Author: Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks – Review

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks – ReviewThe Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks
Series: The Lightbringer #4
Also in this series: The Broken Eye
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Simon Vance
Length: 20 hrs and 30 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks is the fourth in a planned series of five epic fantasy books.  The series has a wonderfully imaginative magic system in which magic users can turn light into a physical substance. luxin.  Each spectrum of light (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) produces luxin with different properties and uses.  If you’ve not yet started this series, I heartily recommend it.  Go start with The Black Prism.  I strongly suggest experiencing this series in audiobook format due to the excellence of the narrator, Simon Vance.

Initially, the series was planned to be a trilogy; then four books and recently Weeks announced he would need five books to tie up his series.  The Blood Mirror is the penultimate entry and sets up things for the finale.

What I liked

The romance.  While it is not a focal point of the series or book, there is a love story in The Blood Mirror and it is beautiful.  It focusses on that very first serious/sexual relationship in which a character must learn to love another real life person, warts and all, and not just a fantasy crush.  Our protagonist’s learning to accept his partner, emotions, needs, strengths and all was so perfectly written it was a joy to read. This was one of the real highlights of the book for me. Of course it helped that the partner concerned is a pretty awesome, kick ass new character in her own right.  I am 100% on board this new ship.

Gavin’s storyline.  One of Weeks’ strengths as a writer is an ability to pull the rug out from under his reader’s feet, and Gavin’s story arc in this book is no exception.  This particular storyline is intended to leave the reader wondering what is truth, what is madness and what is manipulation and it succeeds perfectly.  This was also the storyline where I found myself thinking “ah, crap he’s really going to to go there, isn’t he?”  While it’s not confirmed in this book, it definitely looks like he will go there in the final book.  Darn.

Strong female characters.  The Blood Mirror gives us some amazing, strong female characters.   I loved reading about Tisis, Karris and Teia and look forward to reading (or listening) how their characters progress in the final book.

 What I didn’t like

Some characters merely treading water.  In certain ways some key characters in The Blood Mirror suffer from Daenerys Targaryen syndrome in that their storylines aren’t ready to progress yet until other characters have progressed.  This means that they do very little in this book other than pop up to remind us of their existence from time to time.

Kip’s character arc.  One of my pet peeves in YA literature is when the protagonist becomes an expert at something just because he or she is the protagonist, it suits the story and without doing the necessary groundwork.  For me Kip’s development wasn’t setup satisfactorily enough.  

Despite these minor flaws, I gave The Blood Mirror five stars out of five.  I am highly anticipating the conclusion of the story, although I confess to some anxiety that it’s going to be a traumatic read, having seen what Weeks has set up.

five-stars

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2
Also in this series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Khristine Hvam
Length: 15 hrs and 21 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

First of all, may I just say isn’t this the most gorgeous cover art?  I’m not certain who created them, but all three covers (four if you include the novella) in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series are simply stunning.

Days of Blood and Starlight is the second in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy which is a contemporary fantasy based on the themes of Romeo and Juliet.  We have the star-crossed lovers from different and opposing sides, faked death, boyfriend goes off the rails.  This second instalment is based on the premise of “what if Juliet woke up from her fake death and found, not that Romeo had taken his own life, but that he’d killed all her family and friends?”  

What I liked

The world.  The world that Taylor has created is wonderfully rich and detailed.  I loved reading about the chimaera and seraphim.  We learn more about their world in this book.  

The themes.  The idea of star-crossed lovers is a timeless one.  There is a reason that Romeo and Juliet is a classic, and Taylor has done a great job of interpreting that into modern fantasy.  Add into this the theme of war and peace and you have a wonderful framework for a story.

The characters.  It is very easy to become invested in Karou and Akiva and root for them.  They are likeable, engaging and you feel for their plight.  The supporting characters are also great.  Zuzana and Mik add some much-needed levity to the story.

The writing style.  Taylor’s writing style is poetic and lyrical and is beautiful to read.  Go check it out.

The audio narration.  Once again, Khristine Hvam did a wonderful job – I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of Zuze and Mik.  I really should check out the Zuzana/Mik short story Night of Cake and Puppets also narrated by Hvam.

What I didn’t like

It has to be said, I didn’t enjoy Days of Blood and Starlight as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I found it a little too… depressing.  After the events of Daughter of Smoke and Bone neither of our protagonists are in a good place emotionally and when you add to that the escalation of the war between the chimaera and the seraphim it doesn’t make fun reading.  Thank goodness for Zuze and Mik!

Because of this, I gave Days of Blood and Starlight three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs tells the story of 16 year old Jacob Portman and his fascination for his grandfather’s stories of the Home for Peculiar Children in which he grew up.  This institute is home to children who have special abilities and the novel explores what happens when Jacob goes looking for this place after a family tragedy.

What I liked

The concept.  I understand the author, Ransom Riggs, has had for many years a hobby of collecting unusual – read creepy – photos and he developed the novel around a selection of them.  Riggs has done an amazing job of connecting a set of unrelated photos and weaving a darned good narrative out of them.  It should be noted, for those of you thinking of picking up the Audible audiobook, that a PDF is provided with the photos in the book.

The characters.  I liked Jacob, his grandfather and the other characters they meet, especially the Peculiars.  

What I didn’t like

The creep factor.  Some of the photos are downright creepy and the Hollowgast with their tentacles for mouths – ew.  These registered just a little too highly on my creeped out factor.

The audio narration.  I really did not enjoy the audio narration.  Much of the book is set in my country of origin, the UK, and the narrator’s attempt at a British/Welsh accent was, to be kind, all over the place.  This really threw me out of the story on multiple occasions.

Although I will check out the sequel, Hollow City, at some point, I gave Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Series: Night Angel #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 8 hrs
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

This week I dipped into the Graphic Audio production of Brent Weeks’ Way of Shadows.  Graphic Audio’s tagline is “A Move in Your Mind” and I can see why they call it that.  Their productions are enhanced audiobooks in that they include music, sound effects and a full voice cast.  It should be noted that the text isn’t quite a faithful reproduction of the original as a normal audiobook; for example where the narrator would say “it was a dark and stormy night…” instead of the text you’d hear sound effects for thunder and lightning.  

Graphic Audio productions are also a little more expensive than audiobooks, especially if you use Audible credits.  I can appreciate though that the production costs are likely higher.

For me, personally, I found the sound effects and music almost too overwhelming.  I’m a text purist and I like to hear the author’s words as written.  Having said that, I did enjoy the Graphic Audio experience and will probably pick up the rest of the Night Angel series in this format. 

That’s all I have for today.  Have a good week!

three-half-stars

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks – Review

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks – ReviewThe Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
Series: The Lightbringer #3
Also in this series: The Blood Mirror
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Simon Vance
Length: 29 hrs and 33 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks is the third and penultimate in his Lightbringer series following on from The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife.  It continues the story of Prism Gavin Guile and his illegitimate son Kip and their attempt to stop the Seven Satrapies from collapsing under the pressure of the Color Prince and his new gods.

My impression of this book was that it was very much a middle book – concentrating more on positioning the characters for the final assault.  It concentrated more on character development than moving the plot forward.  While there were a couple of eyebrow raising moments for me, but nothing compared to the couple of WTF?!? moments of the previous books.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.

What I liked

The magic system.  For this series Weeks has created a wonderfully developed magic system.  I usually consider Brandon Sanderson the master of magic system development, but with this colour-based system Weeks could give him a run for his money.  In essence, Weeks’ magic system works in the opposite manner to a candle.  A candle takes a physical substance – wax – and converts it into light.  Weeks’ magic users (drafters) can take light and convert it into a physical substance, luxin.  Different drafters can convert different colours of the spectrum, red, green, ultraviolet etc – and each colour of luxin so produced has different properties.

Like any good magic system, it has clear limitations.  Drafters need to be able to see the colour they draft.  In Weeks’ world, you can cripple a drafter by limiting his or her access to that colour.  Additionally, it is believed that drafters can only draft a finite amount of luxin in their lives before they “break the halo” and become dangerously emotionally unstable.  This means they must give serious thought before using their magic.    Although drafters can create luxin, that luxin subject to normal physical laws.  More skillfully drafted luxin is stronger and more stable, but lack of skill can be compensated for by amount of luxin drafted.

The character development.  There is some great character development in this book.  Without going into spoiler territory, Kip, Karris and Teia are all becoming the people it looks as though they will need to be for the final book.  On the other hand, Gavin’s character arc has hit rock bottom.  In a standard fantasy, that would mean that his fate is going to take a large upswing.  However, this is a Brent Weeks series we’re talking about here; anything thing could happen.

Setup for final book.  It’s actually really clever that we’re three books into a four book series and Weeks could still go anywhere with his storyline.  That makes it wonderful for speculation.

The narration.  The audiobooks of The Blinding Knife and The Broken Eye were narrated by Simon Vance.  The combination of Weeks’ witty writing style and Vance’s narration is pure gold.  I just ADORED the narration.  In fact, Vance’s narration of book two, The Blinding Knife, was a major factor in my becoming so hooked on audiobooks.  If you’re thinking of checking out this way of enjoying books, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Vance and Weeks.

What I didn’t like

Spot the antagonist. A fantasy series needs a strong villain, and we saw very little of the Color Prince in this volume.  I’m going out on a limb here and assuming the Color Prince is the series’ big bad.  That’s by no means certain when you’re talking about a Brent Weeks series.  The antagonist role in The Broken Eye was played by Andross Guile and for Teia Murder Sharp.  Don’t get me wrong; they’re both nasty pieces of work, but they both operate primarily on the mundane plane.  When you’re getting into territory of new gods being born, you need an antagonist operating in the same sphere.  In some cases it could also be said that the characters’ biggest challenge was their own emotional baggage.  That is fascinating in terms of character development, but less so to create dramatic tension.

In summary then, I would recommend the Lightbringer series – especially in audiobook format.  I gave this particular volume, The Broken Eye, four stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

four-stars
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