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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting magic system
After emerging onto the fantasy scene with his Night Angel trilogy, readers have wondered what Brent Weeks would hit back with as a follow up. Yes, we knew that he could envision an epic world, yes we know that he could create descent characters and yes we also knew that he could write an adventure to keep you glued over the subsequent novels. However, the real quest...
Published on 27 Aug 2010 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog

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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite on par yet...
Earlier this year I read the `Night Angel Trilogy' by Brent Weeks. I have to say that it is one of the very best fantasy trilogies I have ever read. I felt things for those characters I have never felt before in a book - I really felt I knew them and cared about what happened to them. And that for me is rare. In addition to the lifelike characters, the story was...
Published on 1 Oct 2010 by M. J. Aplin


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea but could have been one book, 9 Jan 2013
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I liked the concept for the book and found it kept my interest until the end of book one. I'm not sure there is really the scope for a trilogy though so I will probably not read the next two as I feel it will have just been an expensive drawn out single book that has leapt on the current hunger for three book sets. (Sorry Brent)
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a new series!, 3 Dec 2010
Having only read Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy this summer, I was thrilled to discover that his new series would be out in August. I couldn't wait to see where Weeks would take the reader with his Lightbringer trilogy. I was swept away into the story set in the Seven Satrapies and I'm only disappointed I couldn't spent more time there than the 627 pages of this book allowed!

Most eye-catching about the world The Black Prism is set in, is it's magic system. The way magic is based around colours and the properties of light is really interesting, but what made it unique for me was the fact that the magic was finite; drafters have to quit at some point or 'break the halo', which essentially means they'll go mad and lose control of their magic. I'm still not completely clear whether this is because each drafter only has so much luxin he can draft or whether it is connected to willpower and keeping the magic in control, but it is clear that each drafter walks a fine line between using his magic and losing himself. What is also clear is that it takes an enormous amount of willpower to just stop drafting when the edge is reached, since it leaves a drafter feeling deadened. Drafters are trained at the Chromeria, the temporal and spiritual seat of power, headed by the High Luxlord Prism and the Spectrum, his council of advisers. The Chromeria is a snake pit, where you need to play the game to win. And don't expect anyone to play fair, as illustrated by Gavin's ploy with the Spectrum to get his way regarding Garriston and Aglaia Crassos' treatment of Liv.

As dazzling as the magic is, it was the characters who really shone for me. Kip, Gavin, Karris, Corvan and Liv are the main characters with Corvan and Liv taking slightly smaller roles. Gavin is intriguing; he's driven and knows he's running out of time, but he is not what he seems. One thing that is central to his character, is his relationship with his brother Dazen. At one point in the book Gavin remembers a fight he and Dazen had in their youth, which was intense but also really cool because I recognised the scene from a blog post Weeks wrote for the Powells blog about the Black Prism and some of its inspirations. It was a powerful scene and knowing its background only made it resonate more. But the absolute star of the book, for me, was Kip. I adore Kip! He's a little bit of an anti-hero; this pudgy, tubby boy, with an overly sharp tongue, who has always been an outsider. His wry, self-deprecating humour is priceless. He had me chuckling a lot and laughing out loud at a few points. I like how he draws strength from shrugging off his yoke of always having been told he's worthless and being bullied. Kip finds his feet and his place during the book and at the end is stronger and more mature than at the start. I can't wait to see how he develops further in the next book.

The Black Prism is an interesting start to the series. It had a few moments where I was unsure plot wise, mostly because it seemed Weeks was re-doing Night Angel, especially when it turned out Kip was Gavin's son. I was fearing another 'Luke, I am your father'-scene a la The Way of the Shadows. But with this book Weeks has taught me to trust him. He went in that direction, but it was only a curve in the road, not the destination. The book was a page turner and a very smooth read. There's so much more that I could say but I don't want to give spoilers. I can't wait to see where the story will go from here. What happens with Liv? Will Gavin be able to keep his secret and what is that dagger?

No word on when book two is out yet, but Weeks updated his twitter this morning announcing that he had handed in a novella on the origins of Night Angel's Durzo Blint. So hopefully, we'll be hearing more about that soon and have more information about the second Lightbringer book soon after that!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - As good as, if not better, than the Night Angel series!, 4 Oct 2010
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Jennifer L. Knight "longhaired_looney" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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After reading the Night Angel series of books, i was on the edge of my seat waiting for his next set of books to appear. The Black Prism was worth the wait, it went beyond my expectations. It grabbed me from the first chapter and i couldn't put it down, every waking moment i had a chance to read it i was picking up the book and loosing hours of my day. But it was worth it!

What is brilliant about Brent Weeks is that he gives you just enough information to set the scene for you, but leaves it for your imagination to fill in the picture. He does not drown you in pages of description telling you how brown the leaves were on the trees. My favourite thing about his writing is his sense of humor that he gives his characters, Kip's humor had me out right laughing (which makes you look a bit weird giggling into a book on the bus, but oh well.)

All is all - a FANTASTIC book!
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Your Daddy's High Fantasy, 12 Nov 2010
The Black Prism is volume one of Lightbringer, the new trilogy from Brent Weeks, a "mesmerizing" new voice in fantasy (according to Terry Brooks) whose first novel won out over a field full of contenders to become the bestselling fantasy debut of 2009. For the moment, let's presume the ecstatic press release championing Weeks' latest, not to mention longest, holds water. Between that and The Way of Shadows' critical and commercial success, certain expectations, unhelpful though expectations often are, are inescapable.

Many authors would shy away from such presumption, the better to tell their tales on their own terms. Not Weeks - and kudos to the man for that. Counter-intuitively, he appears, in fact, to embrace our expectations; throughout The Black Prism he treats them not as anchors forestalling his progress, but as opportunities, each and every one, to surprise and so delight. An exchange in the first chapter between a captured color wight and our Chosen One for the entertainments to come represents the first instance of Weeks' unconventional stratagem.

His rebuttals begin thus:

"Have you ever wondered why you were stuck in such a small life? Have you ever gotten the feeling, Kip, that you're special?"
Kip said nothing. Yes, and yes.
"Do you know why you feel destined for something greater?"
"Why?" Kip asked, quiet, hopeful.
"Because you're an arrogant little [redacted]. The color wight laughed. (p.6)

Which gently metatextual exchange, taken together with Weeks' unusual representation of Kip - more on which in a moment - serves to underscore the notion that this isn't your Daddy's high fantasy, oh no. Sure, our child of prophecy is present and correct, and when we're cordially introduced, wouldn't you know it, he's just begun to come into his powers. You see, Tyrea's self-styled King, Rask Garadul, has had Kip's nondescript little village burned to the ground as an example to those other communities considering rebellion. In the space of a morning, the boy has lost his home, his friends (such as they were) and his only family: his mother, a cold-hearted addict whose bitter parting words - "Kip, if you ever loved me, avenge me. Swear it by your worthless soul" (p.54) - tell not only the woeful life Kip has led in Rekton, but also of the quest for retribution to come.

The lately-orphaned fifteen year old is the massacre's only survivor. Far from out of the woods yet, he runs. He runs, come to that, right into the King and his guard of Mirrormen, surveying their evil deed from the safety of the plains. All hope is lost, until, lashing out in frustration, "a radiant green mass rose through him. [Kip] felt energy rush out from his body. A dozen blades of grass rose through his hand, with his punch, tearing his skin as they ripped out of him. They thickened to the width of boar spears as green light poured from him, and became blades in truth." (p.40) Kip, it transpires, is a drafter: more to his surprise than our own, perhaps, he can breathe in light and bellow it out in whatever form he sees fit.

nd there we have The Black Prism's magic system in miniature. In the Seven Satrapies, a realm arrayed around the great Cerulean Sea, drafters are in high demand and short supply. Their abilities can be channeled toward offensive and defensive ends, as in Kip's encounter with the renegade King, or else used for more modest purposes; some build bridges and lay roads, others fix roofs and craft impenetrable facades. The particular properties of the substance drafted depend on the qualities of the colors in question. However, most drafters can draw power from but one of the bands of light in the sevenfold spectrum, running from sub-red to superviolet. A few, known as polychromes, are able to draft from multiple colors. Being so rare, polychromes tend to live their lives out in luxury, stationed on the Chromeria - the seat of power among the Seven Satrapies - and pampered from initiation to freeing. Unto each generation, only one individual who can draft from the breadth of the light spectrum is given: these people are known as Prisms, and they hold unrivalled sway, both religious and political, over the entire realm.

For centuries, it has been so. But this generation gave forth two Prisms: the brothers Gavin and Dazen Guile. Fifteen years ago, they went to war. Of the Guiles, Gavin emerged triumphant, yet countless thousands died in the bloody power struggle. Seeking redemption for his part in the tragic loss of life, Gavin has set himself a noble purpose for each year he serves as the Prism of the Seven Satrapies. In Garadul's defection, Gavin sees an opportunity to achieve one of his goals: to free Tyrea, the staging ground for the decisive battle which brought the False Prism's war to a close. And so, he takes to Tyrea, with sometime lover Karris, a Blackguard, by his side, and a hidden agenda. For Gavin has received a note from Lina, Kip's late, haze-addled mother, informing him that "It's time you meet your son." (p.15)

We can allow Weeks these minor indulgences, surely. In order for the author to subvert the traditional tropes he has in his sights, he must first establish them; enrich them with proper context, that the impact of their otherness, as and when Weeks' deems reveal it, is felt [far and wide]. Thus, though Kip is The Black Prism's token chosen one, and indeed, the "fathead" (p.3) stands to inherit everything short of the very heavens from his surprise father, in most other respects - initially at least - Kip is a distant reminiscence of the usual unassuming nobodies destined for greatness whose journeys of self-discovery and accidental Godhood lie at the heart so many fantasies. He is, firstly, that rarest of things: a character of color. Kip's "light kopi-and-cream-colored skin" (p.19) sets him apart from most of those on Little Jasper, where comparatively pampered white drafters are trained to make the most of their prismatic gift. Given that the notion of an ethnic main character rather than the more commonplace sidekick of color came from a suggestion made in passing to the author on Twitter, that bastion of inspiration, we might consider the author's noncommittal engagement with such a fraught question a grace rather than a failing, yet set against the context of a world in which color dictates all things, one expects, not unjustifiably, some form of follow-through. Beyond the mere fact of it, however, Weeks makes little of Kip's race.

Nevertheless, Kip defies the picture of traditional fantasy protagonists in another sense: surprisingly, there's rather a lot of him to go around. To put it politely, he's a "stout boy" (p.96) whose "ungainly... frame" (p.19) proves, true to life, rather a handicap when all hell breaks loose. Somewhat less politely, Weeks seems to glee in informing us of the sight of "Kip running... like a milk cow lumbering out to pasture." (p.38) Add to that the fact that Kip's a bit of a big girl's blouse, all told. When his path crosses the Prism's, Kip's first reaction is to hide behind him. Throughout The Black Prism, the boy runs, screams, wets himself; generally quivering with terror at every turn.

He's a far cry, then, at least superficially speaking, from the determined, hard-done-by heroes of most fantasy fiction. And yet, when the narrative demands it, Kip is, for all Weeks' ambition of parrying our presuppositions, exactly the hero one expects. When he runs afoul of King Garadul, his powers blossom from nothing; when he's put to the test at the Chromerium, Kip practically breaks the mold; and in the climactic battle for Tyrea's contested capital, he's an identikit chosen one from head to toe: suddenly, against all The Black Prism's internal logic, Kip is precisely the thing Weeks has been at pains to deny. Neither his physical nor his and psychological limitations are of any import whatsoever in these pivotal instances.

What stock The Black Prism sacrifices in Kip's oh-so-convenient turnaround, Weeks aims to regain with Gavin Guile's more consistent and altogether more engaging share of the narrative. The Prism's conflicts are equal parts internal and external, and they stand as substantially more impactful than Kip's peripheral struggles: none more so than the decades of imprisonment he has foisted on his brother, Dazen, whom the people of the Seven Satrapies, high and low alike, believe dead. And yet Gavin's share of the narrative burden - indeed the overarching direction one foresees Lightbringer moving toward - turns on a case of mistaken identity, and when Weeks pulls the curtain back on the not-so-shocking truth of the matter, he fumbles, wreaking havoc in so doing on what would otherwise be the strongest aspect of The Black Prism. The chapter devoted to rationalizing the actuality of Gavin Guile is a confused morass of reference and referent. Rather than pulling the rug from under us, as one presumes Weeks intends, he instills instead an element of unreliability into an already-awkward equation, and then hopes we'll go along with things, unquestioning, as they proceed as if nothing had happened. The notion that no-one in the Seven Satrapies has noticed this outlandish character swap shop beggars belief in itself, except that, of course, when it's expedient in narrative terms, it seems everyone and their mothers have known all along.

Neither is this the only instance of the preposterous in The Black Prism. To Weeks' credit, a hundred-some chapters and a revolving door of alternating perspectives mean that this substantial novel moves at a pace, but it is not such a one as to allow readers to glean over the baffling twists and turns which accumulate like so much grist in the mill throughout the last act. As events approach a head, a series of misunderstandings are wrought from the ether of the author's imagination: we are to accept, for instance, with submissive shoulders and downcast eyes, that one of The Black Prism's major players is so taken by the copper tongue of a paper-thin Misunderstood Bad Dude archetype as to switch allegiance entirely. Pull the other one, why don't you Brent...

As a fantasy narrative in the well-worn mold of old, The Black Prism is not without its strengths, among them pace, ambition and an interesting, if as-yet sketchy magic system. Strange Horizons contributor Nic Clarke described Weeks' previous fiction as "reasonably entertaining tosh," and to a T, this is that. For all its action and invention, however, The Black Prism sets itself up for a fall by insisting that it is other, somehow, and so superior, as if that follows. It is not; we needn't even dally by debating the troubling implications of that perspective. Weeks' latest does an admirable job of anticipating our expectations, yes, and yet the author's attempt to repurpose them, as outlined at the outset, amounts to an alteration of few superficial aspects of the typical fantasy mode followed in short order by the contrived reiteration of exactly what he initially appears to decry. Your Daddy's high fantasy says hey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Aug 2014
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Awesome!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The black prism, 15 April 2013
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C. Cushen - See all my reviews
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Liked it not sure I loved it ,did find the whole magical system a bit too much and found some of the concepts hard to understand but sticking with it ,it did get easier
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 20 Sep 2014
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Superb
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish through boredom, 13 Nov 2012
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I read three or four books a month, of varying genres, and its very rare that I cannot finish a book.....alas this is one. I tried several times to get into it but in the end just had to give up. Personally i found the writing was flat, uninspiring and boring. Not for me but to be fair I didn't finish it so maybe a slightly harsh review.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into, 27 Nov 2012
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I have read a few Brent Weeks books and enjoyed them , but I found this one a bit too way out even with as much imagination as I could use it was still hard going and of course it leaves the door open for the next book in the series, but if you are a fan then read it .It is different and very well written, heros of another kind
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book but not don't like the magic system, 28 Sep 2010
By 
J. L. Merritt "Jason Kent" (England) - See all my reviews
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I loved Brent Weeks previous books and his trilogy is one of my current favourites and I was look forward to reading his new material.

Whilst the book is a lot slower paced the storyline is interesting enough to keep the reader occupied. My one gripe is the system of magic, the idea that a user can create objects with different colours reminds me of a childrens fairybook tale!
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The Black Prism: Book 1 of Lightbringer
The Black Prism: Book 1 of Lightbringer by Brent Weeks (Paperback - 1 Sep 2011)
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