Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: THE BLINDING KNIFE by Brent Weeks

Rating: 5/5 stars

**This entire review is filled with SPOILERS for The Blinding Knife.**

This book was incredible! I am so glad I’m reading this series right now because it is everything I want and more. This review will be somewhat disjointed because I type my thoughts as I read so there’s usually little connection from one thought to the next. But I have SO much to say and speculate about this story so let’s jump right in.

I think Kip is the Lightbringer. He fits all the descriptions. He even questioned it himself. Other people questioned it. When he was carrying Janus she said she knew who the Lightbringer was. All evidence is pointing to Kip; he’s the obvious choice. But because he’s the obvious choice it probably isn’t going to be him after all. I bet we’ll have to wait until The Burning White to find out who the Lightbringer really is, or if he even exists at all.

Speaking of Janus Borig though, how cool is she? I’m very intrigued by her. She can see into the past and probably also the future and can depict whole life stories in her magical paintings. And she has singlehandedly created the game of Nine Kings and designed every card in that game. (How did literal fortune cards ever get turned into a casual card game though?) Her ability as a Mirror is my favorite in this series, even more than drafting. I’m so sad that she died. She had such a large store of secrets that I wanted to keep hearing, but at least some of her original cards were saved.

What’s especially interesting about the Nine Kings cards that Kip was going through was that there was a card labeled Black Luxin. Kip didn’t pay any mind to this card and just kept going through the stack, but that is confirmation that black luxin does exist! Which means white luxin must also exist.

It seems pretty obvious that the blinding knife is made of white luxin, but I’d like to know who drafted it and where it came from. When Gavin was stabbed with it, he lost blue. When Vox was stabbed with it, Gavin lost green. How did Gavin lose green if he wasn’t stabbed with the blade a second time? What happens when the blade has grown to maximum size and all the jewels on the blade are glowing and the blade has absorbed all the colors? I guess we’ll be finding out in The Broken Eye, seeing as this was the blade’s state at the end of this book.

I have a theory: the blinding knife was originally used by the Prism in the Sun Day ceremony when he has to free the drafters who are close to breaking the halo. Instead of killing them, like what happens now, he would only take their colors from them so they couldn’t draft themselves into insanity. I hope we do find out more about how the blinding knife is used because it seems to be able to cause multiple effects on people. When Gavin was stabbed at the end of The Black Prism, he lost the ability to see and draft one color. When he was stabbed at the end of The Blinding Knife, he lost the ability to see and draft all colors. When Andross was stabbed, his broken halo receded and he gained more energy as if he had become a younger drafter again. Why didn’t the knife take Andross’s ability to draft colors also? Instead, it strengthened his drafting. Very peculiar.

As much as I hate Andross, I think Weeks does a great job at crafting his character. I’m very curious to see what he will do in the next book now that he has essentially regained his ability to draft, especially since he even commented that this changes everything. And also now that he’s no longer a color wight, which I totally saw coming, by the way. After the chapter that featured the Nine Kings card called ~The Master~, I suspected he had probably become a color wight and no one knew because he was always in the dark and always covered his eyes when he wasn’t.

But Andross went from being a color wight to being a normal drafter again, which means it is possible to affect the halo with the knife, or possibly with white luxin itself? What would the Color Prince do with this information, or with the knife? He is pro-wight, but only because he’s against killing drafters who are about to break the halo. Would he still let people break the halo and be free, or would he keep everyone within the safe limits of drafting because that’s still not something the Chromeria is willing to do? Ooh, I cannot wait to read more of this intricate narrative.

I really want to know more about the legendary colors: black, white, and paryl (and chi, but that hasn’t come up in the story yet). Can paryl do more than see armor on people? How many paryl drafters are actually out there? Is solid paryl actually another form of luxin that’s a different color? Can the Prism see or draft paryl, or chi? He is the Prism, after all, and we already know he can draft the legendary white luxin.

I think it’s interesting that real Gavin had just accepted that he is Dazen now, and when real Dazen visits him in the prison, the prisoner addresses him as Gavin even though he’s not. I would have thought that real Gavin would be headstrong in his identity, that real Dazen couldn’t take that away from him too, his last shred of freedom. But he was going insane and maybe started to believe that he was Dazen by this point.

When the real Dazen killed the real Gavin, I did not expect that at all. What was the whole point of keeping him locked up for sixteen years then, just to kill him? At first, mercy meant keeping him alive, until mercy came to mean ending his life because of his insanity. And the last line of that chapter hit me so hard: “[Gavin] looked over at the wall, where the prisoner had been glancing repeatedly, but he saw nothing but the reflection of a dead man.” Oh wow. That’s heavy. Talk about foreshadowing.

I was impressed by how smart Dazen was in breaking out of the prisons, and by Gavin for creating them in the first place. I was seriously scared a few times that Dazen was finally going to break free, but Gavin outsmarted us all. It is ironic though that the prison Gavin spent only a month constructing held Dazen for sixteen years, while the two prisons that he spent a year constructing barely held him for a month.

I also finally saw the irony in this book of the connection between the definition of the word guile and the characters whose name is Guile. As was stated at one point to the question “Was he a good man?” was the answer, “He was a Guile,” as if that explained everything we needed to know. Weeks does such a good job of crafting his characters and their traits and personalities.

One character who started out as an insignificant tertiary character but who grew into a substantial secondary character was Adrasteia. She really grew on me the longer I read the story, and I like her now. I hated her mistress though, so I was so glad when Kip won her through Nine Kings.

I love Kip’s journey of learning to play Nine Kings and how much he dedicated to learning the cards and practicing the techniques. I mean I hated the scenes when he actually had to play against Andross because Andross is a piece of dirt, but I still liked Kip’s devotion to the game.

Kip isn’t my favorite character but his story is the most interesting to read about. I love how Weeks is able to show how the Blackguard training aided in his character progression. He becomes physically stronger, a better drafter, and more disciplined of speech. His story is really one of him growing up and coming into himself. He used to be (and still sometimes is) very focused on himself, but now he is much more aware of how his actions matter and actually affect others, and he has matured so much since the beginning of book one. I’m looking forward to seeing him grow up more throughout each book in the series.

I think it’s interesting that the Color Prince is trying to create his own Spectrum but is just using the gods instead because he wants to be more powerful than the Chromeria. I think some of his philosophies that the Chromeria is wrong, etc. make so much sense and I can totally see where he’s coming from and why he has supporters; however, he is going about enacting his ideas in the wrong way, which is why he’s a problem.

I do think Liv was misguided when she chose to stay in the Color Prince’s army. I think she finally has her freedom, and just like a child on their own for the first time without anyone telling them what to do, she is asserting her freedom and making poor decisions. Obviously she still loves her dad and respects him, and she even teared up just seeing his handwriting. I think down the road she will realize that she has made a big mistake by trusting Koios and there will be a big ordeal when she tries to leave him. Honestly, the only thing I’m upset about is Liv sleeping with Zymun and letting herself get pushed around by him, which is when I lost all respect for her. I still don’t hate Liv but I do think she is making some bad decisions right now. But in her defense, she’s not directly killing anyone by her own hand. I’m curious if she will still support Lord Omnichrome when he makes her actually kill people, especially if it’s someone close to her, because right now she’s mostly just there on the political side. But she’s not really free. Anytime she is faced with the horrific actions of the Prince, she drafts superviolet and hides behind the ability to become emotionless so she can justify what he’s doing and not have to think about how she’s supporting him by staying, even if she’s not directly taking the same evil actions that he is.

As for Zymun, I was happy to see him leave the Color Prince’s army, and I had hoped he was gone for good, but I was wrong. I was very surprised to learn that Zymun is Karris’s son that she left as a baby. I was wondering when that boy was going to show up, and it turns out it has been Zymun all along. He treated Kip like crap though even though he’s his “brother,” which really shows Zymun’s true nature and that he seeks only after power. One thing I am curious about was how Zymun found out that he was indeed Karris’s son, and I hope we discover these answers in the next book.

Even though I still feel like I don’t know much about Karris, I do really like her. I am so so happy about what happened between real Dazen and Karris. I have been waiting for him to tell her the truth since the beginning of The Black Prism, and they are so clearly meant to be together. Their scenes together just made me smile and giggle at their being in love. I love this subtle love story in this series and that it spanned all of books one and two and really built up the tension before anything actually happened.

I actually think that Weeks does a good job of portraying the differences between men and women without degrading women. I think he has said a lot in these books that is actually quite empowering for women, and I respect that. He understands (or at least writes as if he understands) a woman’s perspective, and I find myself relating to that on many occasions. (That’s not to say all the characters were respectful of women, though.)

The only thing I even slightly disliked about this book is that I had a hard time picturing the final battle scene, which is my own issue, not the book’s issue. For some reason, I just couldn’t play it out in my mind so I couldn’t follow along very well. I definitely liked the battle and fight scenes less than the other parts of the book when they’re learning about the properties of luxin or training to be Blackguards or having important conversations. I know the battles are cool because the characters get to show off their drafting abilities and use luxin to fight, but I am just way more interested in the plot of this book, so I felt like those fight scenes slowed me down from discovering more answers that I needed.

I really like Weeks’s writing style though. I find it very easy to fall into the story. One thing I love that he does is create a slow burn and make me work for some of the details. For example, the blinding knife was introduced in book one, we learned more details about it in book two, but there’s so much that’s still a mystery that will be revealed in book three and possibly even book four. His story isn’t rushed at all, but it also isn’t slow by any means either, and I love that I just get to savor every word in that way.

The Blinding Knife is better than The Black Prism in my opinion, and I bet the books will just keep getting better with each installment. I have never had such a visceral reaction to a book as with this one. Any book that gets that kind of reaction out of me is worth every star and rave review. Weeks is an excellent writer and this is an excellent and unique epic fantasy story that I can’t recommend enough.
“He who looks through only one lens lives in darkness.”

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