The Black Prism
By: Brent Weeks
My Rating: Five out of Five Stars
Best for: 16 and up
Sept 2019 Re-read:
Book five comes out the end of this month, so I’m doing a re-read. Holy cow, did I get this one wrong the first time.
I loved this book this time around!
Apparently back in 2016 I was feeling particularly dense, because the negative things I called out in my original review are not clicking for me this time.
This story was awesome! I suspect it has to do with the complexity here, and knowing what I know of the rest of the series has given me a different perspective.
So I say take my original review with a grain of salt. I’ll leave it here because it might add some perspective, but man–I feel like I got some stuff wrong the first time.
The characters are brilliantly written, the detail in the world building is outstanding, and the magic system rivals Sanderson’s best work.
Still 16 and up for the same reasons mentioned below–I did get that right!
A perfect blend of annoying and awesome
Man, this book took me a long time to read.
It’s not just my busy schedule. Sure, it’s the Holiday’s and life is busy. But it’s also that for every time The Black Prism was awesome, there was another time I wanted to drop-kick it across the room.
(NOTE: Downside of reading on a Kindle…no drop-kicking it across the room)
Let’s do the awesome first.
A Sanderson-esque, unique magic system based on the color spectrum. It’s a bit confusing early on, but ends up working well in the end.
Morally ambiguous good guys and bad guys. I loved this aspect the most. I’ve read it and I’m still not exactly sure who I should be rooting for. I’ll be looking for resolution as this series continues, but it’s really cool to watch the “good” guy be the keeper of some really nasty secrets. He and the reader are the only ones who know the truth, and watching him dance around his web of lies is fantastic. The “bad” guy…he’s leading a rebellion—but is he really the bad guy if he’s right?
The heroes of this story? They are all making decisions based on the lies and misdirections spun by those aforementioned good and bad guys—resulting in some great story lines for us to enjoy.
There are mysteries to solve, characters to root for, characters to hate, twists you don’t expect, and questions that need to be answered, all leading to an exciting battle climax and leaving you wanting more.
So, ya. It’s pretty cool.
How about the annoying?
I felt like The Black Prism was written by a horny 15-year-old boy with no life experience and an over-active imagination. Lots of focus on breasts and cleavage. Very awkward with anything relating to women. (Moon blood? Soooo weird.)
More: everyone has slaves. There are personal slaves that act like administrative assistants. Slaves that pick your clothes, slaves that clear your room, slaves that make your food. Need something done? There’s a slave for that. Want sex? You’ve got a slave who is willing to take care of you. The problem is, these aren’t slaves. They’re servants. You can’t be lackadaisical about using the term slave unless you mean slave. I found this very uncomfortable. And I hated that the “good” guy keeps a sex slave. Just wrong.
Still more: The main character is an idiot. He’s so hard to root for. He says dumb things. He thinks dumb things. He does dumb things. I have high hopes for this guy’s character development in future books because the bar for him is set very, very low.
Not done yet: Things get violent. Not so violent that it crosses a line for me, but it does feel awkward in this story because of the general juvenile feeling throughout.
Oh, and while I’m being nitpicky: The title of the book–The Black Prism–has nothing to do with the story. Lots of talk of “Prism,” but a Black Prism? Nothing. I have no idea what the title refers to. Minor, I know. But drives me crazy.
I’m going to read the rest of the series. I want to know the resolutions, and I want to see how the good guy/bad guy dynamic shakes out. Is this going to a story of redemption or a story of rebellion and overthrowing the oppressive regime?
Watch out for some language, some PG sex scenes, and some R rated violence. 16 and up.