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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.


Reading roundup – July 22nd 2016

ARC of Blood for BloodAs you will see from my picture, I got my hands on a copy of Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin!  This is the sequel to Wolf by Wolf which I adored.  You can read my review.  Those of you who follow my blog will know that I missed out on this one at BEA in Chicago, and that it was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016.  Hachette Canada was kind enough to send me an Advanced Reader Copy.  Thank you soooooo much.  Expect me to share my thoughts on it over the next week or two.  Blood for Blood will be released on November 1st 2016.

More exciting news, this time from the world of audiobooks.  Brent Weeks announced this week that Simon Vance has recorded The Black Prism, the first book in Weeks’ Lightbringer series.  It was originally recorded by Cristofer Jean, and Vance took over narration duties from book two, The Blinding Knife.  Now, no disrespect to Mr. Jean, but this is Simon Vance we’re talking about.  Winner of multiple Audies and other awards and a damn good narrator.  I personally credit Brent Weeks and Simon Vance for my love of audiobooks.  When listening to The Blinding Knife (first in the series narrated by Vance) I kept getting strange looks from my husband for snickering out loud at Vance’s narration of some of Kip’s quips.  

For those of you on the fence about audiobooks, I can’t recommend this series highly enough, especially now that Simon Vance is narrating the whole series.  His narration of The Black Prism is now available from Audible.  

This week I finished Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – you can check out my review if you’re interested.  I picked up the sequel, Ice Like Fire, from the library and it’s next on my reading stand.  Or, at least, it was until Blood for Blood arrived on my doorstep!

The second book I finished was Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives.  I found myself really drawn into this world – expect a full review next week – and I’m very happy I have the Advanced Reader copy of the sequel, The Poisoned Blade.  As I don’t have audiobook versions of Blood for Blood or Ice Like Fire, I am listening to Cold Fire, the second in Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy.

In non reading news, I have finally 100% completed Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens!  Yay!  Now I can finally get back to reading. 

That’s all for this week folks – see you again next week.

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


So many books… so little time

It always seems to happen this way. I’d placed holds on three library e-books and all three became available within a few days of each other!

On my reading list I now have:

Harry Potter et les Reliques de la Mort by J.K. Rowling. (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in French). For some reason it really amuses me to see how the Potter-specific terms were translated into French; “Muggle” becomes “Moldu”, “Squib” becomes “Cracmol” and “Crumple-Horned Snorkack” becomes “Ronflak Cornu.” However, Quidditch remains Quidditch.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. I think this was a recommendation I picked up from GoodReads. I don’t know much about it, other than that it’s a well written memoir by a Pulitzer prize winning author but it seemed an interesting read. It was free to borrow from the library, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Rapture by Kate Lauren. This is the fourth and final part of Lauren’s Young Adult fantasy series about angels and demons. It’s not the best series in the world, and probably not one I’ll invest in to buy, but again, I don’t mind borrowing it from the library to see how it ends.

Other than library books I have several other books I’m planning to read:

Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson. Tor/McMillan has been kind enough to agree to send me a review copy of this book, which I’m expecting in the mail shortly. This sounds an interesting premise, so I’m grateful to the publisher for giving me the chance to review it for you all.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I picked this up from a Twitter recommendation by one of my favourite YA authors, Rick Riordan. I’ve not finished it yet because my library holds became available. To be honest, although the idea behind the story seems interesting (a world without women, where everyone can hear your thoughts!) it’s not grabbed me as much as I thought it would. That being said, I suspect that is more due to personal taste rather than any defect in the book itself.

No Place on Earth by Christa Wolf. I have just placed my order with Chapters for this book. I’m planning to read it as the first book in my attempt on The Guardian’s Most Difficult Books challenge. Although this is not on the list, this is my own personal Everest; having fought tooth and nail with the darned thing at university I’m determined to read it again.

Le Journal d’Onyx: Chevaliers d’Emeraude Book 6 by Anne Robillard. This is the continuation of Mme Robillard’s epic fantasy saga and the only reason I’ve not read this already is because I’m savouring the pleasure of waiting. I’m also impatiently waiting for Wellan Inc to release the second book in Robillard’s contemporary fantasy series A.N.G.E. in e-book format; I adored the first one, and Robillard has easily become one of my favourite authors. Expect a full blog post on her work at some point.

La Croix de Lucifer Book I by Dany Desjean. While travelling on the métro this morning I came across a poster advertising this new series which seemed to be in a similar vein to Robillard’s A.N.G.E. series so I think I’ll check it out while waiting.

Speaking of Quebecois literature, I found an excellent site to purchase ebooks: http://www.ruedeslibraires.com. It seems to be really fast on the ball when it comes to new releases. I’ve found Robillard’s books there weeks before Archambault or any other site. I’m certainly glad I held onto my Kobo as well as my Kindle, as Amazon really doesn’t do French language books well in Canada, and the Kobo allows me to read the books from the library and these other resources.

Next month I have two pre-orders which will download to my Kindle. The first is The Blinding Knife, the second book in Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series. I enjoyed the first one and he left it on a real cliffhanger, so I’m keen to see where it goes. The second pre-order is for the new adult novel by J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy. I’m keen to know if Rowling’s light, easy style and storytelling ability will translate to adult literature. Mind you, I think I’ve seen more adults than children reading Harry Potter!

I have eight days off work just now, so we’ll see how far I get through this list. Sigh I could get through it so much more quickly if life (and my Wicked obsession) didn’t get in the way…


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