The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (Lightbringer: Book 1)

What Brent Weeks has painted here is nothing short of marvellous. It’s a beautifully rich fantasy universe with an awe-inspiring amount of world-building and colour behind it. There’s just so much detail that truly brought the world to life for me.

The Black Prism has a fantastic magic system. I thought Brandon Sanderson was the only writer of fantasy who could create such cool and intricate systems. I was wrong. Brent Weeks’ system based on colour and light can match anything Sanderson has put together. And that’s a real feat in and of itself because Sanderson is the best in the business. The magic is categorised into different subcategories and styles based on the colours wielded by the user. It’s straightforward and it’s very clever. The balance is perfect.

Kip is not your typical hero. He is fat, uneducated and quite ordinary but in his veins flows a power he has not quite come to terms with. So, it was great to see him grow as a character as he learnt the extent of his abilities and where they stem from. He still has a very long way to go, but I think his future will be certainly interesting and dramatic. How could it not be? He is the bastard of the Lord Prism, Gavin Guile, the most powerful magic user in the world. Gavin’s life is not quite as simple as it would seem, however. He harbours a secret that would shake the world if it was revealed. Secrets always have a way of being exposed though, so finding out how and when this will come out is one of the main reasons I want to carry on reading. It’s explosive stuff.

The plot is loaded with secrets and conspiracy all because of one man’s secret identity. And it really made the story intense. It won’t be long before Gavin’s greatest enemy, his brother Dazen, breaks free and shatters his world. He will want revenge, and I can’t say I blame him. He has been wronged and imprisoned and he will be out for blood. And so far, I have found his character far more dynamic than any others because he is shrouded in mystery. We have only seen glimpses of him and I’m looking forward to learning more about his story and exactly what happened. As I said, there’s lots of secrets here. There’s also something more at play, I just know it.

My reading experience with this one was largely positive; however, there were a few moments where the plot slowed down too much, as the characters pondered over their past and future decisions. I think, though, as time goes on the series will get a little sharper. I have a good feeling about where this is all going.  The tone was still being set here and relationships being established. It’s only just getting started. So please be warned: this is a slow burner. It takes it’s time to build up to the conclusion and its careful in doing so. This is not a quick read; it’s loaded with history and detail despite the flashes of action that make it feel like a different sort of book at times.

One thing I want to mention here is Brent Weeks’ prose. I feel like I need to because one of the main criticisms levelled at this book is its apparently poor prose. Let me say that I have no problems with it. I loved the descriptions of colour and the narrative flowed smoothly. This is all very good so far, a strong opener, but I have a strong feeling it’s going to get much better as the plot and characters develop.

I’m reading this as part of the #LightbringerSeriesReread as organised by Orbit UK. Be sure to follow the hashtag on twitter for more updates from myself and other readers.

For now, though, I’m moving straight onto the second book, The Blinding Knife.

8.7 / 10
-- Sean Barrs

I had never read the previous trilogy and had committed the cardinal sin of buying a book simply because I liked the cover, but that momentary whim has repaid me with interest! This is a beautifully-crafted fantasy that held me from beginning to end, for all 600 plus of its pages. The narrative is enthralling and the twists are so stunning that I had to go back and re-read the first because I couldn't believe that I hadn't seen it coming, that Weeks had so skillfully misled me.

It has a fascinating system of magic which is complex and well-thought out, based on the colour spectrum that results when white light is dispersed by a prism. The pay-off for being the most talented of magicians, a 'superchromat' like the Prism Gavin Guile himself, is a limited lifespan that dwindles the more you 'draft'. Break your limit, the 'halo', and you are faced with suicide or the madness of becoming a 'wight' and being hunted down. Guile himself starts the story already facing his impending death: 'five years to achieve five impossible goals'.

This first book is woven around five main characters, each of whom found a place in my heart and each carrying a burden of guilt revealed through the story. The volatile relationship between Prism Gavin Guile and Blackguard Karris Whiteoak draws constant sparks; the story gradually unfolds each painful fragment of their history and it seems that only further tragedy can come of it. At the same time the Prism must build a relationship with the illegitimate son he has suddenly inherited, but even that is underlain by dark secrets. His son, Kip, is awkward and smart-mouthed – and retains his character as 'brat' rather than 'chosen one' in an almost endearing way. From a lifetime spent feeling inadequate and inconvenient, discovering his father is not only the most powerful man in the land but also handsome, smart and charismatic, is just another injustice to add to the list. Along with Kip is childhood friend Liv, a less-talented drafter whose father was a renowned general that fought against Gavin, and whose sudden compliance to the Prism leads her to doubt everyone and everything that she knows. And just to spice up the mix, there is the mysterious prisoner that Gavin keeps locked away in a secret blue room...

I don't want to give away any spoilers from this book, but I was seriously impressed with it. It's been a long time since I picked up a book that I couldn't then bear to put down until I'd reached the end. While I wait impatiently for book two and consider spending out on the hardback version in order to read it as soon as possible, I'm off to buy the previous Brent Weeks trilogy. Excellent!

9.3 / 10 
-- Pippa Jay

9/10 A beautifully rich fantasy universe with an awe-inspiring amount of world-building and colour behind it

Reviews by and Pippa Jay

4 positive reader review(s) for The Black Prism

7 positive reader review(s) in total for the Lightbringer series

Brent Weeks biography

The Black Prism reader reviews

from United States

A substantial improvement over his earlier Night Angel trilogy. Gone are the endless plot conveniences and loose ends. Without them, Weeks' excellent pacing, varied characters, and penchant for mind-boggling twists make the Lightbringer series difficult to put down. The story is made all the more compelling by what is probably the most interesting magic system I have ever encountered.
9/10 ()

from England

Like in the Night Angel Trilogy (my favorite book series) Brent Weeks has done it again. he has created an impossible world with impossible circumstance and thrown in outstanding characters to create a masterpiece.
10/10 ()

from Somewhere

Like how his previous series improved with both plot and decreased in spelling/grammatical errors this book proves to be leagues beyond his previous series. This book retains the compelling of the previous series, however it has moved beyond it through an excellent storyline, where the concepts take a few chapters to hash out - but it is easily worth it. As the review mentions there are some major twists nearly everywhere, but it does not make the book too confusing or make you expect anymore to come. I don't know about anyone else but I am yet to decide which characters are the protagonists and which the antagonists though. The story itself flows well, with the different concepts integrating in nicely, I will definitely marking the calendar for the next installments of this series or indeed any books that this author releases and urge anyone who is a little unsure to give this book a shot.
9/10 ()

from Australia

Buying a book based solely on the cover is hardly a cardinal sin, I know instantly that if I see a Dragon on the cover that I will not buy the book because I have read so many books about dragons and surely someone has something more original to offer. In this case Brent Weeks has built a beautiful world, central to which lies a very original and well thought out magic system. This world used as the setting for a dark gritty story that just flows so well from start to finish. The author not afraid to take risks by putting the main characters in some very real danger and I like that.
9/10 ()

9.2/10 from 5 reviews

All Brent Weeks Reviews