I just “finished” a series, called the Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks. “Finished” because I just completed reading the third book in the series; “finished” because the series isn’t yet done but won’t release another book until next year.
Overall, I like it. The originality is great. The complexity is great. And although the book is based on a foundation of lies and deceit, the reader isn’t shocked with a slap-in-the-face discovery but led through a plot that makes sense even as it astounds.
Because these books were gargantuan – each one over 700 pages – I would like to back track to review the plot. Because each of these books holds multiple POV’s, I want to pose the question: is each one necessary?
Basically, do they support the plot?
The foundation of this story is based on Seven Satrapies – seven countries who follow a religion that honors a single god, Orholam. In their legends, Orholam created mankind, also called the old gods, from light. And one of those original men stole the light, who is called the Lightbearer. He split the light into multiple colors and used it to create more men, human ones in his own image. The plot that follows in this series is many times later, where civilization has expanded to include certain beliefs and customs, where Orholam acts through the Prism to ‘chain’ the light. The main idea of these customs include that the people follow the Prism as their religious leader, and although his power is mitigated by the Spectrum (a sort of congress with each country/color represented by a different leader), the Prism is the one the people look to for guidance. Because he can balance the colors in the land, honoring color stability, most of the country looks to him for peace. (Weeks 478-479, The Broken Eye).
As further background, when light was split into multiple colors, this included paryl (similar to microwaves), sub-red (similar to infrared), red, orange, yellow, green, blue, superviolet, and chi (similar to x-rays), including two more “colors” called black (absence of light) and white (all colors combined). The idea is that, while most people of the land are normal ‘humans,’ others have the power to absorb one color and transform it into luxin – a colored substance that can form solid objects. For example, someone with blue powers can draft a blue sword by looking at a blue sky and absorbing it through their eyes into their skin. This power carries restrictions since each color has its own weight, tactility, scent, personality-influences, emotional-influences, and purposes. Some people can also draft more than one color, called bichromes (for 2 colors) or polychromes (for 3+).
Also to note in Orholam’s beliefs, the legends say there will come a man named the Lightbringer – a man who “will slay or has slain gods and kings…is a genius of magic, a warrior who will sweep, or has swept, all before him, a champion of the poor and downtrodden, great from his youth, He Who Shatters” (Weeks 772, The Broken Eye). Basically, he’s a rescuer of the people, but the people have not agreed whether he has come already, is here now, or will come in the future.
This brings us to current day, where the current Prism “Gavin” has secretly replaced his brother, “Dazen,” during the Prism War over a decade ago. He is one of the main characters that the books revolve around, being that he plays a strong hand within the fate of the countries politically, religiously, socially…in every sense. He influences everything.
Because his importance is ingrained within the foundation of this society, he is a necessary character. Not only that, but through his simple lie – of changing places with his similar-looking older brother – he has changed the natural course of the Prism’s customs and his relationships with family and friends, none of whom know about his deception. Because Gavin has lasted for such a long time (16 years), with most Prisms not lasting beyond 7,14, or 21 years, he thinks he will last 5 more (13, The Black Prism). As such, he promises himself to fulfill five great purposes within that time. All these hopes fall apart when he reads a note, “I’m dying, Gavin. It’s time you meet your son Kip. – Lina” (13).
Who is this son of his? And is it truly his or his brother’s?
From this preliminary discussion, I think this was great perspective for the story, and by giving him depth, where he was interwoven in the land’s religious history, recent political history from the Prism War, and still has complex lies/deception within the lands current politics, his influence echoes throughout the series.
He is a great addition, and through a deep character study, new writers can learn a lot from him.
Weeks, Brent. The Black Prism. New York, NY: Orbit, 2010. Print.
Weeks, Brent. The Broken Eye. New York, NY: Orbit, 2014. Print.