I myself had all but given up on reading. Not finding too many titles that interested me, I felt I needed to be a tween to enjoy any of the current medium. (Not to knock Potter or even the Twilight series; I understood the fan base and I was glad that someone was writing for them.)
In my last attempts to find a book before I just gave up, I came across a white book with an assassin on the cover. I won’t lie, coming off a Assassin’s Creed high, the Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks seemed a perfect fit. Now a trilogy later, Mr.Weeks set off to write a new series, departing from the lands of the Night Angel for the new realm of Chromeria.
So what is the Black Prism?? Does he hold the same light as the fabled Durzo Blint?
In all fairness I’m going to attempt to make this review as spoiler free as possible, but it’s not an easy task. Let’s me set the scene.
This world’s magic consists of the color spectrum. Each of the seven colors has it’s associated personality type and rules – Red may be furious, but Blue tends towards logical stability. Those who conjure this magic are known as Drafters – think Benders from Avatar the Last Airbender, but with color being used to form objects at the cost of the magician’s life and personality. Each color is used differently – Orange is slick and heavy, Green is flexible, etc. As the Drafter becomes more powerful, their power consumes their personality and slowly bleeds into their eyes from the iris outwards. Those who are completely overtaken by their Color become insane but powerful “Color Wights”.
Above all the lesser Drafters is the Black Prism, answering to the White who oversees the politics of the kingdom. Unlike normal drafters, or even those who can draft from two or three hues, the Black Prism can draw upon all seven – and it’s their job to keep the others in balance, and hunt down Wights. And much like other drafters, they generally don’t live too long.
Gavin Guile the Prism is fully aware that he doesn’t have long to live. If his five years and five goals weren’t enough on his plate, he is given a envelope with a note that informs him he has a bastard sonwas conceived during his betrothal to old flame Karris. While they never married, Karris is now a member of the Blackguard, an elite force set with the goal to protect the Prism, and since the note wasn’t sealed, Gavin is concerned Karris might find out – or that the White will tell her. While on his way to see the White to confront her, Karris is sent with a mission and informed not to open the letter until she arrives. Even more convinced that bad things are afoot, Gavin accompanies her.
It’s not a great time. One of the lords of the Seven Kingdoms, a man named Garadual, has decided he is to be King. And as his first order of business, he needs to set one of his towns straight and show the rest of the kingdoms what crossing him means. And that town is Retkon – the same place Gavin and Karris are headed for
And meanwhile in Retkon, a rather clumsy boy named Kip is learning that he himself is a Drafter – and right in the middle of the upcoming war between Garadual and the Prism. Meeting Gavin and Karris in a chance encounter, he sets out to learn how to be a Drafter from them, while trying to survive the oncoming conflict.
There is of course much more to this story than the introduction above. And the story itself is somewhat difficult to get into at first. While I’ve read most of Weeks’ books and I’m accustomed to his writing style, it’s a lot to take in all at once. In particular, the descriptions of Drafters’ powers and the items they make can be difficult to grasp, requiring a reference trawl to identify boats, government positions, and other obscure tidbits. This adds another level of difficulty to a complex story.
But once I understood the overall aesthetics of the world, I was more then intrigued. I liked the concept of magic, felt it was a unique take on the Color Spectrum and its mystical applications. The use of magic with a strong cost also felt quite realistic.
A pretty decent start to a much larger book series. While I prefered the Night Angel trilogy, I was impressed with the new title’s diversity and unusual premise. I look foward to reading the second installment, The Blinding Knife, available now at your local book store or iTunes.