So...I've finished Book 4.
What a journey! Karris' decisions as the White and her inner checklist of things to do were awesome to read about. I didn't like Karris both as a character and how she was written in most of the previous three books - too much emphasis on how 'bad-ass' she supposedly was but delivering little, too much emphasis on how perfect in almost every way she's supposed to be, and treating Gavin and Kip pretty poorly. However in this Book she really comes to her own and finally lives up to the reverence the other characters always seem to give her. I loved the scene where she gets tired of Andross' shit, knocks him over and holds him at knife-point. Her looking out at Gavin's boat right as she writes him off for dead was tragic in a good that's-so-sad way, not in a bad omg-why-don't-you-just-find-him way.
Teia getting further and further embroiled in the Broken Eye was gut-wrenching. It was so frustrating when she didn't get to report to Karris for so much of the early part of the book! We can see how she struggles with her orders and her morals as she's ordered to kill innocents and not-so-innocents. Her killing of the Nuqaba is the first time that her character was truly scary to me. Denouncing the Nuqaba to hell, letting her life-blood gush out of her wrists, making sure that the Nuqaba had absolutely no control over her own body all while staring her in the eyes was chilling. Despite all her justifications on doing it, Teia's actions have irrevocably changed her. One thing I liked about Teia's arc was while her relationship with Kip was definitely still hanging around her, aside from her first few chapters she doesn't think too much about it. She left the Mighty at the end of The Broken Eye to do her job, and that's just what she does. It will be very interesting to see how she brings down (or attempts to bring down) the Broken Eye in the final book - she has done a pretty good job of getting them to underestimate her so far.
Kip and the Mighty's storyline was very fun to read. While Kip has still has the self-doubt and self-hate that is part of his character, actions speak louder than words and his actions as both a commander and a warrior in this book are of a true hero. Kip has grown so much since the beginning of the series. At this point, is I doubt he's even overweight at all and it's all in his head. There's no way a anyone can go through a year of Blackguard training, get almost starved to death and then fight a battle for a year and still be fat. We can also really see Kip's Guile-ness when he deals with the Council of Divines. He doesn't just take charge, he throws his power around, he humiliates, he takes total control. I could easily see Gavin or Andross do something similar, so amazing character building there. One thing I also really, really like is Kip realising that his infatuations with various women have been very short-lived. He realises that while his bond with Teia was strong, it was in the end not for a very long time and comparable to his obsessions over Liv and Isa. He wasn't bound to Teia at all.
The relationship between Tisis and Kip was obviously a focal point of the novel. A lot of time was spent on it. This was one of the biggest surprises of the novel to me, I thought that Kip ending up with Teia was a certainty, with Tisis travelling alone to Ruthgar. And honestly, it was worth it. Kip and Tisis' relationship was one the most well-developed and life-like relationships I've ever read. The beginning was so incredibly cringey and awkward from both of them, while at the end they feel so comfortable with each other. I felt like shouting at Kip for being so oblivious when he was working on that rope-spear which was so obviously a symbol of his feelings for Teia, the only rope-spear user he knows. I'm a little bit confused as to how Tisis knew that Teia uses a rope-spear...I actually went back to the previous book and couldn't find any scene where Tisis see's Teia's rope-spear? Anyway, when Tisis' problem is finally fixed and they consummate the marriage a year late it was a very tender moment. Drawing out the problem all the way to the very last chapter of the novel was a little frustrating though, I would have liked to see Kip and Tisis work together for a bit after that final hurdle is cleared. Although maybe that was the point - to see a working and loving relationship between a man and a woman without explicit sex. I'll admit that I was very confused when Kip refers to them 'making love' a few times without mentioning that the problem was fixed. I can't wait to see them work together in the final book. Tisis and Teia's reactions to each other when they inevitably meet is also going to be very interesting.
Gavin's imprisonment answered many questions but I seeded so many new questions too. We finally got some confirmation that the Blinding Knife creates Prisms. However who exactly knows what the Blinding Knife does and how Prisms are made? How did a Black Drafter somehow become a Prism? If Koios is a black drafter how come he isn't a Prism? What exactly are the properties of Black Luxin? This one is so incredibly frustrating to me. While there are many mysteries hinted at in the novel like Immortals, origins of magic and White Luxin, Black Luxin is the one that everyone seems to know about but we as the readers never get to find out. All the knowledgable people conveniently hold back their information even though there isn't too much of a reason for them to do so. Andross literally says he's an expert on the matter and then says 'he doesn't have time for a lecture'? Argh! Really annoying. Away from that, who are the 'dead men'? Did Dazen really imprison Gavin and the dead men are lying, or did Dazen imagine the whole thing? There is something nefarious going on here. Dazen's struggle with his past as well has his relationship with his Father was very well done. Dazen's story is so full of twists and turns I have absolutely no idea what he's going to do in the next book.
So what do we know about Black Luxin? It's connected to memory loss, but how does that memory loss work? Does the act of drafting it instantly remove random memories, or do you have control over if and which memories you lose? It is constantly connected to madness, and it does seem like the two drafters we know about, Dazen and Koios are a little insane. But is that 'madness' just another way of discussing the memory loss? Black Luxin has something to do with stealing powers, but how? Does the victim have to die, and if so how must the victim be killed? How did Dazen become a Prism? What is the difference between 'living' and 'dead' Black Luxin, if there even is one? Why is Koios is using Black Luxin in his slave-necklaces and not any other colour?
The Blinding Knife
What does the Blinding Knife really do? We got confirmation on it making Prisms, but how? It can't be true that only a Prism can survive being stabbed with it, because Andross survived and he seems to have benefitted from it. What does getting stabbed by it actually do? It sapped Gavin of his colour-sight and his drafting, but stabbing Andross actually removed his wight-ness. In fact, did it give Andross the ability to draft super-violet? If so how it determine when to give power and when to take it away? Is it's original purpose to return colour wights back into drafters, by removing the excess Luxin or whatever happens to wights when they break the halo? It does seem like the ceremony of the Freeing should be done by using the Blinding Knife, instead of a normal knife. If the Blinding Knife can only be used by a Prism, how come both Zymun and Kip managed to use it? Does it do different things when used by a drafter compared to being used by a Prism? The Blinding Knife has Black Luxin in it, but also a lot of White Luxin - that has to have something to do with how it works, but how? How does it keep changing shape?
The Dead Men and Dazen's brother
How much of what the Dead Men told Dazen is true? If they lied why are they lying to him? It seems ridiculous that so much time be spent on Gavin's exploits in the first two books only for him to be a figment of Dazen's imagination. I always thought it was unbelievable that Gavin could survive sixteen years in a cell by himself with nothing to do and not go completely insane, but attributed that to the fact that Gavin was a person with incredible mental fortitude. The sheer amount of time spent on Gavin' character in the first two books leads me to believe that the Dead Men are lying. If the Dead Men are lying about that, then what else are they lying about? Are they truly Dazen will-casting his personality on Luxin? That seems unbelievable and nothing like the will-casting we were introduced to in Kip's Arc. Did Dazen really kill the White Oak brothers on purpose to steal their powers? Dazen seems like a good person both now and in childhood, something collaborated by both his mother and father, so it seems unlikely he would do such an evil thing on purpose. What, then, is the purpose of the Dead Men? In the final chapters Grinwoody mentions something terrible living under the Chromeria, which fits the Dead Men. The one in the Black cell does certainly seem strange, since we can't see it, it has a different personality and spoke in a weird-ass language that apparently can't be expressed phonetically. If the Black Dead Man is different, does that mean the rest of them are actually what they say they are? Even if they are what they say they are, couldn't they be lying anyway, since their purpose was to drive the prisoner mad? So many questions!
Woah, a long post and it's been a while since I lurked these forums. I loved this novel!
The hard part is that Gavin(Dazen) still has no idea he DID draft white. The only ones who knew where the old White and Iron Fist.
All Gavin has is that tiny hint that he has picked up from his dreams(delusions?) that show a white spark in his heart but he does not have the certainty that proof would lend.
With Orea dead and Iron Fist setting himself up as a King in his country, it will be interesting to see how it comes back around.
About kips story arc it seems to me mr.weeks had made a choice to not to write extensive battles and if you observe brent weeks never did write extensive battles and wars . even in night angel series . yes there is some combat and few battles but if you observe he stresses more human part of the battle than on tactics , strategy and logistics and i think its because he is not that kind of author , he knows he is no steven erikson or robert jordan so he plays to his strengths and leaves these other parts alone . so he did the best he could , showing kips emotional maturity ,self control and leadership qualities as well as his intelligence and some self awareness . yes mr.weeks does write some good combat scenes , but his true excellence lies in his ability to portray human emotions and skillful story telling .