Gavin 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. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals.
But 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.
I was a huge fan of Brent Weeks debut, the Night Angel Trilogy. In fact, I was such a huge fan that at first I hesitated to read his latest work, the Black Prism, out of a perverse disappointment that Kylar’s story and setting were finished. As you’d expect, that was a mistake. If you like an author’s work, you’re liable to like their new work. And the Black Prism delivers again.
I knew from experience Brent Weeks doesn’t pull his punches much. So when a beloved character is in danger, I always feared this was the moment something terrible would happen to them. Less so with Kip, but with Gavin or Karris, I always knew something could go wrong any moment. So every chapter with them was a mixture of excitment and fear.
The Lightbringer Trilogy takes place in a setting where magicians called drafters can draft one or more colors. The colors have varying uses that are not all explicitly defined. While the idea of color-based magic initially reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker, the setting and story are not in any way similar. Drafters can only draft a finite amount in their lives, and then they break their halo (a ring of their color around their iris). When that happens, they go mad. They’re supposed to commit a kind of ritual suicide before that, but it doesn’t always happen.
The story centers around the Prism, Gavin, the one man who can draft as much as he wants and draft any color, and his bastard son, Kip. Kip knows almost as little about the rules of magic he suddenly faces as the reader, so he serves as the reader’s lens for learning about the system. He’s interesting as a kind of anti-hero. He’s fat, a little lazy, and not very brave. Or that’s how he sees himself. In reality, he’s pretty damn tough when he really needs to be, and his sharp tongue kept me amused.
But though I liked Kip despite his flaws, Gavin was the one that really captured me. I won’t spoil his complex background or character much. I will say, that sixteen years before the novel, he fought a war with his brother who also became a Prism at the same time, something that should never happen. This war almost destroyed the world, and both sides did terrible things. And Gavin spends his time trying to right the wrongs they commited. He’s charismatic, forceful, and noble or brutal as the circumstances demand. In other words, a more typical hero for a fantasy epic. However, he’s also emotionally conflicted and playing at some very dangerous deceptions.
I can’t recommend Brent Weeks enough. He’s one of my favorite modern fantasy authors.
5 phoenix hatchlings!
THE BLACK PRISM