Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2), by Brent Weeks

You guys, I was so close to giving this one five stars. In fact, I'd say I'd still give it a solid four and a half if that were an option. The writing is tight and impressive without getting flowery. The Prism continues to be one of the most well-written hero-type fantasy protagonists I've ever read. I continue to adore his kick-ass love interest & her martial arts skills. His insecure-yet-earnest, almost-too-smart-for-his-own-good teenage bastard son is so believable it hurts. Bad guys do honorable things and have understandable motives. Good guys sometimes do crappy things. Ambivalent characters abound. Political machinations are brilliantly executed. And over the course of book two, it becomes clear that certain narrative arcs are coming home to roost, some of them so artfully crafted that they didn't even look like narrative arcs until now. What you thought was characterization was actually plot. What you thought was plot was characterization. He's a clever, calculating man, this Brent Weeks.

Even the things that for me keep it from being five stars really fall into the category of personal preference. For one, I hate battle scenes. (They are Just. So. BORING. If all books with multi-page/multi-chapter battle scenes could just replace them with a single page that reads "They fight," & then list any relevant plot points, that'd be super sweet.) And then there were a couple of rather mushy scenes that kind of made me go, "Ugh, this...", although I suppose they were inevitable in terms of the story and were admittedly skillfully written.

So yeah. My bar for fantasy is high. The Black Prism exceeded it, and The Blinding Knife was even better. I'm glad I didn't hear about these books until the last one in the trilogy (The Broken Eye) came out, because I can't wait to find out how it ends.

(Update: Eff. I just found out there's a fourth book that isn't out yet. *Shakes fist at sky* On the other hand, this does mean that I likely get another 600+ pages of awesome from Weeks, so on the balance I probably come out ahead in this one.)

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