Unlike the first book, the title of this entry actually has something to do with the story. And in many ways Brent Weeks’ The Blinding Knife is an exceptional sequel, transcending the former. I’ll go so far as to say I’d rather this had been the first book in the series. But it wasn’t perfect, as many books aren’t. A certain scene within the third quarter of the book really threw me off and shoved what could’ve been a 9+ rating down a few notches, but for spoilers sake I’ll save that for the last paragraph.
One of the age old tropes within the fantasy genre, the period of time where the young protagonist goes to school to train his/her skills, never actually seems to get old. In conjunction with that thought, Kip Guile’s time spent in the Chromaria is exceptionally satisfying literature. For a magic-system as unique as Chromaturgy, it was a necessity to start us from the basics alongside Kip. The book makes this all a far more believable and enjoyable magic system than the previous book got across.
One thing that’s always fascinated me is how light splits into color. Are there colors unknown to us, perhaps only visible in the light of a distant star? Well, nothing so extreme is mentioned in this book, but an interesting concept is brought out. In the first book we learned that it’s possible to see invisible colors via dilating your eyes a certain amount. This book we learn about certain uncanny colors that the majority of all drafters don’t even know exist, past even the subreds and superviolets. Tia, one of the book’s new characters learns how to control her eyes to see into pyral, a fictional color that those in the book believe to be pagan in origin, and these are among my favorite scenes in the book. Tia overall is a wonderful, underprivileged character, who grows with Kip, and it really is hard not to love her.
It’s clear that Brent Weeks’ personal life and hobbies bleed into his story, but never so much as with the card game implemented in this installation, Nine Kings. It came out of nowhere. I can’t even remember if it was mentioned in the first book. But it’s inclusion, random or other, aids the story really well. It’s a completely unique way of introducing the history and lore of the world via, essentially, a trading card game. It was hard for me to accept that this wasn’t the product of long hours playing Magic: The Gathering. And, sure enough, Weeks’ mentions MTG was certainly an influence on his writing for this book. I expect several underdeveloped plot threads that include these cards will affect the third book. Guess we’ll see.
The character development for Kip really is some of the best I’ve ever read. He’s a fat kid, the bastard to the Prism who’s one of, if not the most powerful people in the world. It’s an extremely lofty standard to try and reach. Kip knows he can never reach it, but that never stops him from trying – and in so doing continues to impress nearly everyone. He’s not just ‘Kip the almost’, despite what he may think. With this book we see he makes the right friends, wins the right fights, and grows up. And although he’s genetically capable of being one of the strongest individuals in the series, he’s clumsy and daft and a downright awful fighter. His determination, in light of his innumerable flaws, is one big beautiful exclamation of fiction on Weeks’ part.
This last paragraph I spoil a major event. Step back. Don’t read it if you haven’t already read the book. So… That entire storyline set aside for Dazen Guile, attempting to get out of the 7 prisons. Yeah that one. After Gavin throws the floozy off the balcony of his room in the Chromaria, he goes down to his brothers hidden cell. And after telling Dazen he would free him after 16 long years? He shoots him dead. And then when he comes back up from the prison there are no immediate repercussions to him killing the girl. What?! What a wasted section of the book. Did Weeks’ hit a dead end with the character(s)? This has to be the most let down I’ve been all year about a plot thread being so grossly underutilized. Extremely anticlimactic. And for seemingly no reason. Sure, I bet there will be repercussions, but to pretend there aren’t any before actually finishing the novel? Really disappointing.