“The Black Prism” by Brent Weeks. New York, NY: Orbit Books, 2013.
Meet Gavin Guile, the Prism. Literally the most powerful and revered person in all the Seven Satrapies. In this world, many people can utilize, or draft, a color to make a substance called “luxin” which then can be crafted into any number of things depending on the color. Some people are able to draft two colors, and very few three. The Prism is an individual that can draft every one of the seven colors precisely and effortlessly. There is only one per generation, and at most they live for 21 years after becoming the Prism. Gavin is essentially a hero and protector for the people of the satrapies, and is the holiest person in the land, doing the work of Orholam. He has a complicated relationship with Karris, a red/green bichrome, due to breaking off an engagement after the war.
Meet Kip, a 15-year-old from a small town called Tyrea. Kip’s the butt of jokes and gets constantly picked on by the local bully. His mother is addicted to drugs, and he has no idea who his father is. He works in town for Master Danavis, a talented local red drafter who is like a father to him. He has a thing for Danavis’ daughter Liv, but she left town a couple of years ago. Despite this, things could be a lot worse. Unfortunately, the self-proclaimed King Garadul decides to have his men burn Kip’s town to the ground and kill everyone in sight to assert his authority.
As fate would have it, Gavin discovers that Kip is his illegitimate son from an affair he had 16 years ago. To quote Gavin, “You have to be a little bad to make history.” He proceeds to take him under his wing and begins training him. Kip first must take the Thresher, an examination administered by the Chromeria, the central ruling body over the Seven Satrapies, in order to see where his color drafting talent lies on the spectrum.
In the background, the gears of war are in motion. Garadul is in league with “color wights”, powerful drafters that have pushed their abilities to a breaking point for greater power at the cost of their sanity. Their plan is to overthrow the Chromeria and the Prism to establish a new order free of Chromeria’s perceived hypocrisy. It has been 16 years since the False Prism’s war that pitted Gavin Guile against his younger brother Dazen, whom he would ultimately kill, for the rightful title of Prism. In the fallout, things changed for Gavin and everyone that knew the brothers. He was never quite the same after that fateful day…
Full of intrigue, action, humor, wit, memorable characters and an inventive magic system, this first book of Weeks’ Lightbringer series is sure to entertain fans of authors such as George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, or Jim Butcher.
Ray King is a Circulation Assistant at Graham Public Library and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org