In a lot of fantasy series, the 2nd-to-last book is usually the weakest one. Most of the time, it’s more of a preamble for the final book than its own thing. That was not 100% the case with The Blood Mirror. While it does heavily focus on setting up the 5th and final book, it’s not boring. There’s not as much pause in the drama and action as expected. Yes, (some) characters focus mainly on making plans and putting them in motion but there’s a war on; everything can’t just go on pause. And with the characters as scattered as they are at this point, who’s where and doing what is a major element in The Blood Mirror.
So, we’ll start with arguably the main character, Kip. Clearly the person who’s had the most character development in this series. He’s gone from a smart but unwise village boy to an accomplished military leader. And it actually works. His plot (mostly) doesn’t feel contrived and it very easily could have. Of course, now he has Tisis to balance him out a bit and she steps up a lot after being relatively undeveloped in the last book. Their relationship seems kind of forced but fits everything else well enough that it can be looked over.
Gavin…well, if you remember how he spent the last book it’s more of the same here. His contributions to the story are more about the past than the present. This helps but considering where Gavin started, the shift in his role has been almost the opposite of Kip’s. Maybe that was the point.
Karris, like Gavin, is delegated to “keep doing what you were doing” in The Blood Mirror. Her storyline marches forward at a slow and steady pace. Although she does get a few cool moments, namely the points where she interacts with Teia.
And on that note, Teia. Oh, my goodness, poor Teia. Her storyline has probably become my favorite in this series. It’s so refreshing to see a character brought in after book 1 who becomes central to everything. The things she has done and keeps doing have far greater consequences than this young woman could have ever imagined. Consequences that will change her forever as she further explores the web she’s caught in.
Polar opposite to Teia, even more so than how Gavin sort of reflects Kip, is Liv. She really seemed like the female lead way back in book 1. And it kind of feels like Brent Weeks just suddenly decided, “Nah” and popped Teia in as Liv’s replacement. Liv’s whole Join The Dark Side story would feel a lot more impactful if she’d actually done stuff before switching teams.
Anyway, everyone spends the whole book moving their pieces into place for their final game. And no one is going to play fair. With one book left, it’ll be fun to see who’s left standing and who ultimately wins by the end.