Saturday, December 13, 2014

"The Blinding Knife" by Brent Weeks – The Abyss of Chaos

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks - book cover
The second book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, The Blinding Knife, picks up exactly where the last book left off, and needless to say, if you haven't read the first part yet, The Black Prism, then you should do so before potentially tackling this book for this is one of those series that needs to be read in the proper order to be enjoyed and understood.

In any case, we are now finding ourselves face-to-face with a situation well-documented in literature: on the brink of total global chaos. Gavin Guile has less than a year left to live, less than a year to navigate the intricate domain of his world's politics, making the necessary moves to keep the balance where it is meant to be, though of course, the rebirth of the Old Gods as well as their massive army of color wights aren't about to let him have his way. As a matter of fact, with light magic running amok and actually threatening to destroy all seven Satrapies, Guile is running out of options, or more precisely, being faced with unstoppable and clearly-overwhelming forces, he has run out of all but one option: that of calling upon his brother for help, the man whose life and freedom were stolen more than sixteen years ago. (You can read the first chapter here)

So what exactly does this addition to the series have in store for us? To begin with, you can expect to find here all the qualities which made The Black Prism such an appealing read. The characters are all fantastically described and are very real in the decisions they take and the results their actions yield. As a matter of fact, it sometimes feels as if Weeks is pulling away from stereotypes on purpose, making the kinds of heroes who are used to unhinged successes go through more failures than the reader would expect.

While in the first book the characters were established and given various problems and challenges to contend with, in this book it is about how they come to solve them, to surpass themselves and develop in one way or another. Whether or not there is any kind of action going on and regardless if you choose to take sides in the book's conflict, you are going to feel something for the actors of the story; each one of them can make a good case as to what drives them, ultimately leading to the question as to what it means to be truly evil and where the responsibility for our actions begins.

Being the second book in the series it largely benefits from the fact that the world no longer needs to be established. Considering that this is a very complex one with a lot of history to it and intricate systems to explain, there is still some of that to be found in here, but at a much lesser frequency than in the previous work. With less explanations to give, Weeks was able to focus more on advancing the plot forward and molding his characters, which resulted in a much more fast-paced ride, one that feels like an entire journey in itself, especially the closer one gets to the end as the pace seems to accelerate, almost to a breakneck speed at some point. In the end though, I believe Weeks hasn't overloaded our poor brains with too much information, but given just enough to keep us at bay with all questions and curiosities about the world and the story.

In the end, The Blinding Knife is certainly a magnificent sequel to what was a very promising opening to a serie, and those who had any kind of pleasure from The Black Prism most certainly ought to give this story a shot; it definitely is one of the better science-fiction worlds where magic, politics, spirituality and important personal decisions are combined to make for a masterpiece.

Brent Weeks (March 7, 1977)

Personal site

Brent Weeks is an American writer of fantasy novels who managed to squeeze into The New York Times Best Seller List with his novel The Blinding Knife in 2012. So far he has authored two book series, Night Angel and Lightbringer, as well as a short fiction story titled "Perfect Shadow".

More of the Brent Weeks' book reviews:
The Black Prism
The Broken Eye
The Blood Mirror

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