Light Cannot Be Chained : The Black Prism Review


Excess is a problem I deal with every day of my life. A first world problem perhaps, but a problem. When I discover a new song it’s thrown on repeat for the next two weeks. On the nights I make pasta I force feed myself the whole box. Apparently left overs are for the weak. It’s impossible to kill a half hour playing video games. I attempt one game of FIFA then the next thing I know it’s three in the morning and I’m cursing off this kid in France. In regards to those that I enjoy there is no moderation. It’s all or nothing. Unless we are talking about fantasy novels. For whatever the reason, I’m able to spread out my reading so I can savor every fantastical moment. That would explain why I only just now have read The Black Prism by Brent Weeks.

This is Brent Week’s first book from his Lightbringer series. His first series, the Night Angel trilogy, received positive reviews and earned Weeks many devoted fans. The premise revolved around the life and politics of being an assassin. I haven’t read it (mostly because I’m a little bored of the assassin trope), but I may have to give it a try after how much I enjoyed The Black Prism.

Gavin Guile is our lead character in the book. There are multiple point of view characters throughout, but everything runs through Gavin. He’s a high priest and emperor, while being the most powerful drafter in the world. They call him The Prism. First off, Weeks attempts to paint a distinct magic system. Drafters are those who can draft colors using Luxin. Luxin is, from my limited understanding, something that makes their color usage potent. It allows them to make red swords, shields, fireballs, arrows, etc. It’s the substance that is formed with their color. Each drafter can usually draft one color. Red drafters are usually angrier and more forceful. Green drafters focus more on life and are more prone to take chances. Also, to be able to draft you need to visibly see the color around you. Green drafters tend to make their homes in forests for this reason. Blue drafters prefer to be around water. You get the picture.

Now Gavin, The Prism, is able to draft ALL colors. This is what makes him so dominant. He can also do it much faster than most. It takes energy and will to draft something. These are the things that make him so special, so powerful. And yet he is like the pope or Queen Elizabeth. He doesn’t really matter much when it comes to politics. As powerful as Gavin is, he has agreed to be more of a symbol. They have representatives (ten to be exact) who make up the laws and regulations. Gavin’s sole job is to take out creatures known as “wights”. Wights are former drafters who have had too much Luxin build up after years of drafting. Prisms usually have a shorter life span than any one else. After being named The Prism, they normally live for only seven more years. If you survive beyond seven, then you have another seven years, and so on. For Gavin it’s been sixteen. This is almost unheard of and realistically he only has five more years left.

Woof. Chances are you didn’t follow most of that. And it’s okay. Weeks does a better job at it than I did but it’s still pretty confusing. His magic system is very detailed, much like Brandon Sanderson’s, but after reading all six hundred pages you start to get the feel of it. The magic system isn’t all that important anyways. Just know that Gavin has five years left to live….when he finds out he has a bastard son. All right settle down. Yes it’s another played out trope, but he makes it work. There is a HUGE twist revealed within the first hundred or so pages. It’s the most ambitious thing I’ve ever seen an author do. All I could think of was how difficult it must of been for the author to write the book after the reveal. It’s pretty cool.

So Gavin’s bastard son is named Kip. He’s fat, useless, and a coward. We’ve seen it all before in fantasy novels. Personally, I’m not a fan of Kip or his chapters. He makes way too many jokes about himself throughout the book. In the beginning I get it, he’s a self loathing young adult. He’s self conscious and awkward around girls. But you don’t have to beat me to death with this information. I picked it up right away. Still, I enjoy his inner fight regarding where his loyalties lie.

What I really enjoyed about the book was the Chromeria. It’s like a church/government for the drafters. Once the elite drafters reach that certain age where they die (or turn to wights, and become hunted by Gavin) they are killed in a religious manner by Gavin himself. They meet Gavin in a room, the two of them have a conversation, the drafter then confesses to Gavin (who in turn relays that information to their god), and then Gavin stabs them through the heart. As The Prism, Gavin has a one way connection to their god Orholam. He is the only one who can talk to him. The funny thing is….Gavin’s an atheist. Obviously the readers are the only one who know this, but it’s an interesting premise.

This makes the resistance (and their rebellious leader) even more intriguing. He doesn’t believe drafters should sacrifice themselves to the Chromeria for a false god. And he has an excellent point. The best part…I’m sure we’ll find out Gavin totally agrees with him. But that’s for something The Blinding Knife will have to decide.