Brent Weeks’ second entry into his expansive and ambitious Lightbringer Trilogy (or, technically, Quadrilogy) comes in the form of the fantasy masterpiece, The Blinding Knife. Capitalizing and improving upon everything in the first novel of the series (The Black Prism), Weeks weaves a world filled with maps, cards, mystics, and prophecies that, put simply, does not stop. From the first page to the last, The Blinding Knife’s momentum carries the story forward at breakneck speeds that refuse to relinquish the reader – which really does becomes problematic around 3am. And, sporting a hefty 671 pages, I guarantee there were many such nights. But this, I promise you, was time well spent and much enjoyed.
The story follows a variety of characters, among them the protagonists Kip, a rotund, clumsy, and infinitely lovable polychrome, and his “father” Gavin, the Prism who hides his true identity from all, as they prepare for a war with a creature heretofore unseen by humanity and who possesses a cunning intelligence that threatens to upend all of the Chromeria. It is a story of intrigue and tactical political philosophy that works to wash away the lines drawn in the sand by so many other fantasy stories that determine good from evil. What Weeks writes is a tale of two forces, neither truly in the right nor in the wrong. And it is in this that his novel finds its teeth.
The Blinding Knife is constructed in such a way that readers are often torn when it comes to having to choose which army to back, for Weeks writes them both with such morally gray finesse that readers can’t help but look beyond the two armies and instead focus on the individuals trapped within the conflicts. It is with these smaller individuals – Gavin, Kip, Liv, etc. – rather than with the larger leaders of the two powers that the story finds its form and with whom readers are able to revel in their successes or failures.
The Blinding Knife also, in a way, feels much more mature than The Black Prism in that Weeks confronts very real and poignant quandaries regarding an array of topics such as religion, faith, blind allegiance, and the ever popular “ends vs. means.” Questions such as these are reflective of the very human story Weeks is telling in this world of fantasy and magic. And Weeks poses these questions in such a frank, innocent way that we, as readers, can’t help but ponder them ourselves as we follow the character’s train of reasoning and eventual conclusion. I, personally, took the character Liv’s story to heart as I found myself asking the same questions regarding religion that she had about her own faith. Her journey of self discovery followed me beyond the page and pushed me to develop and question my own stances regarding our place in this world. And a story that has the capacity to affect its readers like that is something quite special.
All in all, I found The Blinding Knife to be among the finest of fantasy pieces available today. With a riveting storyline that refuses to relent its swift pace and a cast of characters, none of whom ever truly fall into the realm of “antagonist,” that push readers to think beyond the borders of the novel, The Blinding Knife is an exemplary work worthy of all of the hearty praise it has received since its publishing.