While I did enjoy The Black Prism to an extent, I remember feeling as though something was missing from the Lightbringer series, some kind of connection I felt instantly while reading Weeks’ The Night Angel trilogy. I often share the books I read with my best friend, and as I recall she came away feeling the same way, a part of her wishing there’d been something more to that first book to make the time investment feel worthwhile. I took a break from the series, but deep down I had hope for The Blinding Knife.
One of the issues I had with the first book in this series was how much terminology Weeks introduced. When your book’s glossary is larger than many of the chapters in your book, that can be a real issue, but the thing about all that terminology was that it paid off to a certain extent. I didn’t need a glossary to immerse myself in this world again, and the concepts felt immediately familiar from page one. The characters had also started to grow on me a little, so as he reintroduced them in the early chapters of The Blinding Knife, they felt like people I’d met before. By the end of the book, they came to feel like old friends. I guess we could say it was a slow warm up to more comfortable relationships.
I really didn’t care much for Gavin Guile in the first book. He was trite and egotistical, but as the story expanded, so, too, did his character. Unraveling the intricate relationship he had with his brother did wonders for strengthening him as a character I originally felt very little for. Discovering near the end of the first book that Gavin wasn’t even who we thought he was at all was one of the only things at that time that kept me intrigued with him, and Weeks really rewarded that fascination in this second book, fleshing Gavin out in ways I honestly didn’t expect. Gavin knows he’s dying, knows that he’s already long outlived the ruse he’s been performing for years, and it’s only a matter of time before the people around him begin to recognize him for what he truly is: an impostor, a liar, a fake.
Kip Guile was my favorite character from the first book, so I was eager to see him continue to grow and explore his new surroundings. He went from sniveling whiner with no hope for a future worth living for into occasional whiner who all but refuses to just lay down and die, no matter how many times you try to kill him. He is the underdog, the hero you long to see come up because maybe he’s just as insecure and self-deprecating as you are, and if he can rise to the top with the cream, maybe you can too! He endures so much between these first two books, it’s almost impossible to image what he will become before all is said and done. He’s still ‘fat’ and at times that’s all he really thinks about, which makes his internal dialogue sad but genuine. The things he’s been his entire life hold him back now that everything’s changed–even him.
The full introduction of Andross Guile, Gavin’s awful father, makes from some very interesting interactions, pushing Gavin to take matters into his hand he might not have otherwise pursued, while also pressuring Kip to become the man he is obviously meant to be. The sessions during which Kip and his grandfather play Nine Kings are as terrifying as they are exciting because Andross’s entire life has seemingly revolved around mastering Nine Kings.
Kip is also introduced to a number of other students as he trains to become a Blackguard, and as he makes friends the narrative includes an interesting new character, a slave named Teia, whose adventures and peril (if you’ve already read these books, you’ll think that was the worst dad joke ever) coincide with his own. She almost began to outmatch Kip as my favorite character, if that tells you anything.
The concept of magic in this world is unique and intriguing, with each chromatic color only allotted so much power they can expend before they go rogue and become wights. Their belief system is built around this concept, with people offering themselves up at the end of their lives peacefully before they become wights. The opposition they face believes there is nothing wrong with breaking the halo, that becoming a wight is only the first step on the ladder to greater power than any of them could possibly imagine. And that opposition is just as invested in tearing the world apart as Gavin is invested in holding it all together–even if holding it together is a sham, a lie, a smokescreen.
By the time I reached the end of this book, I was more than eager for book three, the review for which will be forthcoming shortly. I gave it four out of five stars and definitely recommend it for readers who love relatable characters and intricate fantasy plots that grow more interesting as they advance. I’d say if you read The Black Prism, but felt lukewarm about it, definitely give The Blinding Knife a chance. It was well worth it.