Wednesday, January 25, 2017

“The Blood Mirror” by Brent Weeks – Save the Rotten Empire

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

Brent Weeks Powers On

Brent Weeks brought us the Lightbringer series a few years ago, and at the start it was supposed to be a trilogy. However, as is likely to happen with successful science-fiction series, Weeks chose to extend the story beyond what he had originally planned, and at the moment there are supposed to be five books to it... until further notice, of course. We've already looked at the other books in the trilogy (The Black Prism , The Blinding Knife and The Broken Eye) and so I'm not going to spend too much time talking about the kind of world we're being thrown into, but for the more forgetful ones among us, here's a brief recap of what the whole thing is about.

The universe created by Weeks is one where magic and technology merge together, where civilizations battle each other across intergalactic wars involving supremely powerful beings and more deceit, cunning, smoke and mirrors than a Copperfield show. There are many players involved in the plots and stories, but the real main characters are Gavin Guile, a former Prism and emperor, and his bastard son, Kip. Any how, let us go further into what this book has in store for us.

Desperation Mounts

As the book starts things are in a pretty dire shape all over the place, with the White King having taken down three of the Seven Satrapies, and the remaining four are poised to follow in their footsteps. He is a threat to virtually everyone in the universe, and his army only keeps bolstering its ranks with more fresh and eager recruits. Kip Guile knows the situation is snowballing into uncontrollable territory, and if nothing is done to at least stagnate the indomitable horde everyone will feel its wrath.

While Kip is fighting his unwinnable battle against a merciless opponent, Gavin Guile has run into some troubles of his own. The fake version of himself has imprisoned the real Gavin in a magical prison that he actually crafted himself years ago as a place where even the most powerful of beings could be locked up. He is broken, weakened, lonely, and without his beloved magical powers that helped him get out of a few jams... and what's worse, some dark and well-kept secrets are about to be rained down on him.

Finally, there are Karris White and Andross Guile who are doing their best to keep the empire from falling apart into ruins like a house of cards, frantically scrambling to maintain some semblance of solidity. However, internal tensions run as high as external ones, and Karris knows that Andross, despite being her father-in-law, is far from being a figure she can put her trust in... it's less a question of whether he'll betray her, but more about when it will happen.

Creativity in Spades

While I do understand that some of you aren't exactly thrilled when authors try to stretch their stories out beyond what was anticipated (I'm part of that crowd myself), in this case Brent Weeks masterfully avoids all the pitfalls that come with extending a book series. There is very little fluff and filler to speak of with the action constantly moving forward and bringing us new and exciting developments that throw the story into unexpected directions. It shows that the author really put in all of his effort into giving this book a soul of its own and justify its addition to the series. The lore of the world remains as enticing as ever, with Weeks expanding on many subjects and characters that left room for development in previous books.

This is particularly noticeable with Kip's first-person chapters that felt somewhat questionable in the earlier books. His lack of development and maturity as a person made his thoughts somewhat cringe-worthy to read in the previous novels, but in this one he seems to grow quite considerably and formulate thoughts that grab your interest rather than make you roll your eyes. Additionally, his relationship with Tisis is also developed in a very believable and relatable way, perhaps being the most remarkable dynamic between two characters in this novel.

When it comes to the actual quality of the writing, Weeks seems to be slowly improving from his previous books, with the imbalance between good and bad moments becoming less and less noticeable (not that it was big in the first place). Particularly, Weeks has been having a problem with inner monologues, having a tendency to make them far too long, obvious and overly specific, as if the reader needed to be spoon-fed every single detail. While this problem still persists, it's less egregious than it was before. Apart from that, his writing is quite diverse, fluent and accurate; it's very easy on the eyes and the brain alike. Additionally, when it comes to writing a page, or even a paragraph that will deeply move the reader, Weeks can be considered a real specialist.

On the other hand, the tone and structure of the book are a little all over the place at times. For instance, some scenes will instantly switch for juvenile humour to drama to freshman-level philosophy without really adding anything to the story. Also, some of the plots and chapters are a bit mistimed, in the sense that some of them are playing catchup with the others. For example, when Gavin's story is ready to progress, Kip's is still ongoing, meaning that chapters about the former become shorter and sparser.

Some Parting Words

If you've already read the previous books in the series and liked them, then I guarantee that you will want to pick this one up as you'll enjoy it quite a bit, perhaps even more than some of the antecedent entries. There's not much filler at all, the plot progresses enjoyably and what's more, the end doesn't have a weak and rage-inducing cliffhanger. While there are definitely a few negative aspects they aren't nearly noticeable enough to stop you from enjoying the book in its entirety. Besides, us Brent Weeks fans have come to learn that with this author, it's better to just accept the smooth and the rough as they come; his imagination is rich and endearing, it's just that his execution slightly falters at times. I can't help but recommend this book to fans of the series and Brent Weeks' writing in general to those who are into science-fiction.

Brent Weeks (March 7, 1977)

Brent Weeks (March 7, 1977)

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Brent Weeks is an American writer of fantasy novels who managed to squeeze into The New York Times Best Seller List with his novel The Blinding Knife in 2012. So far he has authored two book series, Night Angel and Lightbringer, as well as a short fiction story titled "Perfect Shadow".

More of the Brent Weeks' book reviews:
The Black Prism
The Blinding Knife
The Broken Eye

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