The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked this up when I came across the Kindle edition for $2.99. I had read Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy and found it to be very entertaining so the price seemed like a great deal. After reading the The Black Prism, I can definitely say that it was money well spent.
I believe that the greatest strength of the novel is the magic system. The whole thing is color-based. Magic users have the ability to harness one or more colors in the spectrum and each color has unique properties. The magical by-product is called luxin, which can be shaped and conformed to the user’s will. I also liked that magic took not only a physical tool on users, but a mental toll as well.
Although it’s different in many ways, the detailed structure of the magic system reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. I think having such a well developed system helped strengthen story and enriched many of the characters.
The characters themselves were not my favorite part of the novel, although I’ll admit that I really enjoyed the perspectives of Gavin and Dazen. They easily made up for the other somewhat lackluster characters, including our “unlikely hero,” Kip. I’ll give Weeks some credit trying to mix up the standard conventions by making Kip overweight, but, really, most of the other tropes still applied and I didn’t find him to be particularly compelling. And, when you think about it, it didn’t really even make sense for his character to be overweight, considering his lifestyle, but whatever.
As I mentioned, I was really drawn into the story lines of Gavin and Dazen, especially the glimpses back to the False Prism War. However, the “real time” story was just okay. I thought the enemies resolve was a little thin. Sure, it made sense, but it just seemed unlikely that no one was aware of the buildup of this huge army full of magic users.
I apologize for the random tangent, but I feel compelled to mention something that I found to be very strange. I’ll be damned if I could understand why Weeks put so much effort into describing each and every nation’s typical skin and hair colors. Not only was it impossible to keep straight, but I couldn’t even identify half of the colors he referenced. My guess is that Weeks was trying to create a multiracial universe, but I’m not sure that he really needed to sell it so hard.
Okay, so there were a few things that I didn’t really care for, but overall I enjoyed the novel. It was probably more of a 3.5 stars for me than a solid 4, but I rounded up. If you are looking for an interesting magic system or you enjoyed Weeks’ Night Angel series, I suggest you give this a try.