The Blinding Knife

The Blinding Knife

By: Brent Weeks

I’ve been waiting to read this book for some time.  I bought it right away when it came out, but it seemed to always slip behind some review copy or another.  I finally found a gap in the list, and threw it in.  And then I devoured it.  Seriously.

The Blinding Knife is the second book in the Lightbringer trilogy.  It’s set in an incredibly thought out and well crafted world where the magic is turning light into a physical manifestation called Luxin.  The first book, The Black Prism was primarily about Gavin Guile, the Prism (can draft all colors and is the head of the government).  The second book, at first seems to be mostly about Gavin, but ends up, in my opinion, being far more about the supporting characters than it is about Gavin.  Although, Gavin still plays a very large part, of course.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t read The Black Prism for a while, or maybe it’s just true, but The Blinding Knife is much better.  It’s better written, the plot lines are more intricate and finely woven, and the world seems so much deeper.  I found it interesting that the first book spend so much time building the world, and the character of Gavin, while this book seems, in many places, to start unfolding all of it while simultaneously bringing it down around Gavin’s ears.

On the whole, The Blinding Knife is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  Brent Weeks is a fantasy novelist on part with the likes of Pat Rothfuss, and I’m having a hard time deciding, after the first two books, which of their series’ are the better.  (Kvothe fans will likely skewer me for that last sentence.)  Both series’ are bound to be considered epic classics, and should be on the lists of anyone who considers themselves a fan of fantasy literature.

The Black Prism

The Black Prism (Lightbringer book 1)

By Brent Weeks

As with other reviews where I’ve been supplied a review copy, let me begin this one with the disclaimer.  I received a copy of this book to read and review.  I didn’t pay a dime for it, although it was on my to buy list and I would have if they hadn’t sent it to me.  In any case, they sent me a copy.  I’ve tried my very best to keep that fact from tainting my review in any way.

You can read my reviews of Weeks’ other books here.

I had truly high hopes for this book, and it didn’t disappoint.  The magic system that has been built into this story is incredible.  Truly unlike anything I’ve read before.  The descriptions of it and the mechanics of it lend it credibility and make the story believable.  There is minimal world building, but not that doesn’t detract from the book, as it is easily replaced by the deep characters that have been seeded throughout.

The plot follows a man named Gavin who is the “Prism”.  Think of him as the Pope of the magic religion here.  He’s just found out that he has a bastard son, when he ends up rescuing him from a power hungry, self proclaimed King of what was once part of the greater kingdom.  We wind deeper into the world as we meet more and more characters from Gavins present and past.

Throughout, the writing is easy and flowing.  I never found a spot where I had to make my mind slow and digest the words.  Further, it isn’t pretentious.  Weeks writes the characters as if they were real people.  Giving us an insight into their minds using language that we can both relate to and that comes through as real.

The book is very clearly meant to be  the first in a series as there is plenty of story that is felt, but that is left untold.  However, it could stand alone.  As a stand alone, the ending would leave me wanting as there are a few loose ends that are obviously going to be picked back up in the next book.  But, the major sub-plots are all finished by the last page which gives it a good ending while still leaving a bit of a cliffhanger (What’s going to happen!!!) to whet our appetites for the next book.

There are a couple of things that were extraordinarily good devices.  I’m going to attempt to give you a feel for them without being spoilery, so if you come away thinking “what was he just saying”, that’s why.  There is a plot device that is employed in the beginning of the book.  As far as plot devices go, this is probably the most important one of the book.  And somewhere around page 200, Weeks drops it on its head and punts it.  In a good way.  An incredible way, actually.  Another device that stood out to me, is the reality of the characters.  Few of them truly fit into any established “mold” for characters.  Each has his or her own quirks that make them unique to the story.  Also, unlike many books of this size (600 pages plus), it is very difficult to foresee the outcome of things.

A couple of things that kept me from giving the book as high of marks as it maybe deserves.  It was quite obviously put on the fast track to publishing.  There are several places where the editor or proofreader overlooked obvious grammatical errors.  And several places where there were extra words that just didn’t belong.  I also became slightly confused once or twice when that main plot device that gets twisted around is referred to in both the way it was and the way it is in the same paragraph or section.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s meant to be that way, but without the rest of the series to prove that, it merely just confused me.

Overall, the book is very much a must read.  There’s a reason that it’s a NY Times bestseller.  If you’ve read any of the night angel trilogy, by Weeks, you’ll want to read Black Prism.  It’s much better.  Which is saying something because the Night Angel books are pretty good too.

Shadow’s Edge

Shadow’s Edge (Night Angel Trilogy Book 2)

By: Brent Weeks

Shadow’s Edge is a the second novel in the Night Angel Trilogy.  According to the Amazon listings for the first book, this book is about 30 pages shorter.  For me, it read as a much longer book.  There were several threads that the reader is asked to jump around to and it sometimes left the overall plot/arc a bit muddled.  The first book could have been left as a standalone if necessary.  It would have had a pretty dismal ending, but most of the plot lines were finished.  This second book would need a little help to do so.  It depends heavily on the first novel (which is fine in a series) for much of the background.  Because of that, I think it would be a bit hard for anyone to pick up and read as a stand alone novel and still “get” most of the plots.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing considering that it’s the second book in a trilogy.

Once again, Weeks’ writing is very good.  There were a couple of places where it felt somewhat awkward, but they were few and easily overlooked.  The characters are believable and their interactions feel right.  The world that Weeks has created in these books is expansive. Truly, there is so much more of it to explore, it wouldn’t surprise (or disappoint)  me if he heads back there for more novels.  Throughout, he’s given us great details about the different cultures and peoples of the land without overburdening us with so much detail that isn’t important.  It makes it easier to read, and much easier to get into.

As I said, the book read longer than the first.  Perhaps that is because there was less character building and more plot building?  I’m not sure why.  I will certainly find the third book and read it to finish the trilogy and to delve into the world that Weeks has created for us.