Several years ago, I asked my husband to find me a new author and surprise me with a book for my birthday. Usually I give him a list of books, or at least authors, and he selects from there. While I always get something I want, I’m never surprised. Armed with the names of some of my favorite authors, he went to our local independent and asked for help from the excellent staff. They suggested The Black Prism by Brent Weeks, first book in the Lightbringer series.
I quickly became enamored of the magic system in the world. People with the ability to use magic to turn light into tangible substances are called drafters. Each color of light having different characteristics and properties. The level of detail into the way magic works in the world is breathtaking in the thoroughness that Weeks has put into it. Beyond the magic are the politics and power scheming, mixed with the messiness of a religion whose leader doesn’t have any faith, and betrayal on a variety of levels. This is epic fantasy on a grand scale with a diverse cast of voices telling the story.
The Lightbringer series is five books long and a staggering 3,723 pages combined (at least according to my brief googling), the final book, The Burning White, is 913 on it’s own. The whole way through the series I was gripped by what was happening. Often at the edge of my seat, Weeks can certainly write engaging action sequences. The plot kept twisting and turning as characters would gain new information or be maneuvered against by opposing forces. A war of opposing religious beliefs has been waging, and The Burning White in particular dives deeply into the religion of the world as characters grapple with faith and beliefs in the time leading up to, and during, the final conflict.
In the final volume, Weeks pulls together all the threads that he has spun outwards in the different plot lines for each character in a fairly satisfactory manner. Everyone has gone on an incredible journey (often both literal and figurative) and they are all quite different from the people we were introduced to four books ago. For the most part it’s a happy ending but a bittersweet one for all that has been lost along the way.
I admire Week’s use of language, every so often he uses a word I’ve never seen before. And this alliterative sentence is a great example. It amused me enough to mark with a sticky tab.
She translates my every blink and half-formed grin and twitched expression effortlessly, perfectly, my puzzling heart pellucid to her perspicacity.
By the time I was finished reading, there were quite a few sticky tabs marking things that stood out and I might want to reference for this review. However, many of these things are not feasible to work into the review. Sometimes it was a moment in time, like when a married couple have the realization that in a few more years they will be able to telegraph entire conversations with a glance but for now are limited to just, “What?!”. Occasionally it was a character gaining a deeper understanding of what exactly is going on. Others it was a bit of life wisdom presented in a way I’ve not encountered before, usually in relation to mirrors or light. Such as,
Mirrors break us into pieces because that’s how the eye focuses: one detail at a time, a prism splitting our whole experience, but the heart can be a second prism brought to the first, bringing that which is split back into a whole.
However, while reading The Burning White, I did find my attention wandering from time to time. And I think part of that comes down to how verbose Weeks is. He gives you every thought in the characters heads and they are all loquacious in their thinking . Occasionally, I would have to back up on the page to reconnect the thread of conversation that is happening verbally along with the internal monologue. Every now and again moments in the story felt a little repetitive. This book is a beast, in a good way, but I wonder if another pass of editing would have trimmed it up a bit. My attention wandering is why I gave this book a three star. I would rate the series overall as 4 stars.