Author: Brent Weeks
Category: High Fantasy
Publication Date: August 25th, 2010
The first third of the book does not really stand out as anything special. Then there is a slight plot twist and it seems like after this, Mr. Weeks hit his stride. The story is much more engaging after this point.
The wit of Gavin’s bastard son, Kip, was definitely a driving factor in our rating of this book! Gavin was no slouch on the witty comebacks himself, but Kip’s self-deprecating humor and the fact that he barely seemed able to control himself from making his remarks brought a lot of likability to the table.
He whines a lot about being overweight and overweight but underneath this he is actually a rather complex character. Despite how little he thinks of himself, or perhaps because of how little he thinks of himself, Kip is always on the front lines of whatever is going on.
“Don’t you see, Liv? I’m perfect precisely because I am nothing. Look at my eyes! No color, no halo, but I can draft. Liv, for the first time in my life, I know exactly what I have to do. No one is making me do this. I’m doing it because it’s right. There’s something tremendously….freeing. Powerful. I don’t know what, but I know it feels good.”
“Even if you go to your death?” Liv asked.
He chuckled joyously. “I’m not being a hero, Liv. I just don’t like myself that much. So what if I die?”
He constantly feels like he is nothing, has nothing, so he may as well go all in because he thinks he will never have another shot to prove himself or prove to himself that he can do something worthwhile.
As for the rest of the characters, they are fun and likable just maybe not as complex.
Gavin is a fun character to read and watching his mind work in it’s twisty way is pretty awesome sometimes.
Karris was okay. She was a kickass female character but she spends most of the time in this book being locked up so we are mostly just told about how kickass she is. She was a likable enough character and her flashbacks provided a lot of insight. Hopefully we get to see more of her ability to kick butt in future books.
When talking about a high fantasy series it almost goes without saying that the world-building and magic system need to be discussed.
Young drafters, people that can turn colors they see into a usable substance, are sent to the Chromeria for training. The training and the government are both based largely on religious beliefs. There are hints of an uprising against these established beliefs and the Prism as the religious leader.
The magic is based on colors; sub-red, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and superviolet. A “drafter” can use one or more of these colors to make luxin, a magical substance of varying consistencies (some liquid, some more solid) depending on what color is being drafted and the skill of the drafter. The use of colors as a magic system is, as mentioned many times over by other people reviewing this book, very original. Unfortunately, it is not as fleshed out as one would hope.
There is some description of emotions or mental states that accompany the use of a particular color (i.e. drafting red induces anger, drafting green induces a sense of wildness). However the properties of each color of luxin is only introduced in fragments. By the end, there is a definite feeling of not being sure exactly how this magic works, what exactly each color can accomplish. As there are several conversations about magic, who can use it, having to see the color you are drafting, this is somewhat surprising to realize.
I really think Mr. Weeks showed off an ability to build characterization well in this book. It has been a very long time since I have read his Night Angel trilogy and I don’t remember much of it so I can’t really speak for how well he did in this respect in that series. The Black Prism does not showcase the ultimate character-building of all fantasy books by any means but I was impressed with Kip and Gavin. In a way, I am also impressed with Liv. I don’t like her but it’s more on a personal level that I don’t like her. I don’t agree with her attitude and choices but I can understand in a way why she thinks the way she does. In this way, I have to give Weeks credit for building a character that was understandable even if I don’t like her.