The Burning White (Lightbringer #5) by Brent Weeks is the closing chapter of one of my most cherished fantasy sagas ever… The Lightbringer Series!
If you haven’t found the time to check out this fantasy series yet, I would highly recommend checking out my book review of The Black Prism (Lightbringer #1).
I have been awaiting the release of this epic conclusion for some time now, ever since the enthralling culmination of The Blood Mirror to be exact. Once this fantasy book finally hit the shelves, I got to reading nonstop ASAP to put out The Burning White review!
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.
The Burning White review is 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 Burning White is book five of the Lightbringer series, so if you haven’t read any of the prior books… beware!
In short, The Burning White review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of The Burning White. Enjoy!
What reading genre is The Burning White?
The Burning White is considered to be a part of the epic fantasy genre.
Where does The Burning White pick up?
Interestingly enough, The Burning White has a bit of an unorthodox opening relative to the rest of the Lightbringer Series.
The Burning White does not pick up immediately after the last events of The Blood Mirror. Instead, the book picks up a tad before the last events of the previous novel.
Weeks mentions this phenomenon in the preface. He states that the story was structured in this way purposefully to fill in some gaps in the storyline of Teia.
Does The Burning White start out strong?
The beginning of the novel felt a bit protracted and even dare I say stagnant for me.
I firmly believe this was deliberate on the part of Weeks. The beginning forced the reader re-familiarize themselves with the plot. Furthermore, it also compelled the reader to emotionally invest themselves into the characters again.
Much of the prose revolved around character development and fortifying the large collection of character dynamics involved in this series.
A large chunk of the introductory section was devoted to delving into the emotions, ambitions and thought processes of the characters. Among these characters were Gavin, Teia, Kip and even several of the minor characters like Cruxer.
Numerous times throughout the novel my affections for the protagonists were toyed with. I attribute much of this rekindled attachment to the opening. Although the opening was tedious to get through, I could see why it was necessary.
What was the best part about the opening?
There was one particular bright spot in the beginning stint of The Burning White. This bright spot was none other than the enigma of Andross Guile.
Up until this novel, he was persistently one of the most intriguing characters to me. My inability to predict what his ambitions were intrigued more than anything.
Andross is a conniving, manipulative little spider. I was taken aback at certain moments when learning of his origin story.
Understanding what exactly drives this man to do the things he does reshaped my entire perspective of his character. His story line was by far the most captivating in this description heavy portion of the novel.
Did the characterization alone make The Burning White worth the read?
Although the introductory stages of the novel undeniably served its purpose of setting up the rest of the story, character descriptions were not what brought me to this book.
What brought me to this book was curiosity.
Specifically, curiosity of how my favorite characters would end up at the conclusion of this epic saga. Who would live… or die. Who would get the happy ending… and who wouldn’t.
A few hundred pages passed before the conclusion of these sustained characterization based passages. Though, once the action started to roll, it came down with a roaring thunder.
How was the action?
One of the most admirable aspects of the writing is the excruciatingly graphic nature of the combat scenes. It was almost as if I was physically there in the thick of things. Whenever a scene of militant nature arose, I was a spectator witnessing the dancing clash of arms firsthand.
Every glancing blow, every skin-grazing feint, every reckless counter thrust… is done with such precise ingenuity. It is tough not to plainly visualize the deathly quarrel play out in your mind.
Is the dialogue still a strong point in this novel?
Beyond the action, the dialogue of the latter parts of the novel trumps the dialogue of the beginning stages tenfold.
Characters that I have been vigorously following for thousands of pages start to collide with one another in a conflict of ambitions. This lays the groundwork for unforeseen predicaments and fierce dialogue that had me wondering whose side to cheer for.
Battles of wit take place with the entire cast of characters. Each showdown is specifically catered for the characters involved.
For example, a witty quarrel between Andross and Kip is an altogether different beast when compared to a confrontation between a Teia and Murder Sharp. This is primarily due to the considerable contrast in character dynamics.
There is no one size fits all with this novel.
Each interaction is specific and individualized, building on prior events in the novel perfectly. The interactions coincide seamlessly with preparing the next plot twist.
Being nearly a thousand pages long, at times I felt that some of the dialogue was less meaningful and was aimed more toward reinforcing particular themes with characters to get particular points across to the reader.
This particularly applied to the story line of Gavin on his journey to self actualization because some of his dialogue felt drawn out and bluntly repetitive. In addition, religion become one of the more prominent points of his story arc which delved away completely from the main plot of the story.
On a positive note, I felt that for the most part that the dialogue was sensational. As with the previous novels, it was a particularly resilient mark of this novel.
How long of a read is The Burning White?
The Burning White is an extensive read.
The average reader takes 22 and a half hours to read from start to finish. With a count of nearly 340,000 words, The Burning White is not for everyone. Though if you have gotten this far in the Lightbringer series, you should be used to the lengthy nature of these novels.
Was the ending gratifying? (NO SPOILERS)
As far as the ending goes, I was satisfied overall with how the conclusion of the series played out.
The few oh! and aha! moments in the closing sections of the novel had me thoroughly pleased.
A few hundred pages were jam packed with action. Yet, I wished to see more of the story devoted to the actual battles themselves rather than character development and dialogue passages.
This may just be me being greedy here, but I felt would have added tremendously to my overall reading satisfaction.
As I mentioned before, character dialogue is one of the cornerstones of this novel but so are his action portrayals.
Since this was the final volume, a larger portion of the novel should have been devoted to the conflicts at hand rather than further attempting to “sell” the characters to the reader.
What are the predominant themes in The Burning White?
A major theme in The Burning White is the fear of failure.
The Burning White is the culmination of all the efforts in the previous novels of this saga. All of the protagonists that we have come to know and love have warded off evil time and time again.
Now that the ultimate test of will looms over each character as some of their worst fears appear on the horizon. So much is depending on their success that it is hard not to feel fear over the possibility of failure.
Every protagonist has to do their part to triumph over evil. There cannot be one weak link in the chain or everything they have worked so long to do will crumble.
Kip, Teia, Gavin, Karris, and a host of other characters evidently fear failure at each precarious step along the way. Do these characters crack under the pressure? Or are they able to confront their fears and reign victorious?
These questions and more are answered in the conclusion of The Burning White.
Another prevailing theme in The Burning White is good versus evil.
The Burning White is an archetypical sort of epic fantasy adventure with heroes and villains clashing at every turn. With nearly every epic fantasy story, the theme of good versus evil is the centerpiece holding everything together.
Being the fifth and final edition of the Lightbringer series, this theme is thrust to the forefront of the narrative especially.
Why? The conflict of good versus evil is resolved in this final battle. Epic fantasy novels reveal that hard truth that good does not always win. This hard truth keeps the reader guessing as the tale unfolds.
It is hard to judge which characters will live out their happy ending and which characters will fall victim to evil.
The theme of good versus evil is not just an external conflict. There are protagonists that suffer this conflict internally. Not all the protagonists in The Burning White are model human beings.
Although they are perceived to be good people on the outside, there are grievous sins lying in their wake. Such sins assuredly lead many readers to question the morality of these characters. In some cases, even the characters themselves question their own morality.
Will good prevail in these characters? Or will they make the heart-breaking shift to evil? Find out by reading The Burning White!
How does The Burning White differ from the rest of the Lightbringer series?
As I mentioned before in the dialogue section, religion took on a bit of a heftier role in The Burning White compared to its predecessors.
Although Brent Weeks may just have been trying to complete the character arcs of certain personas, it did not feel organic to me. The heavy weight placed on religion was honestly a real turn off to me.
It is one of the major reasons I marked The Burning White down a notch or two in relation to the rest of the Lightbringer series. The long monologues about faith versus doubt felt long and tedious.
Some of the snippets that I had the hardest time getting through are found where the divinities are emphasized.
This is is no coincidence. In my opinion, rather than focusing his efforts on the deities, Weeks should have devoted more time to the final battle of good versus evil that the readers have been waiting for. This reprioritization of emphasis would have reaped far more rewards.
The essence of the Lightbringer series lies in the characterization and the magic system. Not the relationship with the divinities. I applaud Weeks for trying to add another dynamic element to the series. However, I do not believe the risk panned out this time.
What sort of emotions did you feel while reading The Burning White?
I was elated to be thrust back into one of my favorite fantasy worlds ever after such a long layoff. I had been anticipating the release of The Burning White for the longest time.
Getting more time with the beloved characters of the Lightbringer series reminded me of why I loved this series in the first place.
At the conclusion of this novel, I was happy to finally satisfy my curiosity at seeing how some of my favorite characters ended up. At the same time, I felt a bit somber to officially say that I was done with the Lightbringer series for good.
As a wise man once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I can say with certainty that I am grateful that I read this series to its culmination.
The Burning White Review Recap
Overall, I was happy with The Burning White and the end of the Lightbringer series. Although I felt it was certainly a step back from the second and third novels of this series.
Although I felt there could have been more action involved and less divine intervention, I suppose that is easy to say on the outside looking in.
Once again the character dialogue was phenomenal, but maybe just a bit too drawn out at times. If you’re already four books into this series, I see no reason to not close out the saga, especially after reading about all the pros in The Burning White review!
If you want to wrap up The Lightbringer Series, check out the latest price on Amazon here.
Check out some of the other fantasy books I’ve reviewed by browsing through the list of My Top Fantasy Books.
“Silence is isolation chosen. Silence is darkness, and every evil loves the dark.”
“A man who’ll never risk being seen as an asshole is a man who doesn’t believe in anything.”
“If you’re trapped in the darkness all alone, how do you know you’re alone and not actually surrounded by an army of friends, also silent, also afraid in the dark, merely waiting for the sound of one voice to rouse them from fear, to fight for freedom?”
“…a man must fear he’ll lose his integrity in a world like this or he’ll never keep it.”
The Burning White Review Rating: 6/10!
Back of the Book Blurb
In the stunning conclusion to the epic, New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves.
Gavin Guile, once the most powerful man the world had ever seen, has been laid low. He’s lost his magic, and now he is on a suicide mission. Failure will condemn the woman he loves. Success will condemn his entire empire.
As the White King springs his great traps and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile must gather his forces, rally his allies, and scramble to return for one impossible final stand.
The long-awaited epic conclusion of Brent Weeks’s New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series.