Title: The Black Prism
Series: Lightbringer #1
Author(s): Brent Weeks
Publisher: Orbit Books
Release Date: July 23rd 2014
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★
Imagine yourself staring out the window, breathing in the quiet peaceful night thinking that there isn’t a single thing you would change about that moment. The embrace of serenity veils you with a blanket of invincibility. That is only until a ray of sunshine sneaks into your life and gradually warms you with hope and conviction. This brand new source of comfort enlightens your mind with a truth you had not yet learned of your own volition. It’s in a moment of epiphany that you succumb to its seduction that you understand that nothing in life is ever fully understood, everything is a process that brings you to discover the subtle and hidden wonders of the world. Some might say it is emancipating to find solace in being content with what you have, but when you find out that things can get better if you let it come into your life, why not let it shimmy its way into your bubble and help you fancy life in ways you never could’ve fathom?
The Black Prism was the warm and gentle ray of sunshine for me today. With one of the most mesmerizing and full of life world-building in the history of fantasy, this action-packed story is bound to transport you on a colourful and visual experience like none other. This is the story of Gavin Guile, the Prism in the Seven Satrapies. While he might be the most powerful man in the world, his secret makes him the most vulnerable person alive. Upon discovering the existence of a son born in a far kingdom, his life flips upside and down and forces him to consider this offspring in his plans as the high priest and emperor. What follows is an adventure riddled with societal, political and magical ramifications, but also an adventure that will leave you stunned by its creativity and vision.
If there’s one reason why you should pick up The Black Prism and make it your priority in life, it’s the world-building. Drawing upon the colour spectrum, Brent Weeks builds one of the most cinematic and vibrant magic system that has ever graced fantasy literature. The basic idea is that magicians, called drafters, can use the light to create what they all call luxin. This luxin can take on different shades from the visible spectrum depending on the drafter and the presence of said colours in their immediate environment. This luxin, with various properties based on the colour drafted, can then be used to conjure things for transportation, protection or destruction. Drafters however are usually limited to a certain colour, making it much easier to understand why the Prism is the Emperor of this world. With his ability to draft any colour and to split light into every colour, he is easily the most powerful person out there. With such a complex magic system, you can only imagine the infinite possibilities that can be exploited and developed with this concept throughout the book. At first it’s not easy to grasp all of the details of this system, but starting off clueless and slowly learning the loops is half the fun throughout this story.
What makes this even more satisfying is the incredible cast. Every single character in this story is authentic, flawed and complex. None of their stories are simple and every story is interconnected in some way with one another. While the main character might be Gavin Guile, there are several other point of views that are seamlessly interspersed throughout the story, and one that deserves to be mentioned is Kip, son of Gavin Guile. This little fifteen year old chubby kid is genuinely hilarious and extremely loose-lipped. Irrelevant and constantly picked on throughout his life, the sudden attention and importance laid upon him puts his awkward and teenage ways on a pedestal and turns him into one of the most entertaining and ridiculous character ever. His innocent and ignorant self is also actually a representation of the reader’s own experience of this story as they both learn about the politics, the culture and the magic at the same time and figure everything out one piece at a time.
The Black Prism had everything you could ask for and more. Its peculiar narrative style (a blend of first-person and third-person) and its clever and rhythmic rotation between action sequences, plot-twist and world-building makes this a must-read for all fans of fantasy literature. I’m already dying to read the next book in the Lightbringer series.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada and Orbit Books for sending me a copy for review!