Friday, February 22, 2019

Review: THE BLACK PRISM by Brent Weeks

Rating: 5/5 stars

In The Black Prism, magic is based on colors, where drafters can create a solid form from the different colors in light waves. Each color creates a different texture and has a different property. But the more you draft color, the closer you come to your death because the magic is slowly killing you.

I have been looking forward to reading the Lightbringer series for quite a while, and that small bit about how the magic system worked was all I knew before starting. I didn’t know about the plot at all, but knowing about the color magic that slowly kills its user was enough to hook me into reading the book. While I’ve been excited to read this series, I’ve also felt a bit intimidated because each book is 600-700 pages and I knew it would be a commitment. I shouldn’t have been scared to start the series though because this book was so easy to read. I fell right into the story, even with the new and complex magic system, and I found myself engrossed in the plot and the characters and the magic. I usually can’t sit and read for hours on end but with this book I found it to be easy to do just that. I never wanted to put it down, but life’s duties kept calling.

I actually started this book by reading through the whole glossary and appendix because, a few chapters in, I already had questions and I didn’t want to be confused. This helped me understand the magic system and the world right from the beginning, which I found to be super useful. This is one of those books that I constantly kept referencing the information at the back to keep everything straight in my mind, and I’m so glad the author included these reference materials.

I’m also grateful for the map because I love to reference locations as they’re mentioned in the story. The only problem I had was that the map is upside down—South is at the top—and it took me five minutes of staring at it to realize this. I hope this has some important meaning we find out later because otherwise what’s the point of an upside-down map?

The description of the Chromeria with colorful buildings that turn to always be facing the sun sounds so neat and I wish I could see a city like that in real life, or at least some fanart depiction of it. But as much as I love the Chromeria so far, I feel like it is actually not a very good place.

This book had some pretty great characters. Gavin was a really neat protagonist. I enjoyed learning about him as the Prism and what those duties entail as far as keeping all the colors balanced in the world. He has a lot of secrets, and I loved discovering snippets of these throughout the story. For example, what are his seven purposes? I really want to know!

I also rather enjoyed Kip and the mystery surrounding his parentage because it was clear from the beginning that Gavin wasn’t telling anyone the full story. We got bits and pieces along the way, and I love a good mystery aspect in a book. Although I will say that Kip was rather impulsive at times. He would blurt out offensive statements then immediately be like “crap why did I say that?” I just wasn’t sure why he was acting that way but I guess that’s just who he is.

I still don’t know how I feel about Dazen. It’s interesting that we learned right from the beginning that he wasn’t dead as everyone suspected, and I’m curious to see how this will play out in future books. Because of very spoilery reasons, I actually feel sorry for him right now.

Karris was okay. I mostly just felt like she was angry the whole time, but I guess part of that can be expected because of her history with Gavin. I kept waiting for her to learn the full truth because I wanted so badly to see her reaction. I think I will like her more as the series progresses.

I really liked Liv from the first chapter. And knowing what her mission was and that the Prism didn’t know what or who she was in the beginning just added to the suspense and made me even more excited to keep reading about her. Plus I really like that she’s a superviolet drafter. For some reason, that’s the most interesting color to me, so I loved seeing what she could do with it. Also, she has me very intrigued with what she could do given her position at the end of the book. I’m very excited to see her character progression.

Even though I know Lord Omnichrome is the villain and a terrible person, I can’t help but agree with some of his ideals. What he says about the Chromeria makes sense in a way. The good are not always fully good and the bad are not always fully bad. I’m very curious to see how his beliefs affect other characters and the rest of the story in other books.

One minor problem I had was the writing style at times. Weeks’s writing was good for the most part but occasionally he would explain something and I wouldn’t understand what he was saying and I would be confused about that aspect of the world or magic system. I did have to reread a few paragraphs because of this issue, but for the most part, I thought the writing was good.

One thing, though, that was kind of jarring about Weeks’s writing style was that thoughts in the first person were not italicized. It really threw me off for the first few chapters that I saw it, but it gradually became a normal part of the story and I stopped noticing it as much. I thought this was an interesting way to approach writing in third person, and even though I didn’t think I would like it, I did. It was kind of like third-person limited mixed with first-person.

Something else I didn’t really like was how long the final battle scene was. It was almost two hundred pages long, and by the end, I was just exhausted of reading about the drafters fighting. I much preferred the non-combat scenes of the book. I’m positive there will be many more fight scenes in the later books, so I can only hope they do not last as long or they are written in a way that is more entertaining to me. I was fine with the first three-fourths, but during the very ending I was just wanting to be done with battle and I didn’t really care what happened anymore.

This book was very compelling, not only because of the story itself, but also because each chapter ended on a cliffhanger but the next chapter would be a new character’s perspective. I had to keep reading to find out what happened next for each of the five character perspectives. It’s been awhile since I read a book like this, one where I was actually excited to know what would happen next in such a way.

Overall, I thought The Black Prism was a fantastic book. It has a very unique and impressive magic system, a well-built world, a great cast of characters, some mysterious aspects, intense fight scenes, vivid imagery, and a compelling plot. The writing did take some getting used to in the beginning, but eventually I came to enjoy it. I would recommend to anyone who is looking for an enthralling fast-paced epic fantasy. I’m very much looking forward to where this series takes me on its journey.

“Moments of beauty sustain us through hours of ugliness.”

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