The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks publishes today.
Fans of Weeks are rejoicing. It is another massive epic fantasy tome, one that will take longer than a night to read and which can double as a rat killer. But that is true of all the Lightbringer books, a series that is as great in imagination, characters, and storytelling as it is in words.
And the magical system in place in Lightbringer is one of the more ingenious ones developed. Color. Light. And all the variations that comes with them.
Weeks answered some questions about The Blood Mirror and more.
UNBOUND WORLDS: The Blood Mirror is in fine bookstores today! Tell Unbound Worlds readers about the Lightbringer series and the world you’ve created?
BRENT WEEKS: Lightbringer is about a charismatic emperor’s lies and how meeting the bastard he didn’t know he had leads to the fall of an empire. It’s set in an alternate Mediterranean Sea-type area in about the early 1600’s, so you have lots of cultures, all changing rapidly, along with rudimentary firearms, swords, and magic all together. It’s an exciting and dangerous world with lots of conflicting loyalties, political intrigue, big secrets, cool magic, and fast action.
UW: The magical system in Lightbringer is based on color. How much research did you have to do on the subject? How did you go about that?
BW: A lot! I read everything from declassified military briefings on millimeter wave technology in riot dispersion to discredited psychology manuals about color effects on personality. I looked at different color systems and when, in history, colored lenses and corrective lenses were first developed. I’ve quizzed my optician every time I go in for a checkup. The real-life blend of objective science (nano-meter ranges on the electromagnetic spectrum) with cultural filtering (it’s been claimed that Homer called the sea “wine-dark” because the Greeks didn’t have a word for blue) and with personal perception and biology (different kinds of color blindness) have made a rewarding and challenging territory to explore–and that’s before I even add in the magic!
UW: The Blood Mirror was initially going to be the final book in the series until you starting writing it. Assuming the story “grew in the telling,” when did you begin to worry that you’d need another book to wrap things up?
BW: Before I wrote the first word. I had long discussions with my editor because I realized Gavin and Kip really, really wanted two books to do justice to their stories. But I hate hate hate filler novels in long fantasy series, so out of a worry of having too little to justify a fifth novel, I was trying to cram way too much into the fourth.
Finally I realized, Hey, dummy, Gavin and Kip are the main characters.
To squeeze their character- and plot-arcs into one book would be giving readers short shrift. So then I turned to the biggest minor characters and plot lines and asked if Blood Mirror could justify itself as a full novel not only on plot but on thematic and character-growth terms for a host of secondary characters. This is, incidentally, one of the key difficulties of writing multi-volume epic fantasy: how do you get each major character to have internal growth and external definitive action in each volume?
I feel I was able to solve those problems but of course that’s up to each reader to judge.
UW: When you started editorial work on The Blood Mirror, did you already have some words written for the next and final book? How far along are you in it? Got a title you can share?
BW: I’ve made great progress on the next book. Unfortunately the three or four words that are eluding me thus far are the words of the title. Well, okay, I do have a possibility I love, but my editor has refused to title it THE BOTCHED ENDING. Weird.
UW: Pull out your inner fashionista. What’s your favorite color to wear? And what does it say about you?
BW: My inner fashionista says, “Damn son! You do you. By which I mean stay home. You just write in a closet somewhere. Leave the fashion to us beautiful people. Oh, and if you do go out, wear blue. You got you some gorgeous eyes. Maybe something that covers, uh, everything else? Blue hijab, maybe?”
UW: Unrelated The Blood Mirror question. I just recently became a father and you’ve been doing the job now for a few years. How has having children affected your writing life?
BW: When my second daughter was born, she got a fever when she was three weeks old. It wasn’t super high, but we went to the hospital–and they checked us in immediately. As the doctor explained it, “Kids this young simply don’t have an immune system. We’ve seen infants just… die.” That sense of the fragility of life and happiness isn’t something I’ll soon forget. Someone not washing their hands could obliterate my happiness? Doesn’t that seem ludicrous?
My daughter was fine, and I’m sure it was all merely an abundance of caution on the doctors’ part, but as one who asks What If? professionally, it was a harrowing four days.
Generally, being a father has allowed me to experience new levels of anxiety and new heights of joy. Surely that’s got to be worth something in my l–
Hey! Take that out of your mouth, young lady! What IS that?! And let go of your sister’s hair, right this minute!
The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks is in fine bookstores today!
See what kind of Prism you make!