Book Review: The Black Prism

The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1)The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t read as many books at the moment as I’d like to. It’s more than I used to before I got my Kindle PaperWhite, but it’s still not as many as I’d prefer. (How many books? I’m right around 2-3 a month at the moment. I’d like to be at 1 a week or so.) In any case, I try to make the books I *do* read “count.” I don’t want to blow my reading time on something I won’t enjoy.

Thus, I will often put a book down if I’m not loving it, and I rarely get the second book of a series. I’m always on the hunt for something that will wow me. Something I’ll want to lose sleep over. And the sad truth is that more often than not, I’m disappointed. It’s one of the reasons I don’t write many book reviews–I try to only review the ones I really love. (Movies are more disposable for me. A 2 hour time commitment is so much less than 20 hours or however long it takes me to read a book. I can watch 20+ movies a month easily. Since I’m not a filmmaker, I don’t really feel any need to pull punches when I’m reviewing movies. But as an author, I’m never sure when the person who I’m asking for help (or a cover blurb) will turn out to be someone who I trashed in a review a year or two ago. Better to bite my tongue, methinks.)

This is just a long way of leading up to one fact: as soon as I finished The Black Prism, I bought the sequel and kept reading. It was that good of a book. Huzzah!
What makes it shine? First and foremost for me was the magic system. The book is epic fantasy, and the magic is color-based. Basically, magic users can tap into colors to do different things. Create objects. Change their bodies. Do cool things. It was such a nice shift from the typical magic you might encounter–fire or ice pellets. Wizards with pointy hats. It reminded me very much of Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems, and that’s a big plus in my book.

But it’s not all just about the magic. The book follows several viewpoint characters throughout the course of the novel. The characters are distinct and engaging, and the plot moves quickly and in unexpected directions. Weeks (the author) isn’t afraid to break away from the mold and do things that haven’t been done before.

What’s the plot? The book jacket does a fine job encapsulating it:

“Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. “But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.”

That’s enough to give you a taste, but the plot itself involves so much more than that.

Now, there were some fairly violent scenes in the book, and a few steamy situations (nothing graphic, though), so it’s not a book for the younger crowd–but it’s also not a book full of George R.R. Martin shenanigans. There’s a learning curve involved in the book–expect to be confused for the first while as you’re reading. It’s okay. It will all become clear by about a third of the way through, and then it’s off to the races.

If you’re looking for an engaging read that’ll keep you turning the pages and you’re in the market for epic fantasy, look no further.

Anyone else out there already read it? Let me know what you thought.

View all my reviews

Leave a comment