The Black Prism - Brent Weeks

This is another great book from Brent Weeks, the guy who wrote the Night Angel books. Like those books, this book was long, and very hard to put down. You can still see a Wheel of Time influence, but he's more doing his own thing here.

In this story, all the land (or all the land they talk about) is ruled over by a sort of unofficial triumvirate. The "emperor" is called The Prism, a man named Gavin Guile. There is a senate, of sorts, called the Spectrum, with one representative of each of the seven "satrapies" or provinces/countries/who knows. Lastly, there is The White, a woman whose name I forget, who oversees The Chromeria, which is a city-thing where all the magic users are trained, and the seat of government.

Magic users are called "drafters", and the source of their magic is light. Most people can only use one color, and each color has its own properties. Some people can do two colors, and a rare few can do three. The Prism can do all seven ("sub-red", red, orange, yellow, green, blue, "superviolet"). Drafters need to see their color in order to draft it, so they carry colored spectacles in case there is not enough of their color around to draft. The Prism is the only man who can split colors within himself, to draft any color from white light. Drafters make the light into physical material they call "luxin", and create tools or weapons or whatever with it.

The more a drafter drafts, a halo of their color grows in their irises. Once the halo extends beyond the iris, they go crazy and eventually die (or get killed). Thus, drafters have a limited time to live, depending on how much magic they use. Only The Prism can draft as much as he wants, but eventually he "wears out" and dies, too, but always and only after a period of years which is a multiple of seven. No Prism has lasted beyond twenty-one years once becoming The Prism. When one dies, another appears. Nobody knows why, so obviously it becomes a religious thing.

The story revolves around The Prism, who came to power after fighting a giant war with his younger brother, Dazen Guile, who also had somehow become a Prism. The war decimated the land and its people, and all sorts of atrocities were committed by both sides, especially in a province-thing called Tyrea. In Tyrea lives a clumsy fat boy with a smart mouth named Kip. He reminds me very much of Fat Charlie from Anansi's Boys. There are some other major characters, but Gavin and Kip are the main ones. The book had me laughing out loud in several places, mostly at Kip and his inability to shut up combined with his tendency to trip over his own feet and land in the most embarrassing place/manner available, literally and figuratively.

On a mission for The White, Gavin runs across a bunch of knights who are about to kill Kip, and so he kills them all and saves Kip's life. The knights turn out to be the men of the Tyrean "satrap", Somedude Whatshisface, who proclaims himself King of Tyrea and effectively secedes from the whatever and The Chromeria and all that. He lets The Prism escape with Kip, but he is an angry little man. Gavin knows he has just started a war, so he returns to The Chromeria with Kip, and the rest of the book happens.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes books. Stop what you are doing right now, and go get this book. No, seriously.

Well? Hurry up!

Vulash 12 years ago
I read this. I really enjoyed it, and also recommend it. I hope he keeps putting out books of this caliber.
pharren 11 years ago
Sequel is coming out in September! Pre-order from Amazon (or wait until it's out in paperback and save like $10):

Supposed to be reeeeeeeeeally good! One guy who I guess is another author or something (Peter Ahlstrom? My friend who introduced me to these books commented on a photo of his on Facebook, which is where I read this) says that this is the best thing he's read this year aside from A Memory of Light, which is the final book in the Wheel of Time series. So. That's gotta be a damn fine book, then.