also, the audiobook was incredibly well done, but the narrator drove me crazy. He did all the voices really well, except for Gavin’s. Gavin sounded like a high surfer. About halfway into the book I realized I couldn’t take him seriously, so I got the actual book out of the library and read the rest of it.
Now, onto The Blinding Knife.
Events are escalating, and tensions are mounting from all sorts of directions. In just about every respect, The Blinding Knife outshines its predecessor. The Black Prism felt a lot like an introduction, setting up, and teasing readers. The Blinding Knife brings it to another level.
Weeks has a gift with really getting into the heads of his various characters. He keeps his cast pretty tight and small for epic fantasy. Each book seems to add a few new characters, some secondary, one or two primary. The real growth and development doesn’t happen with the addition of characters. It happens with the political situations, and the character development. Specifically in The Blinding Knife, I was amazed by how Weeks almost instantly changed Kip from being a whiney teenager to a really interesting young adult. Yes, there is a difference.
Gavin also changes. He’s less cocky, and Weeks really shows readers who he is as a person, insecurities, imperfections and all. Gavin suddenly becomes human, and Kip suddenly becomes interesting. It’s fantastic. The characters all have their own goals and aims, and in their own ways they are all thrown into situations that are forcing them into uncomfortable territory. Weeks handles it really well, using that discomfort to realistically develop characters that were lacking in bit in the first book.
The political situation is volatile, and spreading. While things stay pretty well mired in a few satraps that readers are familiar with, the stage is set for real and exciting global expansion. Readers get a better view of the opposition, and their thought processes, which helps balance things out a bit. There are hints and developments that point to the fact that this political development is doing to spread far and wide. Coupled with that are the personal complexities that Weeks has peppered his characters with. The politics and the personal really balance each other out well.
This book is long, and while I did feel that some parts might have gone on longer than they really needed to, by and large the plot moves forward at a good clip. There are a lot of surprises, and if the actual plot feels sort of dull in parts, the personal development will keep you from really noticing or caring. Weeks develops his writing style quite a bit here, infusing his book with a lot of subtlety that gives the book a surprising amount of depth. He also somehow manages to keep a series that could be fairly typical into something quite memorable and extraordinary.
The Blinding Knife surprised me. After a fairly typical introduction to the series, Weeks decided to up everything. It’s better, longer (and none of that length is wasted), more interesting, more surprising, more intricate, more subtle, more action-packed and loaded with more culture and more impact. Basically, it’s “more.” This has quickly turned into a series that is impossible to put down.