Lightbringer: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

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Lightbringer: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: An excellent example of epic fantasy with a plot and characters that will keep you second guessing to the very end. Fantastic start to what promises to be a superb trilogy.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 640 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-184149903

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Gavin Guile is the Prism, the only person able to split light into its entire spectrum of colours, which makes him the most powerful man in the world. Peace between the seven Satrapies relies on his power, his charm and wit. And a fragile peace has been maintained for the past sixteen years, since the False Prism War that devastated the world.

But Prisms only last so long, always in multiples of seven, and never longer than twenty one years. Gavin knows he has five years left. Five years and five great purposes he has yet to achieve.

Trouble is brewing in the north, where a rebellious Lord has proclaimed himself King of the Tyrean Satrapy, renouncing the Prism and the central government of Chromeria. Gavin knows he has to stop the rebellion before it picks up too much momentum, or the peace will be shattered once again. Then he discovers he has an illegitimate son somewhere in Tyrea, and Gavin must decide how far he will go to protect a secret which could destroy everything he’s tried to build.

‘’The Black Prism’’ is an intimidatingly large book. I enjoy fantasy, but I’m always slightly wary when I pick up something by an author I’m new to. For every great fantasy book there’s a lot of pretentious rubbish out there, and I was worried that the length of Weeks’ latest was indication that it would be overburdened with detailed history, minutely described world building and politics and intensely complicated magic. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about.

The size of ‘’The Black Prism’’ is only indicative of the huge imagination Weeks has. Yes there is politics, magic and world building, but it is the story that prevails. And what a story it is – ranging from the high life of the Prism himself, to a young boy struggling to survive in Tyrea, the dangerous, backstabbing life of a young, poor drafter – the magicians of the Chromeria – Weeks’ story explores all facets of his world in a twisting, turning way that weaves expertly together for the final, climactic moments.

Weeks has a real knack for creating characters you can empathise with, while at the same time keeping you guessing what side they are actually on. I didn’t know whether to love or hate about fifty percent of the characters by the end of the book, and with two further instalments to go, I’m sure there is much more intrigue to come.

Of course, something has to be said for the world building – it wouldn’t be a great fantasy novel without it. I’m strongly of the opinion that it’s the mark of a great fantasy writer who has the confidence to throw you in at the deep end and make you work a little, knowing the reader will be disoriented, a tad confused, but trusting they will stick with you until you reveal the details. It does away with the need to dump a load of exposition at the start of the book in tedious prologue form, and creates a much richer experience for the reader.

The physics of the magic is interesting as well. I’m no physicist, but I understand the basic concepts of light, and Weeks explains the magic of drafting light in a way that is totally believable without being overly confusing or condescending.

This is an excellent start to what promises to be a superb trilogy. Highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Fans of epic fantasy might enjoy The Folding Knife by K J Parker. For the start of another high-end fantasy, try The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire) by Andrea Stewart.

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Buy Lightbringer: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lightbringer: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks at


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