Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
enjoyed this; picked up more towards the end
on March 5, 2015
I read The Black Prism right after it was released and then I didn't get around to this book until a week or so ago. I remembered details about three characters (Kip, Gavin, and Dazen) and a little about luxin and drafting (the magic system in this series, if you haven't read the first one), and that was it. So I spent like the first 1/3 trying to play catch up. And you know? I still found this pretty enjoyable. I would still strongly suggest starting with book one, though, because there is a lot of background information (some of which I managed to retain).
There are a couple of different main POV characters and some short scenes from other perspectives. I'm a little embarrassed to admit how long it took me to understand the significance of the short scenes -- midway through book three! But they *are* important and they do relate to the overall narrative, so pay attention to them.
Gavin is one of the POV characters and he starts the book with a bunch of refugees for whom he's trying to find a home. He then goes around looking for something in the ocean (don't want to spoil anything, so I won't say what he's looking for). As you might expect, it's difficult to find one thing in a big ocean, and the search part drags (though Gavin's part picks up in interest and intensity after the search is over). He's also dealing with some rather large personal problems/secrets that hamper his various efforts.
Kip is another POV character. Gavin has insisted Kip go through Blackguard training (Blackguards are elite guards for the Prism -- Gavin, in this case -- and other members of the Chromeria, the ruling body of the Seven Satrapies). Kip, as you will recall, is overweight and out of shape and from a backwater area. On one hand, it's a rather traditional and trope-ish fantasy training school storyline, but there are a number of interesting side matters and Kip is easy to root for. He still likes to make wisecracks but he's not quite as funny as in the first book (when I remember laughing out loud several times). Kip's parts were my favorites, though.
Teia, a slave in Blackguard training, is a third POV character. She's partnered with Kip, but she has her own issues. She's constantly fearful for her position because of her slave status (slaves who pass the Blackguard trials are freed and their masters are paid large amounts of money). And she's interesting in that she can draft paryl, which I think is Brent Weeks's word for X-rays.
Liv was a friend of Kip's from the first book and she was taken captive by someone calling himself the Color Prince. He objects to the Chromeria's way of running things and is warring against them. Liv's scenes are the only ones where we see inside the Color Prince's camp.
One thing I will say about this book is that Weeks does a very good job pitting the sides against each other. He makes the characters supporting the Chromeria sympathetic (OK, maybe not Andross Guile, who is Kip's grandfather and Gavin's father). But Karris (another Blackguard), Commander Ironfist of the Blackguard, the White (another leader in the Chromeria), and Kip and his fellow trainees (at least the ones he is friendly with) are all good people.
But the Color Prince has some issues with the way the Chromeria does things (like the fact that slavery is allowed in the Seven Satrapies, and what happens with people who draft luxin "too often"), and he has a good point, as well. We sympathize with him less because we spend less time with him. But I think the confrontation in book four (due out next year) should be quite good.
I'm finally starting to be able to keep the different colors of luxin straight in this book. If I went back, I'd probably start to notice a lot of repetition (superviolet drafters are logical, etc.). But hey, it worked.
Overall, I liked the characters, some aspects of the plot were great even though they incorporated tropes, pacing got better as the book went on, and I am really starting to get immersed in the world of this book -- I went straight on to The Broken Eye (book three). This did end on a double cliffhanger, though, which was a little irritating. Definitely a fun series to pick up, though, and an improvement over Weeks's earlier series (the Night Angel trilogy).