Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
When Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.
Author: Brent Weeks
Series: The Lightbringer #1
Release Date: 26/08/2010
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘The Black Prism’: 4 out of 5
Black Prism is one of those books, by one of those authors that, despite wanting to have read it for a while, has been languishing on my TBR for far too long. I picked it up as a buddy read which forced both of us to start it and, much like all books I just let linger, I’m glad I finally picked it up.
I’ll start off with the positives before cracking on to the negatives.
This book/series has, quite possibly one of the more inventive magic systems I’ve come across. It comes close to bordering the ‘you’re making this way too complicated’ realm of magic, but manages to stay on the right side of that line. A magic user (drafter) can cast magic, usually, in one colour (the colours of the rainbow predominantly). Some can cast in two or more. Each magic has its uses and every practitioner casts knowing that, every time they do so, they come one step closer to madness or death. You can tell the colour of a person’s magic by the colour of their eyes. When they snap, their entire eyes bleed through into that colour, something called ‘breaking the halo’, which I find to be a really unique and vivid bit of imagery.
It’s a very good system of ‘you can do cool stuff, but that stuff isn’t free. The cost is a dramatically shorted life span’ style of magic and I really like that dynamic. Makes you think a bit more when reading as, technically, any character could just snap at a moment’s notice. Each different colour of magic has it’s own personality traits that are shifted onto the caster (Blue’s prefer order for instance), another nice little touch to show the depth of thought that has gone into the magic system.
The overall plot is a very interesting one with enough layers hidden beneath the surface to keep a reader interested, and guessing, about various different plots (some of which start in this book and aren’t heard from again, but you just know their bubbling away ready for later use).
The book is told through several POVs and features relatively short chapters. There are (I think) ninety-six chapters spanning the six-hundred + pages and, for a book like this, I feel the short chapters work far better than having lengthy ones. Really helps to keep the interest high and the tempo up as far as story progression goes.
It’s by no means perfect. It falls short, quite heavily around the characters. My personal peeve being the character of Kip. It reads like the author has no clue how to write him, so writes him several different ways … often in the same chapter. He flits between outright coward, perverted teen who will look at any cleavage going (and then chastise himself for being a pervert) and, totally at odds with his outright coward act, he’ll suddenly fancy being an all-conquering hero (the annoying kind that has no training and can just do it). There also is scarcely a chapter that goes by where Kip hasn’t whined about being fat at least five times. It got to the point where I felt I didn’t need much more fuel to ignite my ‘I’m annoyed with Kip’ fire, but the author felt it was better to be stocked up and so shovelled more fuel onto it.
The female characters also aren’t particularly fantastic for the most part. A couple of them get a lot better when their characters are allowed to grow beyond what their roles demand of them (warrior, school girl with a crush etc …), but they start off a bit meh. Any of the background school girls literally act like any of the school girls you’d see in a Japanese manga: cleavage pushed up and aimed at whatever ‘hot guy’ they can see. Their thoughts literally revolve around hot men too.
It was the slight let down with the characters that kept this from being a five out of five for me but I’m very curious as to where it goes next and already have book two sat on my desk . A solid four and I certainly hope for more.