I keep meaning to post some more reviews, let's kick things off with this book by Brent Weeks.
The Black Prism was the novel that kicked off this latest series by Weeks. It was an interesting book that struck a chord with a bunch of us on staff because it was a good example of innovation. A magic system based on making light solid, mix in some curious world building, cool mechanics for the magic (along with a cost not unsimilar to what the Wheel of Time series does for using it).
While The Black Prism was an interesting book, there were things about it that left Vandread and I, in particular, feeling a little frustrated. Because of that, I went into The Blinding Knife a little suspicious; my guard was definitely up. Needless to say, if you haven't read the first book, there may be some spoilers here, but I'll use the tags, so bear with me.
TBK picks up right where the first book leaves off. Gavin has survived the assassination attempt, though not without a cost. The book sets up the interesting question of what it means when the Prism himself loses the ability to draft certain colors. It's a sign that things in the world are beginning to fall apart, and that the Color Prince is the least of the worries that Gavin will have in book two. The story in the book revolves a lot around Gavin and his continuing struggles and works as Prism, as well as Kip and his life as he returns to the academy and tries to learn to be a drafter and deal with his grandfather.
It makes for an interesting story in a lot of ways. The Kip end of things has a lot of the standard elements you might expect from the trope of boy goes off to magic school, though it uses interesting elements from the setting to spice things up and make it much more engaging. One of the problems that I have with TBK though, is that the Kip segments tend to be so much more engaging than the majority of the Gavin segments that much of the other parts of the book just seem like interludes you have to wade through to keep you abreast of what's going on in other areas. Normally that's not an issue, but when that's like half of the text...it starts to wear on you a little bit.
There were a lot of questions about various items and systems in the first book that were left pretty unanswered. A lot was just placed before the reader without much in the way of explanation, and you were left assuming that it'd be filled in later on in the series. It is nice to see that TBK tries to tackle a couple of these things, though it definitely does end up adding in a few new problems of similar nature. There are mythology and magic mechanics things that just don't really seem to make sense, and once again you're left wondering if Weeks is going to tie everything together in a cohesive manner in a later book, or if it's just going to be snipped off prematurely, as if the author realized "oh...yeah, that actually doesn't make any sense whatsoever, let me take care of that."
Ultimately, I like TBK, and I like it more than TBP. I think the innovation is still there, and that there are some really cool scenes in the book. It still leaves me wanting more, which is definitely a plus. We were all a little underwhelmed with some of the later offerings from the Night Angel series, so it's really really good to see that Weeks is managing to follow up a book with a strong sequel that makes a compelling case for spending some money as opposed to just giving up on the series.
If you liked The Black Prism at all, I highly recommend The Blinding Knife. It's not in any "Must Read" status for me, even so, but it is definitely worth your time if you need something to tide you over until A Memory of Light comes out.
As a Sequel: 7/9
Stand Alone: 6/9
Verdict: Buy it, no need to library or mass market paperback this one.
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