Monday, October 1, 2012

The Blinding Knife Review

So I’m about here:
The Blinding Knife was light and fluffy fantasy that took its magic system too seriously.

What a disappointment. The Blinding Knife reversed every single thing I liked about Weeks’s writing. Yeah, my expectations were high. Plus I felt I was doing Weeks a favor by forgiving his slides into melodrama. So there’s betrayal mixed in this. Here is where Mr. Weeks swerved off course, in my estimation.

The Villains were way too safe. The chief two, Andross Guile and The Color Prince, both feel like the exact same character to begin with. There’s just so much effort put into buffing their reputations that their weak actions seem even more pathetic. You can’t keep saying “these guys are meticulous planners who have been scheming years!” then have a 15 year old fat kid come in stupid and half-cocked, yet still beat every challenge and not have them look like idiots. It seems like they want to fail. Never mind the motivation of each boils down to “the author needs me to do it”, all they end up accomplishing is making the heroes look kinda good for a minute.

In general, too, everything comes too easy for Kip Guile, the Hero. In all of the Brent Week’s other books, even the first book of this series, the hero had to pay a high price for anything they wanted. Now this kid can’t even fuck up without getting what he wanted. How does it make sense to build Kip as the Fat Kid who Can’t Do Anything Right then have him run for days, learn an incredible complex game in a month (and beat a master of said game), beat other kids who have been training their whole lives as fighters casually, and still able to summon impossible magic to bail himself out of any situation with no training in it? There are more Outs then possible problems.  It made all of the action of the book tedious. I got more invested in the relationships of characters as a consequence. Looking for something dynamic. Even there though, everybody loves the heroes. Everything is forgiven. Say something stupid? Turns out it was funny, charming, and makes everyone like you more. Girl pissed at you for 16 years? Your mom will talk to her for 10 minutes and it’ll be all better.

The magic system was more than adequately explained in the first book. There was a chapter where a character went through an actual lesson plan. It was just block paragraphs treating this shit as real. I guess Weeks got some criticism on that as there are great pains put into covering any instance of new magic in the book. That pain was transferred to the reader. History and possible uses and whatever the rest of the whole fucking world thinks of people who use it and how it affects people who use it and ties to old gods… Jesus H the whole “dialogue” about the invisible color (I forget the name and a quick Google search yields nothing. Starts with a P) was a chore to get through. A disposable character was brought in to say “this shit is super mysterious and maybe super deadly. Don’t tell anyone about it because this book is dry as fuck”. I’m pretty sure that quote is verbatim but I don’t know the page number. So in the end, I got pages of teasing about something that doesn’t matter.

The “ending” was complete shit. On every single level an ending exists on, this one festered on the bottom most plane with a stink that’ll stay with you for a few days. First off, the “final battle” is a joke. Gaven kills one of these “gods” a few days earlier, single-handedly. Now he’s got an army and it’s more exciting? AT LEAST KIP DOESN’T FALL ON THE GUY WITH AN ALL-POWER ARTIFACT HE CONVIENTLY GOT. Reals? The badguys can be beat by the hero tripping? The author has the gall to drag out this pedestrian battle then throw a whole mess of shit in at the end then end the book like that was a clever cliff-hanger. Cliff-hangers are cheap tricks used by cheap authors. Every single chapter ended with some “but oh no!” that never turned out to be a serious problem. I just feel like the book stopped. Even with the threads that terminated in this book, there was no closure on them. More forgotten.

There are characters that are just distractions, filler. Namely Teia and Gunner. Ok, Teia is a slave for about three weeks before Kip miraculously bails her out in a wild fit of luck so any sympathy and potential for hidden conflict is obliterated quickly. Her power color is largely seen as useless and Weeks spends a great deal of time attempting to justify her inclusion in anything. In vain. Again, soft obstacles are placed in front of her that suspiciously conform to an easy test of abilities she already has. I couldn’t even describe her personality. I don’t think she has one. Gunner is author over-indulgence. Weeks is channeling Melville’s Moby-Dick. Every. Single. Passage. With Gunner was teeth-gnashing frustrating to get through. The idea is fun! He talks to a make-believe (or not) sea Goddess as though they are two old friends who hate each other. But the writing made me violently angry it was so bad. Now he’s gonna be a main character in the next book! Yay! I’m not fucking reading it now.

The parts I did like, and there were enough to keep me going despite all this other stuff I’ve been writing about, all of that gets murdered in this book. Gavin. Ya know, the whole entire actually interesting aspect to this series is killed for no reason. Well, Ok, I mean because Dazen is running out of time!! That’s horseshit. Dazen dealing with his brother was some item on a bucket list. That’s flimsy. Can I get a character that has more motivation than “the author told me to”? But really, story potential is jettisoned for no explained / good reason. That’s tantamount to a felony at least. JANIS BORIG! You made exploring the history of this world a fun, highly engaging, read! So… get killed before a fraction of your potential is used? Though she did lift heavily from Harry Potter. What with legendary magical artifacts (including invisible cloaks) and living other people’s lives in a dream-like manner, and being super powerful but living in some house where anybody could find her. But whatever! Fun is fun and she was that. The lack of context given to her death was insulting to anyone who invested at all in her character (me).

I rolled into this book ready to love it but Brent Weeks worked really hard to convince me not to. Tough to know how much I should hold this against Weeks. He’s still 5 for 6. But in all those other stories, he rubbed hard against disaster (with such unimaginative core stories) , so has he succumbed to bad instincts?


  1. you seem to have expectations that this world needs to be perfect. In all reality Kip does not pass the majority of things that come at him he gets his ass BEAT in blackguard training. I feel like you lightly skimmed over some of the chapters and read a review of the first book. Gavin killed the first bane because he had a prophecy to lead him to it before it perfected itself and awaken. When they had to fight something with the powers akin to a "god" you think hes just going to magically pop it? Kip killed it because of the dagger his mother stole in the first book and had carried until it was taken from him then reacquired during an assassination attempt on his father it did not magically appear to him. I think you need to re read this series as what it is a fantasy book in its own world, not as what you think should happen and be pissed when it does not go the stereotypical way "hero fails, hero discovers hidden strength, hero wins" invisible cloaks did not even originate in harry potter i feel like you just dont care about the book and are looking for shit to bitch about your review annoys me because this book may not be perfect there are plenty of flaws ill admit but god damn you complain about way to much shit.

  2. First, to your point about this being a largely negative review. I'll give you that. I've come at my reviews differently since this one because it doesn't help anybody. In my defense, and as mentioned in the opening, I was really hurt and disappointed in it. Hence the overly emotional tone.

    I don't see how I give off the impression the world needs to be perfect. I really liked, and really read, The Black Prism. My criticism was that it was too easy for the heroes, both Gaven and Kip, in everything they did in this book. That was the majority of my review.

    Sure, I condense events to make my point. Kip didn't always win at first. His first days of Black Guard training were tough. But it seemed token. He very quickly, with minimal effort or planning, turned everything around. It felt cheap. He's set up as a big failure but other than being fat, things just fall in place for him.

    I would much rather prefer more things go wrong for them, in fact! More like the characters in Week's Night Angel series. They had to grapple with choices with no right answers. I'm not attracted to generic fantasy stories. I think Weeks can do way better than what I read here. Again though, I pissed you off with my tone and you're lashing out with inaccurate projections of how I think or feel. How I feel is pretty clear. It's because of the cookie-cutter twists, bland character development, and dull plot.

    The Bane fights were just poorly told. And Kip does just "pop" one with a handy dagger he got in really unimaginative fashion. It was lazy, cliche filled, story telling. Weeks can and has done better.

    I'm not looking for things to complain again. There was a lot I cut from this review. Your leaps into my psyche aren't supported by anything I wrote in the review. It's cool this book worked for you. I just have higher standards for what I'm going to call a good story.