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

Color is magic and war is imminent, and when a corrupt leader discovers his bastard son, the game may change forever.

Wow. The Black Prism completely blew me away! I had heard absolutely nothing about it before buying it thanks to a $2.99 Kindle deal. I figured I could risk it. I had a little trouble getting into it at first, mostly because I have started and given up on so many bad fantasy novels that I’m primed for disappointment. I wasn’t sure about it but I was interested enough to keep reading–and then all of a sudden I was totally hooked.

I can’t judge the story because this is only book 1 of a trilogy. So who knows, maybe it will totally fizzle out. But I will say I am DYING to read The Blinding Knife because Gavin Guile is on par with Tyrion Lannister as one of the most multi-faceted, intriguing characters I’ve ever come across in a fantasy novel. Weeks does a masterful job of creating such slippery moral edges that I have at least two opinions of every character, and when it comes to Gavin I’ve got 7–one for each color of the rainbow.

The basic premise is this: magic works through colors. Each color has a different fundamental character and solidifies in a different way. Blue makes hard, sharp structures, where orange is slippery and oozy. Magicians can manipulate one, two, or many colors, and this is a skill you are born with. Almost all magicians need to be able to see a color in order to work with it, but Gavin Guile is an exception. He can split light himself, and that is why he is the Prism, the religious leader of the realm. He used to be the military leader but gave that up.

Gavin Guile’s reign is haunted by the circumstances surrounding his installation as Prism. He fought with his younger brother, also able to split light, and killed him in a war that tore the land asunder. 16 years later the echoes of war are still being felt, and revolution is brewing in a satrapy that has been occupied since the war. Gavin has also just learned of a bastard he fathered while betrothed to Karris White Oak, a powerful magician who serves as an elite warrior in service to Gavin. This bastard, Kip, has great powers–but is running an agenda of his own.

The intricate politics, deft characterization, and suspensefully crafted narrative make this book a must read for all epic fantasy fans. I can already think of a dozen people I need to recommend this to.

Brent Weeks just earned himself a new fan. A big new fan.

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