Brent Weeks, how I love thee. Let me count the ways…
Oh wait. This is only a review, not a manifesto. Right. Then I suppose I’ll just stick to singing the praises of The Broken Eye, the third book in the Lightbringer series.
As an obsessive fangirl a devoted follower of Weeks’ work, I’m used to break-neck pacing leaving me breathless. So I was a little unsettled in the first quarter of the book when the pacing was- well- normal. In normal terms, it was moving along nicely. For a Weeks book, it was going slow and I was starting to get antsy when the story suddenly started racing! And there was sabotage and fighting and magic and pirates and then I got to the end, panting and feverish and wanting more. Curse you, Weeks, for your addictive, endorphin-inducing prose! Seriously, just thinking about the rush is making my pulse quicken.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Lightbringer series- set to be a four-book series- it’s a fantasy set in a 17th century world where some of its citizenry are blessed with the gift of Chromaturgy (the art of harnessing light and creating a substance from it, called Luxin). The story follows Gavin Guile, the “Prism” and most powerful man in the world, and Kip, a kid- well, a teenager- from the poorest of seven satrapies. Gavin is trying to save the world while hiding a ruinous secret (which he literally keeps locked in the darkest depths), while Kip is trying to survive after being thrown into the deep end of dangerous Chromeria politics (like Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic all rolled into one, complete with novelty elevator). They both end up with their lives on the line in a battle against the mysterious Color Prince, who has risen to power amongst a rebel faction. And that’s all I can say without getting spoilerific, so go read the first two books while the rest of us plunge on through the review.
Since it’s been two years since the last book came out, and the world is so complex- with both a detailed magic system and a snarled web of political intrigue- it took a moment to remember some of the names and references, and I had to peek at the glossary and appendix a few times. But then again, there’s a convenient glossary and appendix for you to refer to, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out what was going on.
At the end of The Blinding Knife– the second book in the series- things for both Kip and Gavin were looking grim. Kip was trapped on a boat- too weak to draft- with his sociopath half-brother Zymun, and Gavin was trapped on a boat- colorblind and powerless- with the psychotic pirate, Gunner. Everyone else was still disoriented from the battle and Liv still wasn’t dead. (I’m not the only one who totally wants to see her die, right?) From there, things are bleak and tense, and there is no cavalry rushing to the rescue for either Kip or Gavin since they’re both assumed dead. While each of them are languishing in their nautical prisons, Karris and Teia are gaining power and taking on bigger roles in the story. And I was just as captivated with the ladies’ storylines as I was with Gavin or Kip’s. Unlike Liv chapters, where I simply wonder why I must suffer her continued existence. (I did mention I hate her and want her to die, right?) Though, the fact that I can so vehemently hate a character is only further credit to Weeks’ story-crafting ability.
For the first two books of this series, I’ve been a Gavin fangirl and only cared about Kip secondarily. This book completely changed that. Within the first few chapters I became equally invested in Kip and by the end of the book, I was thoroughly worried about all the characters. Except Liv. (Have I mentioned that I hate Liv?) Broken Eye pushes all the characters to the extreme and no one ends up where you could ever have predicted. Just when you think you’ve figured out everything, there’s a left turn, and then an epic fight scene, and then an out of body experience, so you never know what’s going to happen next. Alternative titles could have been The Devastating Ruination of Gavin Guile (which doesn’t even serve justice to the awful that happens to that man). Or The Curious Ascension of Kip Guile (which also doesn’t serve to convey the insanity that ensues). Or even The Chromeria: Corrupt Politics and Condoned Injustice (which merely hints at the twisted tangle of deviousness that takes place).
I could go on, but again, review, not manifesto. So now I wait with baited breath for the conclusion to the series, The Blood Mirror, due out next year. The only down side to this series is having to wait for the next installment.
The Broken Eye is available from Orbit, an imprint of Hachette. You can pre-order it here. Or check out Orbit’s site for a list of retailers and information on this and other Brent Weeks titles. (Such as that fantastic Night Angel Trilogy.)