The Black Prism is a fantasy story of epic proportion. At first, I was a bit daunted by the number of pages, but when reading, it didn’t feel like a long book. A lot happens and there wasn’t a moment I felt bored.
The Black Prism follows Guile, who is the Prism and thus the most powerful man. However, Prisms don’t last and he doesn’t know yet how long he still has left to live. He finds out he has a son, named Kip, who we also follow in the story. Kip lives in a Kingdom further away, torn by the war that put Guile in his position of power.
“It’s better that the innocent should live than that the guilty die.”
The story has some amazing twists with unexpected revelations. In particular one of them, which happens about a third in the book. We follow a few different characters throughout the book. While that sometimes can become confusing, all these characters had such distinct voices, making it enjoyable to read. The world is super interesting and complex, not to mention the magic system in place called Chromaturgy. It was also this complexity that made it a bit difficult for me to get through the first couple of pages. However, once I had more of a grasp of it, it became an incredible read.
There are two main characters to this story, as mentioned before, Gavin Guile and Kip. As the Prism, Gavin has a huge amount of power, especially in the magic he wields. Chromaturgy is a magic-system of colors, and while some can wield the power of one, two or even three colors, only the Prism can wield all the colors on the spectrum. He’s also charming and witty, but also full of secrets of his own. Kip is on the opposite side, a fat teenager full of self-loathing. His story is a sad one, and you long for him to see his own worth. Still, I enjoyed reading his chapters the most because he never takes himself too seriously and is really funny.
“If embarrassment were a muscle, I’d be huge.“
Other mentionable characters in this story are the fierce warrior Karris, who is part of ‘the Black Guard’ (a guard vowed to protect the Prism). I always love it when a book has a strong female character who can kick some butts. There’s also Ironfist, the commander of the Guard, and Liv, Kip’s crush and a student of Chromaturgy at the academy. I thought the characters were fleshed out really well and all had their own distinct personalities.
As I said before, the world is complex and rich with details. This is why the first couple of 100 pages have more info dumps in them because you need to learn all the complex rules associated with the magic system, what the layout of the world is, what’s going on politically, etc. But I promise, once you get through the learning curve the story is amazing. Not to mention that there is still plenty going on in between the info dumps.
“You might want to think twice before you try to use a man’s conscience against him. It may turn out he doesn’t have one.”
There is one scene that had me cringing a bit. It’s the period scene – one of the female characters having her period at an inopportune time. Yes, it’s a thing that happens, yes it’s uncomfortable and can hurt like a b*tch. But was it really necessary? I think not. I can understand how the writer might think it would make it more realistic, but books generally also don’t have scenes showing characters going to the bathroom and stuff, right? Also, the character didn’t have a period in 6 months, which I’m not sure is possible if you have a healthy body. But I’m not a doctor, so… What did strike me, was that the character was wearing a dress a bit later, while still bleeding, without any mention of pads or whatever, yet there was no sign of leaking? Where did the blood go?
Anyway, moving on. I’ll just banish that scene from my thoughts. The writing and pacing in the Black Prims overall were great. The book just kept on building and building, ending in an amazing battle sequence. As I said, it never felt like I was reading a book of such length. I was sucked into the story and the ending did leave me wanting to continue the series.
So, to conclude: Black Prism is an epic fantasy story that will grip you once you get the grasp of the intricate magic system and the world’s politics. The writing and pacing overall are good, with plenty of action, just with the occasional info dump.