Genre: Epic Fantasy
Hardcover: 688 pages
Publisher: Orbit; First Edition
Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Author Website: Brent Weeks
The Blinding Knife picks up right where The Black Prism left off. The town of Garriston has been evacuated under the onslaught of the Color Prince, and Gavin Guile, Prism of the Chromeria, is leading the refugees to safety.
As the story develops, the reader continues to follow three primary characters. The first is Gavin as he attempts to lead a society based on color magic and complete his seven goals in the seven years of a Prism’s lifespan. But a wrench is thrown in the gears when Gavin begins to lose his colors – and therefore his life – much sooner than expected. Will he be able to stop the resultant banes and their attendant color wights?
Kip Guile, the now-acknowledged bastard child of Gavin, must return to the Jasper islands and the seat of Chromerian power in order to train to become a Blackguard. There he meets a friendly young woman but trickery and deceit may still prevent him from taking a coveted place in the coming war.
Liv Danavis, traitor to the Chromeria and attendant to the Color Prince, falls more and more under the sway of the Prince’s power and philosophy of magic, discovering his true identity and adopting his ideas of a world led by wights and color gods.
Weeks’ story is a melding of three typical fantasy storylines. Gavin’s tale deals with large events on a world scale. He is the protector and sovereign of a nation, and he must deal with the war that is brewing between the hobbled Chromeria and the powerful color magics of the Color Prince’s armies. Meanwhile, he also deals with realpolitik at home. Kip, on the other hand, is enduring the young-man-develops-into-hero plotline. The particulars are different – as they should be – but that is the flow of his story, punctuated by Gavin’s surprise appearances and some political involvement with his grandfather. Kip has an epic destiny that is beginning to show its first fruits in The Blinding Knife. Liv, the idealist, is slowly being turned by a combination of Stockholm syndrome and her own anger towards Chromerian society into a revolutionary. Each of these three storylines mesh and interweave, culminating in an epic battle at the end of the book.
The narrative is an epic build-up to war. Each character must undergo a set of trials and tribulations tailored to their situation. With each, the decisions they make have far-reaching implications for the fate of the Chromeria.
The color magic that Weeks created for this four-part series continues to be developed. We are first introduced to the banes in The Blinding Knife and several magical items – including the titular knife and a Magic:The Gathering-style card game – make their first appearance. It appears that the color magic is much more complex than mere power based on color visualization, and that the uses of luxin are more and more varied than those first seen in The Black Prism as rare colors are described and used. This can lead to some difficulty grasping hold of the disparate elements, but a glossary and appendix make it easier for the reader to stay on top of the complex worldbuilding.
The Blinding Knife is a tale that focuses on the personal. Gavin, Kip and Live’s dirty laundry are aired out for our viewing, and none of them take the expected character arc longtime readers of fantasy would expect. This is Weeks’ great strength. Firstly, he is able to get readers to care deeply about his fictions and then, secondly to subvert our expectations of the route those lives will take with ingeniously created problems that require elegant and surprising solutions.
The Lightbringer series is one of the better large-scale epic fantasies being written today. Its story is deeply personal, well thought-out, surprising, and, above all, exciting. You will want to devour both books, and what you thought would happen after The Black Prism will get turned on its head in The Blinding Knife. I commend this series to any fans of epic fantasy looking for something that smells of the old fantasy but is redolent of the new.