Book: The Black Prism
Author: Brent Weeks
Series : Lightbringer Series Book #1
629 pages, Hardcover
First published August 25, 2010
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.
My decision to read “The Black Prism” was influenced by the praise the series received on social media in 2021. This is my first encounter with Brent Weeks’ work, but based on my impressions of the first book in the series, it certainly won’t be my last.
The magic here is in the light. There are seven primary colors: Blood Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Ultraviolet. There are different grades, and pullers can pull one or more colors. All the gifted are sent to Chromeria where, after tests and trials, they begin their training in the intricacies of Luxin handling. The hierarchy in this world is interesting. To a large extent, what you can do determines the prestige you’ll enjoy. But every power has its limits. If you allow yourself to cross the line, you’ll become a colored rabid and lose the human in you.
One of the main characters in this fantastic story is Gavin Guile and he’s the most powerful pull in the Empire. Admittedly, it took me a while to understand the world the author describes, but I think the experience I’ve with Brandon Sanderson helped. Being a prism means you can use all the colors and be able to break down sunlight into its components without having to wear glasses to help you. Gavin is an interesting character. I found him a bit too flirtatious at the beginning of the story, but that subsided as the plot progressed.
The story behind the War of the False Prism and the dark secrets of the Prism definitely won my sympathies. Smoothly and gradually, Brent Weeks transformed Gavin Guile from a villain into an ideal. The character is so multi-layered, and the author’s own writing approach, the fact that we witness with the character his insecurities, his musings and thought processes, adds to the appeal of Prism. Gavin Guile is a character I’ll certainly remember.
Kip – the illegitimate son
The story opens with a brutal attack on the settlement where the book’s other impressive character lives. While Gavin Guile is masculine, handsome and strong, Kip is described as a cuddly bear plagued by his own weaknesses. His mother is a drug addict, he fails to keep his friends from dying, and his mouth overtakes his common sense. Kip’s portrayal is lightly comic and helps to lighten the story in an entertaining way. And although the boy’s initial portrayal leaves this impression, Brent Weeks’ ability to develop his characters is evident here. Kip becomes an important part of the overall story, and the end of the first part hints that we’re far from seeing everything he’s capable of.
War of the False Prism’s – The Black Prism
The plot becomes entangled around the war of the two Guile brothers and its consequences. Never before in the history of Chromaria have two Prisms been born in the same generation. A precedent that leads to the War of the False Prisms, a battle between Gavin and Dazen for a place on the throne. Of course, we know what happens to the allies of the losing side. We slowly get into this cycle of revenge, murder and betrayal. The story is told in a very interesting way and surprises with many revealed secrets and unexpected twists. The book isn’t without bloody battles and action, which is one of the things I like about fantasy.
In The Black Prism you read about a battle between the normals, the humans who defend themselves with muskets and swords, and the mages who can draw a sword of blue light or send a flaming red orb that sets fire to everything in its path. You’ll be confronted with the fact that you’re at the top of the hierarchy and yet have absolutely no power to change wrongs. You’ll witness a heartbreaking story about a feud between two brothers and the price paid by the victor. What does it mean to wear someone else’s shoes?
My rating for The Black Prism is 4 stars. Not because I didn’t like it, quite the opposite. I think the book was 100% worthwhile. It just had a lot of humorous thoughts and dialog that I thought was out of place and seemed too over the top.