The Blinding Knife

Brent Weeks
The Blinding Knife Cover

The Blinding Knife


An action packed sequel, and generally a much better book than The Black Prism was. Brent Weeks clearly took most of the critique that The Black Prism drew and changed tack accordingly for this venture, but how he handles that leaves a little to be desired.

Life just never stops giving you lemons when you're the Prism. Gavin Guile has fifty thousand refugees to relocate following the fall of Garriston, a bastard son he has plans for but whom he can never entirely trust, an ex-fiancée that now knows his biggest secret and whom he may have no choice but to kill despite how much he loves her, and that's not even including the mysterious Color Prince who's slowly destroying the status quo and bringing war not only to the Seven Satrapies but to the Chromeria itself. It's almost a bit of a relief that he knows he has less than a year to live. But Gavin's problems are about to become much, much bigger. A dying Prism means the colors he binds with his will begin to get out of control. And with the imbalance of the colors, the old gods begin to stir.

Definitely a much better book than the first in the series was. Not only does it feel much more tightly written, but Brent Weeks clearly took some of the common complaints of the first book and shifted his style accordingly in this book. However, it felt quite apparent; there's a point somewhere in the second quarter of the book from which going forward I felt like I was reading a very different book. Some dramatic changes took place, most of which I'll touch on a little later as I get to them. But the first and most obvious one was how much less juvenile the book felt. At the start of this, there was still the odd focus on boobs here and there that just pretty much rolled over from the first book, but somewhere in the second quarter this entirely disappears. It was a very welcome change and almost instantly made it feel like a much better book. Combined with how tightly it's written, there's so much that goes down in this book it proved impossible at times to put down. The chapter splits also made it easier for me to fool myself into saying I'd just read one more chapter, and just another after that, and another.....

Kip Guile is rapidly becoming one of my all time favorite protagonists in any fantasy book. At the start in this book, as Kip begins his Blackguard training, it felt at times like a different person from the kid I liked in the first book. There were moments where he was his typical bumbling self, but a much too efficient one, like the way in which he deals with the bully at the start. That didn't feel like Kip to me. But somewhere between quarter and halfway through the book, Weeks seemed to settle back firmly into the Kip I enjoyed reading about so much. Kip may be effective, but that's mostly a combination of being in the right place, at the right time, and having a lot of luck. He's a screw up, he knows it, and he has low self confidence for it. Even though he undergoes training, it never really helps him, it just seems to increase his chances of getting in a lucky shot when he finds himself in a fight. And that's not even touching how his weight gets used to his advantage, like when he was wrestling a fellow comrade during the trials. He's what the farmboy-answering-the-call-to-action trope would look like if said farmboy were a fat screwup, and that's his charm for me.

The world expands a little in this book, but the expansion we see is all entirely tied into the plot, which I liked very much. With the introduction of Teia, Kip's training partner in the Blackguard, we learn of an all new spectrum of colors considered heretical, one of which Teia can draft, called pyral. The religious undertones of the series begin to perk up a little as Gavin's failed grip on the colors causes the old gods to stir. It leads not only to many of the characters questioning their religious beliefs, but even acting on them at times. Its a theme of the book that only pops up more to fuel the plot and create more adventure as it goes as opposed to trying to provoke any thoughts, but it's still noteworthy.

As far as the plot goes, this is just entirely a much more action packed book than the previous was. We follow Gavin as he prepares as he struggles to come to grips with his own mortality whiles being the Prism, Kip as he enters the training to become a Blackguard on Gavin's orders, and Liv with the Color Prince's army. Between the three, there's a lot of scheming and plotting and random events and emotional turmoil that keeps things lively for the entire length of the book; most second books suffer from a major ratcheting down in tension and action, but I found this to be the opposite in this case. It was actually impossible to put down at times.

Pretty much the only issue I have with the book left to touch on is how Gavin handles the effects that the Blinder's Knife had on him. I expected to see him struggle to adjust to the slow but steady loss of colors, but for the most part it was quite the opposite; it seemed even with the loss of the occasional color Gavin was unstoppable. Once again, somewhere in that mysterious second quarter this dramatically changes, and we see Gavin not only hampered at times but even attempting to use colors he can't draft anymore by instinct in fights, leading to him taking a pounding. And all of that is not touching the pretty much telegraphed ending; there were a few nice touches here and there but the plot twists may as well have had neon signs over them for all intents and purposes.

All in all, it's a book I had far more fun reading and a lot less issues with compared to my feelings on The Black Prism. Which for me makes it a better book. I felt like the first chunk of the book could have done with a rewrite or a little bit of creative editing so that the drastic shift I felt somewhere in the second quarter isn't quite so obvious, but ultimately I had far too much fun reading this book to complain much, which is all I've been expecting from this series after seeing how the first book went. It still tries to take itself seriously at times, and with the welcome changes in Weeks's writing style that I saw, I'm inclined to also start taking it a little more seriously. But not by much. Despite the levels of violence depicted, the entire series still very much lacks any sense of gravity for me to take it as anything more than a fun read. All in all, a much better read than The Black Prism was, and one that makes me want to immediately dive into The Broken Eye even though I can't. Soon enough, I guess!