The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks (Lightbringer: Book 2)

9/10 The Blinding Knife delivers more flashes of magic and storytelling brilliance making for a solid second instalment in the Lightbringer Series.

The Blinding Knife delivers more flashes of magic and storytelling brilliance making for a solid second instalment in the Lightbringer Series.

Gavin’s journey continues to surprise me. His actions have taken a darker turn as he has become more and more desperate to find a resolution to all his problems. And it’s not something I expected to see in a fantasy that is not grimdark. He is losing his touch and his power. As such he is becoming less rational and quicker to anger as he still struggles to uphold his many burdens. The world looks to him for salvation and leadership; the world looks to him to make things right. And up until now he has always been able to make the impossible real. It’s a hard pill to swallow and it’s going to take him to some darker places for sure. Interesting times ahead as his magic slips through his finger, everything special about him is gone. 

As before, the magic system is remarkably well crafted, and it continues to grow as more of the character’s capabilities are explored. I’ve never read anything quite like it. It’s such a simple idea but it feels complex. It’s by far one of the best I’ve ever seen in fantasy and I love the descriptions that come with it. They really bring this world to life in all its many colours. And we see much of it from the perspective of Kip, a trainee magic user who has not quite come to terms with his potential. His blind luck is starting to be replaced by skill even if he hasn't quite managed to grip his untapped potency. 

The villain of the series, the Colour Prince, is slowly emerging and increasing his power. I’m not entirely sure what his motives are at this point, and he remains somewhat of an enigma. I’d like to think he wants more than revenge, though time will tell what he is after. The reals bastard of the story though is Gavin’s father, Andross Guile. He has a Tywin Lannister type vibe as he works towards manipulating his family in order to serve his own ends and legacy. He keeps things interesting and will no doubt cause some real trouble before this story ends. I find myself rooting for him though because despite his lack of morality his tenacity is quite admirable. This isn’t a man who will go down easily. 

At times, though, it felt a little slow even for epic fantasy. The narrative has frequent splices of action, however the main plot only ever crawled forward. Certainly, it gave the characters time to grow, but at times it needed more urgency. If I wasn’t already invested in this story, I may have put this down permanently. And that would be a real shame because I do expect great things ahead. 

I look forward to seeing where this series goes to next. And I hope it starts to move forward quicker. My expectations are high for how this will all end. I can honestly say Brent Weeks is almost on par with Brandon Sanderson, almost. There’s so much potential here and the balance is almost perfect. 

I’m reading this as part of the #LightbringerSeriesReread as organised by Orbit UK. Be sure to follow the hashtag on twitter for more updates from myself and other readers. 

For now, though, I’m moving straight onto the third book, The Broken Eye.

8.7 / 10

-- Sean Barrs

I don’t think I've enjoyed a fantasy novel quite as much as Week’s second in his “Lightbringer” series. The reason is that his form taps neatly into the great fantasy series of the ‘80s and ‘90s very well. Essentially the reader follows the waxing fortunes of a young child who goes through character building trials and tribulations on their way to great power, kingship, nobility and generally saving whatever world they are on. It’s a formula used brilliantly by the likes of Feist, Eddings, Weis and Hickman, Wurts, Douglass, Canavan – to name a few. Weeks has reined back in his Night Angel exuberance where the fight scenes got more and more over the top (it was almost a fantasy version of Matthew Reilly’s ‘Scarecrow’) and produced a series with the necessary pace to enthral the reader. Namely… a slow build up.

As readers we all know Kip Guile’s destiny (the umming and aaahing by several characters over the concept of a Lightbringer is irrelevant given the title of the trilogy); it’s just we want to grow up with this slightly chubby, outspoken, intelligence lad as he struggles to come to terms with both himself and his scheming, all-powerful family. All you need to do is stick him in Week’s version of Hogwarts, have him attempt to reach the exacting standards of the Blackguards, have a couple of “bullying” scenes, surround him with a bunch of class mates who fulfil every weakness he’s got (Cruxer, Teia et al.), ensure he’s got a stoical mentor (IronFist), and then have a patriarchal society menace him (led by Andross Guile). Do all that and you've got the vital ingredients for transiting a boy to a man. Oh… wait. That’s exactly what the author does.

The development of Kip is surrounded by the action of relationships. That being between: Daseen and Gavin; Karris and Daseen; Liv and the Color Prince; The Prism and The White; Kip and Andross – to name a few. Behind it all raise the spectre of the theatre of war, the failure of Daseen’s luxin, and the prophesy of the Lightbringer. It’s a heady, potent mix delivered in a manner that is both exhilarating and neatly written. My only “concern” with this book is the portrayal of women. They all seem to be too focused around their lust or love for men (barring The White), Week’s continually having them either openly seductive or worrying about how to be seductive, or how to deal with their emotions. He even has an openly sadistic scene with Teia and her owner. I am not sure what the author is trying to have the reader think with his female characters at times. Those that are depicted as strong (Karris, Liv and Marissia) are in thrall to strong men which is displeasing to this reader. I’d like to see the balance redressed with female characters who are strong in personality, not subjected to slavery, beatings, emotional hesitancy.

Anyway, Weeks is as good as Canavan. This new trilogy is better than his first. It’s more mature, better paced, more considerate of the reader – less of the outpourings of a teenage boy, more the crafting of a skilled author. Having read Ian C Esslemont before this I can see a plain difference in the writing skills and erudition of both authors. But, for me, it would be like comparing Dickens to Cussler. Both are excellent in their own way and should be read without comparison. If you truly want to know where Weeks is then you could easily compare him to Eddings or Feist. With regard to the former, Weeks is easily as good; for the latter… still some way to go to match the skill of “Magician”.

9.5 / 10

-- travelswithacanadian

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2 positive reader review(s) for The Blinding Knife

7 positive reader review(s) in total for the Lightbringer series


Brent Weeks's Lightbringer series

The Burning White

Lightbringer: Book 5

The Black Prism

Lightbringer: Book 1

The Blinding Knife

Lightbringer: Book 2

The Blinding Knife reader reviews

from Netherlands

To keep it plain and simple, this story brought back kind memories off the 90's, Feast, Hobb, Goodkind, Eddings... you'll probably know it, they were the best. This one is better. Modern style, greatly written. Great characters, awesome progression, great action. I liked it, a lot.

from UK

I was fortunate to meet Brent at FantasyCon. My son had him sign both books in the new series. Brent read an excerpt (supposedly) from his next book after Blinding Knife. He has a very distinctive style of reading and I could hear his voice as I read Blinding Knife. That was a little unsettling! Fortunately the excerpt turned out to be as much fantasy as the book! He had us all believing he was going to kill off one of his main characters. He may still do so, but not as happened in his reading. I still haven't forgiven JK Rowling for killing off Hedwig! Anyway - to the book. It follows on from Black Prism. Blinding Knife is brilliantly written and the characterisation is excellent as per usual. The series is a distinctly different fantasy series to any other and he creates a whole new range magic type with associated rules. It's a very long book so those that enjoy reading will regard it as excellent value. It may be overlong if you like fast paced books all the way through. For everyone else - this is a cracking read and I would recommend it. It has everything a fantasy fan would like.

9.7/10 from 3 reviews

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