The following contains spoilers for those who have not read The Black Prism, Lightbringer #1.The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2) by Brent Weeks
Published: 11th September 2012 by Orbit Books
Format: Paperback, 670 pages
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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.
Weeks’ writing has certainly evolved in the time between Way of Shadows and this, his latest masterpiece. The Blinding Knife is an example of epic fantasy at its very best – nuanced, perfectly paced and thematically brilliant. Weeks takes the world he expertly set up in The Black Prism and continues to explore it – building up the geography, history and mythology in wonderful ways.
The book follows our old favourites and while some might anticipate some confusion at the multiple points of view, but I found the writing to be clear and well thought-out. The use of short chapters ensured I was never away from anyone for too long. Kip is put through into training to join the Blackguard – the order of the land’s most talented and deadly warriors charged with protecting the Prism and the White with their lives. Karris and Gavin race around the world, taking care of thousands of refugees, trying to prevent wars and fighting colour wights, while grave secrets lie between them. The enemy point of view is cleverly told through Liv, who has joined the Colour Prince in his war against the Chromatorium and fears for her father’s life. Her side is especially interesting because she has been lied to her whole life and while it’s obvious that her former allies aren’t as pure as they like to believe, it’s also difficult to tell how sincere her new ones are.
About half way through the novel, after I’d been adequately reacquainted with the characters and the world and was beginning to get comfortable, there are a series of bombshells and wholly unexpected events that left me reeling, and reminded me strongly to never underestimate a brilliant author such as Weeks. These events precipitate disasters left, right, and centre, and I realised I wasn’t putting the book down until I turned the last page! Everything is brilliantly paced, wild battles are beautifully choreographed and interleaved between heart-warming moments of honesty and trust between key characters.
The growth of the characters is one of the best aspects of this book – while the previous book focussed heavily on the deep scars and secrets that mark them – legacies of the war Gavin and his brother Dazen waged on one another sixteen years ago to become the Prism – this book goes a long way to heal them. Secrets are revealed, deep hurts are healing and the characters that survive the experience emerge with fresh hope. Kip discovers a sense of self-worth with the Blackguard and finds friends who respect him as he is, Karris works through some of her many and varied hurts and comes out stronger for it, and Gavin embraces some hard truths, shares some of his burdens and regains a modicum of his trust in others.
I loved The Blinding Knife – it’s an amazing sequel that surpassed my expectations and has left me desperate for the next instalment, The Blood Mirror. Brent Weeks is a Master of Fantasy, wholly deserving of the title, and fans of the genre should be desperate to get their hands on his books.