Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

This is the second book in the Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks. I read the first book, The Black Prism, a long time ago at the recommendation of a friend. It was very good and I made a mental note to keep track of the series. I then lost that note. The fourth (of five) book in the series was just published about a month ago and I realized I had fallen well behind. So, without further ado here is me continuing to read the Lightbringer series.

Read on for my review, but be aware that The Blinding Knife is the second book in the series.

Overall Impression
This was quite an enjoyable read and makes me want to continue reading the series. The plot is fast paced and the characters and setting are pretty interesting. I did have some trouble remembering the characters since it has been so long since I read the first book, but in the end it was OK. The book is an interesting take on the fantasy genre because it's not strictly European-medieval: characters use guns and cannons, there's pirates in the seas, and the various countries under the control of the Chromeria are referred to as "satrapies", which invokes a more exotic feel.

We continue almost exactly where we left of from The Black Prism, with the main two plots following Gavin and his bastard Kip. Gavin Guile continues pursuing his various goals, which now includes dealing with color wights, political maneuvering, and the invasion of the Color Prince. Kip goes to train to become a Blackguard, the guardians of the Prism. It feels like the book heavily borrows from the whole magic-school trope that's so common these days. It's not a bad thing, though, as Kip's successes and failures in the school are very enlightening and fun to read. Overall, the plot is fairly fast paced and I frequently found myself reading 2-3 chapters when I had planned to read only one.

A lot of the characters are the same from The Black Prism, which a few new additions. Gavin Guile is the Prism and it feels (and acts) like the world rests on his shoulders. Kip is a fat young boy struggling with who he is; intelligent, but sarcastic and willing to be as ruthless as necessary to get what he needs. Karrin feels very secondary in this book, as does Liv, whereas Andross, Gavin's father, has a more central role this time around.

Setting / World Building
The setting for this is the same as the prior book, but because I read that before I started my blog I don't have a write up about it. The main aspect of the world is that some people are born with the ability to manipulate light. These drafters, as they are called, can take light of a certain color and produce a physical representation of it, called luxin. Different colors of light have different effects, so sometimes you'll want to use blue luxin as opposed to red luxin. Some drafters can only draft one color, others two, three, four, and a rare few can draft all the seven (official) colors from sub-red to superviolet.

There are limits to drafting, though. To be able to draft a specific color you have to be able to see it so white light is useless, unless you happen to be the Prism. The Prism is a single person that has the ability to split light and draft all the colors and in this world acts as the head of the Chromeria, the organization that rules the lands. Another notable limit to drafting is that after much use, the halos of your eyes fill up with the color you draft and subsequent drafting would turn you into a wight- a monster dominated by the specific attributes of the color you draft. The Prism is the only one that doesn't appear to have this limitation, except that they loose their colors and die in a multiple of 7 years.

This was all introduced in The Black Prism, but in The Blinding Knife we hear of other abilities related to light, such as Seers and lightsplitters. The world is suddenly a much larger place and we start to see the Color Prince's invasion of the Chromeria. We also learn of colors beyond the accepted spectrum, that is, beyond sub-red, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and superviolet, and, as an astronomer who knows well the electromagnetic spectrum, I'm curious to see how these will be developed.

Final Thoughts
This was a fun and enjoyable read. I'll certainly continue the series and try to catch up to where it's at currently. The plot, setting, and characters were all pretty good. I'm probably most excited about the setting since Weeks has developed a very interesting magic system based on light and there are plenty of hints at more beyond what we learned in the first two books.

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