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on June 21, 2016
As a voracious reader of fantasy, I've read just about every series out there. The Sword of Truth series, the Kingkiller Chronicles, the Codex Alera series, and The Stormlight Archive just to name a few. What usually bothers me is is just how straightforward the story arch can be. The good guy is miraculously good, discovers incredible powers, fights against bad guy (who is nothing but evil), and succeeds at the very last moment. Sometimes characters are intended to seem intelligent yet they succeed almost purely on luck. In some series the plot will be varied and fascinating, but the writing style will be so verbose you find yourself sloggin through pages and pages to get to the next big thing. Then the story becomes an excercise in waiting for something you know is going to happen.

Brent Weeks' writing style, however, is none of that.

To me the most interesting thing about Brent Weeks is not the twisting and turning of the plot. It's the careful attention he gives to the pacing. He'll cut away from a certain character, leaving you desperately wondering what happens next, but then move into something else completely fascinating and new. You'll forget for a moment how desperate you are to see the next big event. Instead the new perspective is always a perfect compliment, enhancing clarity and furthering the plot in ways that the main story arch could never provide. Even if you do get bored, it wont be for long. There's always something crucial to be seen or learned just a few pages away.

If you like complex world-building that's beautifully creative and easy to understand...
If you like a fast-paced storyline yet appreciate character development...
If you like to see evil and good and everything in between all mixed together...
If you like characters who act as intelligently or stupidly as their personality demands...
If you like social commentary through a diverse cast who each believe in their own principles...
If you like a plot that moves forward by more than the characters' need to not die or not let the bad guy win...
If you like a story that has no clear endgame...
If you like good writing that doesn't bog the story down by being overly styled or descriptive...

This is the series for you.
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on July 2, 2017
I've restarted this review several times, each time trying to qualify my feelings toward the book and each time finding more reasons to actually like it.

Overall, I came away from it feeling "meh". It was typical Brent Weeks' writing style, which I absolutely love, but there were many parts of the story that were a total slog to get through. Kip's character was pretty annoying, and I wanted Karris to be so much more. I'm giving my judgment of annoyance for the Prism's character a pass for now because I think there is a lot more depth to come in the following books.
The color analogies really bothered me, too, but I guess you have to define your basis for the magical realm somewhere, so now we have Prism, Spectrum, Chromeria, the White, etc. Okay, fine.
I also felt let down by Gavin Guile because it left me with more confusion over his conflicting character rather than mystery.

I did like the portrayal of the Chromeria as being corrupt. The Freeing left me feeling very uneasy and almost on the side of the rebels fighting for the wights.
I also really liked Liv's character because I felt like she was probably the most realistic, being from a poor background and having to face the corruption and blackmail of more powerful people.

All in all, it took me a long time to come around to the idea of liking this story. There were definitely parts I couldn't put it down, but the huge chunk of the book that was the battle was a drag.

I think I will read the second book now that I've had a chance to analyze how I felt about the first, but altogether I wouldn't call this my favorite - especially having read the Night Angel trilogy first which is by far one of my favorite series ever.
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on January 8, 2015
This book disappointed me. I see that the majority of the reviews are very positive - one of the deciding factors in purchasing the book myself. The book is decent and I will likely read the others as filler in between release from my favorite authors. Weeks is a smart guy, that's very apparent in his writing. He has demonstrated some amazing creativity with the elaborate complexity of the system of magic he has created in this series, as well as the culture and politics of the world in which it is cast. Set and setting are not the weak points here. The under-developed and, in my opinion, neglected characters are where I take issue.

It seems to me that Weeks is so eager to showcase his system of magic that he neglects to truly develop his characters. They aren't given the elaborate back stories that you see in works by the current "heavyweights" in the Fantasy Adventure genre. There are no quirks to their personalities that make them particularly endearing. Their dialog often seem completely random and is then often explained, at unnecessary length, in the middle of a conversation. It gets really monotonous and my tendency is loose interest in the middle of dialog. I often have to go back and reread it to understand it's entire context. With well developed characters, this simply isn't necessary. Good dialog carries itself.

I just didn't care about the characters at all. There is no emotional investment. The action is great. The plot has SO MUCH potential. The system of magic is sufficient to rival something from Sanderson's works. To me, all of it means nothing without characters I can inspire emotion. The result is a very bland overall read that left me wanting to play video games or watch a movie instead.
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on July 2, 2016
Man. If you enjoyed Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy, then gird your loins my friend. Because damn, this book is tasty. So many good things, I'm not sure where to begin.

The Magic:
I highly appreciate the mixture of magic and reality that Brent uses to create his system of magic. I found it quite refreshing compared to series that just have magicians who apparently get to do whatever they want by chanting some words or some nonsense. The magic system is simple enough to appreciate conceptually, and yet complex enough to not get bored with it.

The Plot:
Love it. I can honestly say I was genuinely surprised at several points during the book. I'm always impressed with the author when I find myself saying "Wow. I did NOT see that coming."

The Characters:
Yep. Brent builds a diverse set of believable, complex characters that you love, hate, and make you want to throw the book at the wall for how frustrated they make you feel.


Stop reading that ridiculous romance novel, and buy this book instead.
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on August 30, 2016
I always thought the idea of light and color based magic sounded a little cheesy, but after seeing so many rave reviews for the Lightbringer series, I decided that I had to at least give it a try. Can I just apologize for making judgments? This was one of the most interesting and laugh out loud funny books I’ve read in so long! I was constantly grinning and laughing about one character or another’s antics and it was an absolute joy to read.

The whole premise of the light magic is incredibly fascinating and has a good logic to it. The Prism (Gavin Guile) can wield all colors in the spectrum from sub-red to superviolet and doesn’t have to worry about overextending himself to the same degree that other “drafters” do. He’s more of a religious symbol than a political power, though he does have significant influence over the other colors and keeps a balance on the amount of color drafted. Other drafters can be monochromes, bichromes, or polychromes, wielding one, two, or multiple colors respectively. They can overuse their power and break turn into color wights which are basically varying degrees of madmen and are killed as soon as possible to keep order and prevent chaos from reigning.

The plot was rich- an abundance of action, a plethora of plot twists, and you would not believe the subplots and the games within games. It’s truly a thing of beauty. The best plot twist didn’t happen at the end of the book, but rather in the first third. It was one of the most mind-blowing revelations that I’ve EVER come across in my many years of reading. HOLY CRAP IT WAS AWESOME. I read the rest of the book with an entirely different mindset because it changed everything I thought I knew. For this alone I think fantasy readers should give it a go.

The actual characters, their choices, and actions are what really made this book so on point. The Prism is likable and charismatic and the man has a seven year plan, which is respectable. Everyone should have goals. Karris White Oak is one tough chick- she bounced back from relationship rejection to become a powerful fighter and drafter in the Blackguards. Kip though might be my favorite because he’s the one that kept making me laugh. His lines were spectacular, for instance, “Oh, the little brother comparison. Just what every man wants to hear from a beautiful woman. I’ve just been castrated”. That’s not even the best one because I forgot to tag the best one (silly me). Liv Danavis is also amazing and it’s great to read a book where there are two awesome female characters and they aren’t immediately lovestruck. I could go on, but I’ll spare you people.

I hope that anyone out there who was initially skeptical of this book will give it a chance like I did and find it to be enjoyable at the very least. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series and did I mention that The Blood Mirror comes out later this year?? Well, it does, so I can go ahead and binge read if I feel like it! I would like to do an in depth analysis or discussion post about some of the characters or the storyline of this book (and others) – perhaps I’ll find the time to do that soon!
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on January 13, 2018
I just finished this book last night. It took me about three months to finish, which is longer than usual for a book I really enjoyed overall. I picked this up after completing Mr. Weeks’s original series, The Night Angel Trilogy. I really saw his writing and prose grow in strength throughout his debut series and was captured by the finale.

So, naturally I had to try his next series. I have to say he did a fantastic job introducing and entirely fresh and original magic system. The color spectrum and corresponding magic, mostly involving a substance called, “luxin.” Which is essentially a physical representation of the varied color magic, holding different consistences between solid and gas states. This system was somewhat complicated and took me a while to grasp. By the end of the 626 page book, I’m still not entirely sure I know how it all works. Luckily there are at least three more tomes full of luxin fun!

There was a ton of action, fighting and plot movement. All of which was explained and written in a way that kept you wanting to keep reading! I particularly love the short chapters, ranging from 3-10 pages in length. This works so well if you have a very busy life and just want to get a taste in each day. One aspect really lacking in this book, was any romance line. I really like the dynamic of having that in epic fantasy books and I was pretty disappointed to find it missing here.

To conclude, I thought this story was fantastic and would highly recommend to those who enjoy the fantasy genre. I will be starting the second book, The Binding Knife, soon.

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on January 2, 2014
I read this book at the suggestion of another Amazon reviewer (thanks, lukevega!) who’d enjoyed my rave review of Anthony Ryan’s “Blood Song” and thought I might enjoy this Brent Weeks novel too. He was right: This book fully merits a rave. Weeks has built a complex, self-consistent, believable world of vicious dynastic infighting, sword-and-musket combat, and, most critically, an amazingly well thought-out system of powerful sorcery based on the properties of light and color. We see this largely through the eyes of Kip, a 15 year-old boy whose ordinary problems (drug-addled mother, no father) are suddenly eclipsed when the local satrap slaughters his village and he has to flee for his life. He winds up at “the Chromeria” learning to “draft” (do color magic) under the tutelage of the legendary Lord Prism, Gavin Guile, who triumphed in the horribly destructive civil war of sixteen years earlier. But that war’s not really over. Only a tiny handful of people know what REALLY happened to end the war, and now events are spinning out of control again. Gavin reluctantly goes to war, and Kip goes with him; and Gavin’s old flame Karris White Oak is a prisoner of the enemy (well, AN enemy; there are layers and layers here. Weeks’ plotting is superb). One of the things I liked best about this book is that in the midst of deadly serious events – war, death, desperation, heroism – Weeks will often have somebody say or think something that’s just laugh-out-loud funny. His characters really have some smarts and subtlety to them. And as I say, the world-building is obsessive, with a map, list of characters, glossary, appendices, the works. Can’t recommend this book highly enough. (Be aware: The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger and, like most big, sprawling novels nowadays, most of the storylines are far from wrapped up, because they’re continued in the next book. Which I will most certainly be buying. )
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on August 25, 2017
I loved so much about this book-- the entertaining dialogue, the twisting plot, the realistic characters (no clear cut good guys & bad guys), and possibly the best portrayal of a woman character I've ever seen (in Karris). My boyfriend and I listened to this book together and we love discussing character motivations, theorizing about secrets and twists, and drawing comparisons to our own world's struggles with governance and politics. This story would make an amazing TV show! I cannot believe I waited so long to read this, but at the same time I'm happy there are now many sequels out for me to read :) Highly recommended, just give it a try and you will be hooked!
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on December 31, 2012
Author Brent Weeks has developed a magic and religious system based on light and the different colors of the spectrum that I found engaging, and set it all in a rich and detailed world.

So what went wrong for me? Two things: the characters had no magic and the magic had no character.

The more I've studied fantasy fiction, the more demanding I've become for strong characters. I don't mean characters who are strong, decisive or opinionated. Black Prism has those in spades. What I mean is stories that are strong in the character dimension. And for me, that includes likeability. I want at least one character to root for - somebody I give a damn about. But by the 30% point in this story, I was already struggling to stay engaged. Sure, there are several candidates, characters that I suspect Weeks wanted me to like, but none of them ever really clicked for me. Some are too whiny, some are too arrogant, and some are too... well, too something.

At three different points, I was so disinterested in the cast and their various plights that I considered abandoning the book, but I hung on. Mostly, I hung on as a professional exercise. I wanted to see if I could figure out what it was that wasn't working for me, to improve my own writing, and I suppose that was a good thing, because in the end, I got engaged enough with the unfolding events that I finished it to see how the story ended. But now that it's done, I don't find that I care enough about any of the events or people to bother with the next book. None of the characters had enough of that indefinable, magical quality about them to earn my affection.

And then there's the actual magic. Using light and the color spectrum is a great idea for the basis of a magic system. But Weeks took it too far for my tastes, falling victim to what I think of as the power paradox. The more powerful a magic is, the more cataclysmic the stakes have to be in order to present a challenge to the magic users, but the more dire the stakes become, the less relatable the characters tend to be, since we readers cannot really empathize with people who can do enormous things with a thought and a hand-gesture.

For my tastes, Weeks missed the balance on this in two ways. First, his magic system stretched credibility. (Your characters can create literally TONS of physical material out of nothing but sunlight and concentration? Really? In a few seconds? Come on!) And second, the stakes just don't seem high enough to justify giving his characters that much power. The major magic users are too overwhelmingly powerful, leaving the suspense dangling, limp and un-suspensey. And as these guys dashed around, gesturing right and left, spewing TONS of magical matter-crap at their enemies, I couldn't help but see them in my inner eye as being a bit like firefighters, waving their watery, magic hoses at people. Sorry, just not the mental imagery I want from credible hero-magicians, thank you very much.

The story's not bad though, all things considered, and there were some nice turns of fortune and all of that, so if you can get past the bits that bothered me, you might find this right up your alley.
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VINE VOICEon April 30, 2012
Inside this massively long fantasy thriller is a fantastic story waiting to be pruned from among the extraneous descriptions that Brent Weeks padded these pages with. There are some terrific characters here, and a twisting plot with lots of surprises, good dialogue, and a complicated magic system and theology that will leave you marveling at as you read them. Sadly, if you're like me, you'll also find yourself zipping along, skimming page after page after page of the many fight scenes where there is no suspense but lots of description of our main characters running through carnage and escaping --- yet again--- unscathed. I also thought the 20 page chapter where the main character built a castle wall using the magics he possesses to be more than boring. Ho-hum.

A bad editor would have trimmed 10% of this book's girth, a good editor would have taken out 20% of the pages. Weeks should DEMAND a better editor next time out.

He is a gifted storyteller, but is far too early into his career to be treated like Stephen King, and needs a firm editor to keep his stories entertaining.

I will read the next book in this series...but am not going to rush out and buy it right away.
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