The Burning White (Lightbringer #5)

The Burning White Book Cover The Burning White
Lightbringer
Brent Weeks
Fantasy
Orbit
October 22, 2019
Hardcover
992

In this stunning conclusion to the epic New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series, kingdoms clash as Kip struggles to escape his family's shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves.

Gavin Guile, once the most powerful man the world had ever seen, has been laid low. He's lost his magic, and now he is on a suicide mission. Failure will condemn the woman he loves. Success will condemn his entire empire.
As the White King springs his great traps and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile must gather his forces, rally his allies, and scramble to return for one impossible final stand.

The long-awaited epic conclusion of Brent Weeks's New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series.

 

Like the rest of the Lightbringer series, opinions seem pretty mixed on The Burning White. I, for one, liked it but did not find it perfect. On the positive side, this book was just a strong ending to the series. Strong enough to be satisfying. Endings are often the hardest part of any book/series (coughStephen Kingcough). And while I wouldn’t say The Burning White has a perfect ending, it is satisfactory. Now the flipside of that (and the reason most people seem to have a beef with this book) is a deus ex machina. More on that later.

So, let’s start with the good. And I can’t possibly do the whole book justice in my little review here because of how long it is, but here goes. There are a ton of storylines continuing here from The Blood Mirror. Kip and his crew, Gavin, Karris, Andross, Teia, and more all have things going on. And by the end, the way it all resolves feels good! No one is quite done with their character development when The Burning White starts and they’re all different people by the end of it. This war is a horrible thing, and everyone is forced to make choices affecting their lives and the lives of countless others because of it. Even Andross, magnificent bastard that he is, isn’t the same by the end. Everyone puts their blood, sweat, and tears into ending the war and their world is forever changed once the dust settles.

And then, there’s the elephant in the room: the deus ex machina. I am not using that term in any way figuratively; the story very suddenly goes full theology. Which, conceptually, there isn’t really anything wrong with. But it kind of comes out of left field. It’s one thing to expect a character to get help from God. Something like finding a magic object left lying around or talking to god and getting information are good tools to use here. It’s another thing when God shows up, in person, and starts fixing problems for the characters. And I think a big part of the issue here for many readers is that God, being God, can just kind of do whatever regardless of how the magic system works. Fantasy fans love a well-made magic system, which the Lightbringer series has, and hate seeing that stuff broken.

Now, while the deus ex machina seemed like a bit of a cop-out, it wasn’t a dealbreaker for me. I’m willing to let it slide for the same reasons I’m willing to let the issues I had with the first book slide; the rest of this series is really good. I have yet to find a single book, let alone a whole series, that I would truly call perfect. But the Lightbringer series comes closer than most. Just remember that this is fiction and that it is written by an infallible human being just like every other book out there. Reading is fun, but you have to keep these things in mind and take them with a grain of salt. And if this isn’t for you, well…not every book is for everybody. I, for one, felt the good outweighed the bad by a wide margin.

December 20, 2020

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