The Blinding Knife is the second book of the Lightbringer fantasy series by the highly acclaimed author Brent Weeks. It follows the New York Times Bestseller The Black Prism in an epic 912 page sequel.
After the electrifying kickoff to this series, I was itching to get my hands on The Blinding Knife. This book review does contain certain spoilers to the first book in this series The Black Prism if you have not read it already… so beware!
If you’re not familiar with how I conduct my book reviews, I typically just deliver the general gist of the book to give you an idea of whether or not this novel might be to your liking. I refrain from analyzing specific plot details that would spoil the reading experience for you.
These book reviews are meant to be a preview trailer, not a plot summary. I only include spoilers for previous novels if the novel is a sequential installment in a series. In this case, The Blinding Knife is book two of the Lightbringer series, so if you haven’t read any of the prior books… beware!
In short, this book review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of The Blinding Knife. Enjoy!
What reading genre is The Blinding Knife?
The Blinding Knife is considered to be a part of the epic fantasy genre.
How does The Blinding Knife compare to The Black Prism?
The Blinding Knife does a sensational job of harping upon the action-packed pandemonium that the previous novel, The Black Prism, somewhat lacked.
A colossal amount of time was devoted to illustrating the magic system in the debut novel. Consequently, the first book did not have as many action scenes as I would have liked.
A sturdy foundation had been constructed for the magic system in the opening volume. This set the scene to delve into the thick of things.
As a result, the content of The Blinding Knife was drastically different.
The long, drawn out expositions that we saw in the first novel about the how and why of luxin vanished.
This made a palpable difference in the overall appeal of the plotline. There was a lot more going on in terms of individualized subplots and refined intricacies in character-to-character relations.
How is the characterization in The Blinding Knife?
I originally thought the first book did a good job of graphically depicting the character personalities. The vivid characterization in The Blinding Knife, however, blows the debut novel out of the water in this regard.
What is an example of this vivid characterization?
For one, Kip Guile matures leaps and bounds over the course of this novel. He still retains a bit of his childish sarcasm. On the contrary, he shows signs of abandoning his younger, immature self in a more coming of age archetypical storyline.
In my opinion, this makes his character arc far more engaging. The reader is able to witnesses evident growth in Kip with every turn of the page.
Weeks expertly fixates the reader in the mind of Kip during this arduous transformation. This gives the reader a first person outlook during this metamorphosis.
Moreover, Weeks thrusts the reader into the minds of other characters detecting the changes of Kip. So not only is a first person perspective provided to the reader, but a third party perspective as well. Absolutely genius.
Are any of the other protagonists worth mentioning?
Another primary protagonist, Gavin Guile, is a critical reason to persist with the sequel.
In the opening volume, Gavin is virtually a god walking amongst men. Following the riveting finale of The Black Prism, Gavin begins to uncover his softer, humanlike qualities.
Stripped of drafting the imperative color blue, Gavin is forced to reevaluate who he is and what he values. He begins to second guess himself. These developments reveal that even those that seem invincible may have chinks in their armor after all.
Well if the protagonists are so phenomenal, how are the antagonists in The Blinding Knife?
Andross Guile, an underlying antagonist in the story, plays a principal act in the overall intrigue of the novel.
Andross Guile is shrewd, cunning and devious all wrapped up into one secluded warrior. He is always one step in front of the competition. In addition, he is completely unafraid to let his insubordinates know of his superior tactical skills.
The most alluring aspect of his character, however, is how he pursues his own agenda at all costs.
Andross thwarts our beloved protagonists many a time in his chase for absolute sovereignty. Still, it is hard not to marvel at his strategic prowess.
What separates The Blinding Knife from other fantasy novels?
As aforementioned, it is the characters in this novel that sets it apart from other fantasy series.
The reasoning behind each character’s decisions is spelled out in a remarkably logical manner. As a result, it is hard to argue against their eventual actions in times of crisis… even if they do go directly against a fellow protagonist’s ambitions.
There are numerous instances where the seemingly unshakeable loyalties of one character contend openly with that of another.
This callous pitting of character versus character is largely responsible for the harrowing suspense of the plot. It is nearly impossible to accurately predict how a character will behave when the pressure is on.
This controversy paves the way for a wide assortment of factions vying for control to secure their own individual criteria. This makes for a difficult time deciding which side to cheer for. Well played, Weeks. Well played.
How are the fantasy elements in The Blinding Knife?
The magic system of the Lightbringer series is one of my favorite to date. Weeks is masterful in the way that he exploits the concept of drawing magic from light.
With fantasy, it can be tempting to use the magic system as a writing cop out. It takes a disciplined writer to properly incorporate a magic system into the plot. Weeks fits all the criteria of what a disciplined writer is supposed to be.
The magic system is rarely used without purpose.
The power of light is used in a precise manner to bring out the best in his characters. By only utilizing the magic system when the situation calls for it, the fantasy world of The Blinding Knife still retains some semblance of reality.
Although this may seem petty to the casual reader, this semblance of reality preserves the authenticity of the setting.
Don’t take this the wrong way, fantasy readers love to have fantasy elements in their novels. But at the same time, fantasy readers do not want the fantasy elements to be overbearing.
Weeks strategically firmly anchors the fantasy elements of the magic system and setting to the familiarity of the real world.
The delicate harmony between fantasy and reality is often difficult for writers to achieve. Weeks, on the other hand, makes this balance look easy!
In summary, the fantasy elements of this novel are spectacularly done. Weeks definitely exhibited a striking improvement in the fantasy area from The Black Prism to The Blinding Knife.
What are the predominant themes in The Blinding Knife?
A major theme in The Blinding Knife is heroism.
Certain protagonists redefine what it means to be a hero in this epic fantasy adventure. They lay their lives on the line time and time again to protect others. These acts of heroism are not limited to one character.
Of course Gavin is the first person people turn to when they think of a hero in The Blinding Knife. But there are many protagonists that perform subtle acts of heroism. Ironfist, the Blackguards and even Kip are heroes in their own right, even if they do not perceive themselves to be.
The ideas and images associated with what a hero is supposed to be is challenged throughout The Blinding Knife. As a reader, we are offered insight into the inner workings of these perceived “heroes.” Some of the insights that are uncovered are surprising to say the least.
When we think of the archetypical hero, we think of the perfect storybook character. Fearless and undeterred by any setbacks. Character revelations in The Blinding Knife dispute this idea.
The reader is able to witness all of their internal doubts and fears that they keep to themselves. These revelations illustrate that these invincible “heroes” are human after all.
The theme of heroism in The Blinding Knife proves that anyone can be a hero. You do not have to be fearless or indestructible. All you need is the will to do good.
Another predominant theme in The Blinding Knife is the fear of failure.
This theme is a reinforced on a frequent basis in the storyline of Kip. In The Blinding Knife, Kip finally begins to meet people who care about him. These people want to see Kip succeed firsthand.
Thus, every time an obstacle stands in the way of Kip, there is immense external pressure on him to prosper.
This external stress does not correspond well with his crippling insecurities. This deadly combination results in an extreme fear of failure. To fear failure moderately is healthy for an individual because it keeps them prepared for the task at hand.
With Kip, this fear of failure is the furthest thing from healthy.
It becomes the lone obsession of Kip to prove his worth. He places unfair expectations on himself to surpass the competition, often at the expense of his own sanity.
The Blinding Knife explores the extent of fear is healthy for an individual that yearns to succeed but still wants to retain a semblance self stability.
This theme of fear of failure is not exclusive to Kip either. Karris, Ironfist and even the mighty Gavin Guile succumb to the fear of failure at numerous points throughout The Blinding Knife.
This demonstrates that the fear of failure is not specific to one individual. It is a natural human instinct that must be confronted, not ignored.
Will these protagonists be able to confront their fear of failure or crack under the pressure? Find out by reading The Blinding Knife!
What sort of emotions did you feel while reading The Blinding Knife?
With the personas being characterized so well, I felt a blend of feelings while reading The Blinding Knife.
Certain characters among others find themselves in precarious situations during their dangerous escapades. The ups and downs of their adventures lock the reader into their shoes.
What I mean by this is that it is remarkably easy to empathize with the characters, especially when they are trudging through a rough spot.
These feelings of empathy were no coincidence. Brent Weeks deliberately structured his novels to optimize for the reader to character relationship.
As a reader, we are exposed to the raw feelings of each and every protagonist. We witness their feelings of self doubt and disdain. Emotional vulnerabilities and painful memories from the past are thrust into the limelight.
It is not often in an epic fantasy novel that a writer deliberately reveals emotional weakness in their fantasy heroes. In standard fantasy novels, the fantasy heroes are made out to be practically invincible, physically and emotionally.
These weaknesses in the protagonist enhanced my emotional connections with the characters. Therefore, I felt nearly every emotion wholeheartedly in The Blinding Knife, even more so than its predecessor The Black Prism.
This marked improvement in character relatability and emotional connection made my reading experience much more worthwhile with this sequel.
Would you recommend The Blinding Knife to children?
No, I would not.
The Blinding Knife, along with the rest of the Lightbringer series, is written with a more mature audience in mind. There are graphic acts of violence scattered throughout the novel that would not be appropriate for a child. There are also a bit of sexual innuendos sprinkled in every so often.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for an epic fantasy novel for children, I would advise exploring other options.
Is there a novel to follow up The Blinding Knife?
Yes! The Blinding Knife is only book two of a five book fantasy saga. This five book fantasy saga is called The Lightbringer series.
Luckily, if you enjoyed this novel, the follow up novel has already been released.
Book three of the Lightbringer series, the follow up novel, is titled The Broken Eye.
If you have already finished The Blinding Knife and would like to see my thoughts about The Broken Eye, check out my non-spoiler review here! There is an intriguing character development that you definitely want to hear about!
The Blinding Knife Review Recap
Overall, Brent Weeks demonstrated his command over story writing with this narrative masterpiece. He proved why he is one of the most distinguished contemporary writers in the fantasy genre.
The sublime characterization and the improbable actions of both protagonists and antagonists alike make for an awe-inspiring sequel. The Blinding Knife undeniably eclipses the opening book. Brent Weeks, keep’em coming!
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Click over to a list of My Top Fantasy Books to see novels that are just as captivating as The Blinding Knife.
“Evil is simple and empty. Evil has no mysterious depths. We stare into a dark hole and fill it with our fears, but it is only a hole.”
“If you are not free to say no, your yes is meaningless.”
“The truth is so dear to me that if Orholam stood on one side and truth on the other, I would turn my back on my creator himself.”
“Pacifism is a virtue indisguishable from cowardice.”
“Put on some armor. Just remember what’s armor and what’s you, so when it’s time to take it off, you can.”
The Blinding Knife Review Rating: 9/10!
Back of the Book Blurb
Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left—now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, an illegitimate son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies.
Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.