“Light cannot be chained.”
4.5 stars to The Black Prism! It’s so refreshing to read a fantasy series with a unique magic system that is also supported by fantastic writing. Brent Weeks brings humor and heartbreak to this world in the perfect mix. The magic system revolves around chromaturgy, which is harnessing light to create luxin. Drafters are people that can harness this light, and each visible color in the spectrum has a different property/power.
The story begins with utterly average Kip watching his childhood friends die when his city is massacred by the local king, King Garadul. Kip has lead a meager life so far, raised by an addict mother who seems to resent him. He has never known his father. The attack on the city actually leads him to meet his father (spoiler, though this happens in the first few chapters, so not too much of a surprise): The Prism, Gavin Guile. The Prism is the one person each generation that can draft every color. So yeah, he’s pretty much a *big deal*.
Kip eventually joins with Gavin to study chromaturgy and to defend a nation against King Garadul’s forces. I don’t want to go too much into what actually happens, because a lot of the story is wound tightly with surprises that might be spoiled if I go too deeply into the plot. Here’s a few things that play a huge role in the story, if you’re on the fence about reading it:
•brotherly rivalry: Gavin and his brother Dazen has been pitted against each other since their youth by their father. Both are strong in chromaturgy and the rivalry ends up eating them both alive. MAJOR decisions and twists in this story are based off of this rivalry.
•good vs bad: things aren’t always what they seem. Kip, his friend Liv, Gavin, and Dazen all make decisions that they think are best. This is a story that truly delves into the gray areas of leadership, following leadership, and the well intentions (and sometimes, devastation) of revolution.
•nature vs nurture and the effect: Kip has never felt love in his life, having a cruel addict mother. He still feels an obligation towards her and is affected by his relationship with her. Once he meets Gavin, he starts consciously making decisions that speak to his character. He is self deprecating and insecure after years of being treated harshly, but his true “Guile courage” shows through. Kip eventually uncovers a secret that tests his allegiance towards each of his parents.
I knocked off some points because there are some times that the focus on the female form is a bit immature and could be viewed as problematic. I enjoyed the story enough to be able to look past it and don’t believe any ill intent was meant (though ignorance isn’t an excuse, either). I’m hoping he’s a bit more conscious of this in future books!
Brent Weeks creates an enticing world. His characters have depth, heart, and humor to them. His world wasn’t predictable to me, as fantasy books can veer to. He’s a true forerunner in the fantasy genre. Now… to The Blinding Knife!
“You have to be a little bad to make history.”