The Broken Eye

Inciting Event: Kip escapes his half-brother Zymun. He ends up on an island, where he finally taps into his powers and begins shedding his inferiority complex.

I’ll say right off that the structure in this book is … tricky. In part, this is because it’s a sequel (in which the various structural moments are often less defined). In part, it is because this is a big, rambling book that fails to have a clearly defined conflict of its own, beyond the general conflict of the series. Plus, we’ve got half a dozen plot lines divided amongst various characters, which makes identifying the true turning points tricky (although a more defined structural plan would have eliminated that problem). In short, everything I’m going to say here is a bit of guesswork.

That said, Kip’s escape from Zymun is the first clear turning point. Even though it essentially removes Kip from the conflict with Zymun, it is still inciting in the sense that it allows him to start heading back to the true conflict at the Chromeria.

First Plot Point: Kip finally makes it back to the Chromeria—a nice shift of “worlds,” even though he’s basically returning to what is now the story’s Normal World (which is often a necessity in sequels). Once back, his grandfather Andross gets himself voted into the wartime leadership position of promachos. This fully launches the only obvious main conflict in the story: Andross against Kip and all his allies in a muted game of mental chess.

We also have an obviously big turning point and switching between “worlds,” in Gavin’s subplot, when he takes over the ship on which he has been a galley slave. Early on in the story, Gavin’s plot points are (for the most part) more defined than Kip’s, but they eventually fade into subplot territory. I suspect this is largely the result of the fact that this book was intended to be the concluding chapter of a trilogy instead of the third book in a four-book cycle.

First Pinch Point: There is no blatant turning point in Kip’s part of the story here. However, Andross exerts lots of pressure, emphasizing his ability to threaten and control Kip, especially in the scene in which he gets Kip to promise not to tell Gavin’s wife Karris about Zymun—her bastard son.

Again, at this point in the story, Gavin’s pinch point is much more obvious: he is captured by a political enemy, Eirene Malargos, who tortures him.

Midpoint: After a dream, Kip has a revelation and realizes the knife Gavin was stabbed with (at the end of the previous book) robbed him his powers as Prism. He redoubles his efforts to study in the forbidden libraries. This is both a clear “Moment of Truth” in many ways and a shift from reaction to action. The trouble is that this revelation never affects the plot in any blatant way.

Meanwhile, Gavin’s desperate gambit to talk his way to freedom turns against him when Eirene’s vengeful ally, the Nuqaba, reveals she knows he is lying. This is a big moment for Gavin, especially within his inner conflict. But from here on, his plot takes less and less precedence with the story.

Second Pinch Point: Andross trashes Kip’s room in search of the Nine King cards he wants. Someone orders an assassination attempt upon Kip, and he barely escapes.Eirene Malargos’s younger sister proposes a marriage alliance with Kip, which Andross favors. There are a lot of threads crossing here, and they all pull together nicely to create all kinds of good pinches.

Third Plot Point: Kip finds the Nine King cards—and they affix to his skin and stop his heart. He visits a netherworld, outside of time, where he faces a demon and learns about the Lightbringer prophecies. Just after he wakes up, he learns Zymun has arrived and will be named prism-elect by Andross.

Meanwhile, Gavin learns the Nuqaba plans to put out his eyes and then assassinate him. Even though the event here is just foreshadowing for what’s to come, this is where he undergoes his dark night of the soul.

Climax: Gavin is to have his eyes put out in the midst of a gladiatorial celebration. Karris learns of at the last minute and comes to rescue him. They return home, just as Zymun is being named prism-elect. Zymun orders the Lightguard to kill Kip and his team.

Climactic Moment: Kip escapes.

Resolution: The book closes out with a series of epilogues.

Notes: On a first reading, I find the structure very problematic here—and largely to blame for the meandering, plot-less storyline in which not much actually happens. However, this is a decidedly complex book, and my analysis of the structure was complicated by the fact that the percentage counter on my Kindle was off (thanks to 12% of the book being “extras” in the back). After going back over the book, I feel pretty confident this is the best reflection of the structure to be found, but it’s entirely possible a re-reading might convince me to change my opinion about some of the early moments.

It’s also worth noting that despite all my complaints about the structural problems, I still very much enjoyed this book. I rate books by how much I enjoy reading them, instead of just their  technical merits. These days, there is no one I enjoy reading more that Brent Weeks. This is easily the most gripping, fascinating, entertaining, immersive book I’ve read since the last Brent Weeks’ book. As such, it deserves five stars.

Still, it’s far from a perfect entry into the series. As the third book in what was originally intended to be a trilogy, it’s obviously a story that rather outgrew itself.

But did I enjoy every single page? Yes, I did. Is the character development—particularly Kip’s—excellent all the way through? Yes, it is. Is the thematic import and world-building as powerful and engrossing as ever? Possibly more so.

As a reader, this is the type of book I enjoy the most. It doesn’t have to be perfect, simply because it hits all my buttons and makes me love it in spite of its problems.

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