Articles tagged with: Lightbringer

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

the blinding knifeWhile 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.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

the black prismAfter falling in love with Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy, I was eager to dive into The Black Prism. A world dominated by magic crafted through light spectrums, pistols, musketeers, war, and right at the center of it all a powerful magic user the world reveres called The Prism. And he’s not just any powerful magic user, Gavin Guile is the most powerful man in the world.

The problem with power is that it never lasts. The ruling cycle for a Prism expands seven year periods, and Gavin is currently in the third seven-year period of his cycle. Time is running out, and he has a list of the amazing things he’s going to accomplish during his rule, but when word reaches him that he fathered a bastard during the war he fought against his brother, Dazen, Gavin doesn’t know how to feel about this news.

Sixteen year old Kip is a fat bastard, literally. He’s fat, he’s a bastard, and his addict mother’s more or less spent the duration of his life making sure Kip knows just how worthless and pathetic  and unwanted he is. He’s a burden, good for next to nothing… Even as a self-proclaimed king burns Gavin’s town to the ground, and his mother is dying, she’s sure to tell him how much he’s ruined her life and let her down just before thrusting a priceless treasure into his hand and taking her last breath.

As Kip narrowly escapes the blaze of his burning city, it’s happy circumstance (a little too happy for this reader,) when his estranged father happens along to save the day, whisking him away to Chromeria and claiming him as his nephew in public. It’s here things started to get interesting and we discover Gavin’s entire life is a lie, and the prison he keeps chained beneath Chromeria holds the key to exposing that lie. Meanwhile, a war brews on the horizon, Gavin’s love, Karris, has been taken captive, and the only people it seems he can count on to aid him are the mages who’ve grown too old and wild to control their magic and a host of enemies who once served his brother Dazen during the Brother’s War that secured Gavin’s rule.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book at first. Weeks crafted a unique and intriguing world, chock full of so much terminology and vocabulary they had to include a glossary at the back of the book to make sense of most of it. To a degree it was self-explanatory after a while, but diving straight in without that glossary could seriously deter a less-determined reader. The plot was intriguing, but at times the character development was skewed. There were some seriously well developed characters, and a few who fell a little flat, balancing the story in a way that kept me reading, even at times I didn’t know if I was going to stick it out.

I did struggle with some things, namely the ease with which certain instances transpired without much explanation. For example, Kip’s first meeting with Gavin is completely random. You have this boy standing amid an army about to destroy him because he is the last remaining citizen of the city they just burned to the ground, and in swoops Gavin and Karris (rather literally,) to save the day. The thing that made this sort of ridiculous for me was they had no idea who they were saving, but after a moment of (not-so-careful) consideration, Gavin determines this lone survivor of the still-smoldering city must certainly be the bastard son he only just found out existed a few hours ago. Too random to be believable, and as the story continues to unravel there are moments I kept coming back to that, not only because it felt ridiculous, but because the ease with which everyone just accepted this random boy Gavin said was his ‘nephew’ as they brought him into the city and began testing his ability to wield magic.

Overall, the good outweighed the questionable, and I enjoyed the story. I docked a star for those moments I found hard to believe and gave The Black Prism, the first book in the Lightbringer series, four stars. I will definitely pursue the next book in this series after a little break to read something else.