Review: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Title: The Black Prism

Author: Brent Weeks

Series: Lightbringer #1

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Orbit

Summary (from Goodreads)

In a world where light is the basis of all magic, Gavin Guile is the Prism who stands at the center of all power and peace. But behind the majesty are shadows of secrets: Gavin’s brother Dazen sits in a remote dungeon and his son Kip has grown to adulthood in a remote land, far from the truths of the realm.

What’s Good About It

It’s difficult to do serious epic fantasy without coming off like a cheap Tolkien rip-off. And, let’s be honest, Tolkien wasn’t all that great in the first place so being the cheap knock off of something pretty terrible isn’t a great thing to be.

Fortunately, it’s something The Black Prism isn’t.

The totally unique magic system is the book’s main selling point. I was fascinated by the idea of different bands of light being used for different types of magic. I’m not a physicist, but from my limited knowledge of light and how light works, it made perfect sense. The whole idea of only being able to draft so much before you ‘break the halo’ and turn into a Colour Wight – a crazed creature dictated by the drives of its colour (e.g. red = angry, passionate, burn stuff; blue = cold, calculating, logical) – is another fabulous one, and they made for excellent enemies, the characters fighting them drawn into the complex emotions of facing something they might become, and fighting something that was once like them.

And Weeks doesn’t stray from the emotional challenge. There’s poor Kip who watches the girl he fancies die fairly early in the story, followed shortly by his drug addled mother who he loves and hates. Then there’s Gavin and his relationship with Karris, one of his body guards, which only becomes a hundred times more complicated about halfway through the story when the reasons behind their difficult relationship are revealed.

The book has a nice climactic battle that feels final enough – leaving enough open to intrigue the reader sufficiently without falling into the LOST school of finales that answer no questions. The characters have developed and grown, but enough space is given for you to feel confident that they can take another two books of this epic length without becoming dull or all being killed off and replaced by new protagonists halfway through.

Overall, I was hugely impressed by this and will be hunting down parts two and three when they come out, along with picking up anything else by Brent Weeks if I see it in the library. And I don’t normally bother chasing down authors’ back catalogues.

What’s Not So Good

It’s very, very big. Which doesn’t bother me, but I know it intimidates some, and it doesn’t make it the easiest book to read on the bus or train. Not even I could fit this in my handbag, and my handbag is a black hole of books and other junk.

Rating: 5/5

(P.S. if this review is kind of snarky, it’s because I’ve watched waaaay too much Zero Punctuation in a quest to find my boyfriend a good playstation game to buy with his Xmas money. We have BlackOps – any recommendations?)

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