The Black Prism by Brent Weeks – Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the first chapter in the Lightbringer Trilogy from the author of the Bestselling Night Angel Trilogy, The Black Prism, published by Orbit in the UK.
“Weeks proves that he can do no wrong. One of my favourite authors doing what he does best – if a book is written by Brent Weeks, buy it.” ~The Founding Fields
Have you ever wondered what it would be like knowing how long you have left to life? What would you do, where would you go? Well, Gavin Guile, the Prism and therefore the most powerful man in the known world knows this. He is the emperor and a high priest, and the only thing that keeps peace. However, Prisms aren’t built to last, and Guile has five years left alive.
Back in 2008, Weeks burst into the fantasy spotlight with his bestselling Night Angel Trilogy, which I enjoyed. I loved it, and couldn’t put The Way of Shadows, Shadow’s Edge or Beyond the Shadows down, they were that good. Which, however much I enjoyed, I couldn’t bring myself to make an effort to pick this book up earlier. I was afraid that Weeks wouldn’t be able to keep up with the amazing tales that were woven in Night Angel Trilogy, and that The Black Prism would be a disappointment.
As you’ve probably gathered by the quote at the top, it wasn’t – and I’m kicking myself for not getting it sooner. Although over six-hundred pages long, I enjoyed every page and couldn’t help but wish for more. Weeks is at the top of his game again, and I eagerly await the next instalment in this trilogy.
Back to the plot. Guile is beginning to prepare for the last five years of his life, and achieve impossible aims in those years. However, when he discovers that he has a son, born after the False Prism war that made him where he is today, Guile must decide how much he wants to go to keep a secret safe, a secret – that if revealed, would rip his world to pieces.
The Black Prism is set in a completely new creation by Weeks. Rather than return to the already established world of Cenaria, which he created in the Night Angel Trilogy, the author has taken us to an entirely new location, one which he manages to explore without info-dumping or slowing the breathtakingly fast pace down.
Even though Gavin Guile is a likeable character, he has some dark secrets concerning the False Prism war, which provides a backdrop to this novel, and saw Gavin defeat his brother Dazen.
Before I delve into the plot a bit more, it’s probably best if I talk about The Black Prism’s original (original as in I haven’t seen anything else remotely like it yet, feel free to correct me though), magic system. And believe me when I say this, magic takes up a huge, huge part of Weeks’ latest creation, and although at first difficult to understand and get used to, as the novel goes on you learn more about it (without the pace slowing down, which is a tremendous success on the author’s part), and thus the magic becomes more understandable, and if you didn’t think that that was good enough, the storyline is epic in all senses, and now that I’ve briefly touched the magic system, here’s the rest of the plot.
Kip, Gavin’s illegitimate son finds his life crashing down on him when his village is ransacked and destroyed by King Garadul, with him being the only survivor (only due to the efforts of Gavin and Kariss, a member of the elite guard of the Prism), and discovers that he is a drafter, a magician, meaning that he will one day turn into a Colour-Wight, as Drafters can only draft so much magic during their lives, as not only does drafting damage the body, but also it affects their mind. Eventually, the Drafter will begin to descent into madness, and as a Colour-Wight, will be hunted down and outcast from society.
As expected from Week’s previous works, all of the characters are well-developed, likeable and have a hint of originality about them. Little dialogue feels forced or faux, and Weeks even adds humour to the novel, and most of the times when Kip takes to the stage you know that something he’s going to do, especially if it involves talking to a member of the opposite sex, will often involve amusing scenes.
The Black Prism is a thrilling read, and if you’re a fan of people like George RR Martin, JRR Tolkien and Daniel Abraham then you must read this book. The Night Angel Trilogy is also very good as well, if you are looking to delve into Weeks and his creations. Although in my opinion, the Night Angel Trilogy and the first instalment of the Lightbringer Trilogy both are awesome; this new Trilogy has the potential to reach above and beyond the previous books.
We’ve had dramatic twists and turns that, when combined with the awesome pacing and well-thought out characters, will keep you reading all the way through despite the fact that this book is huge, and will only have you wanting more from Weeks.
More Lightbringer Trilogy: The Black Prism.
More Brent Weeks: The Perfect Shadow (eBook), The Way of Shadows, Shadow’s Edge, Beyond the Shadows.