Welcome to the first installment of our read along of “The Black Prism” by Brent Weeks. Weeks is Author Guest of Honor at this year’s JordanCon and a fabulous writer. JordanCon Fantasy Track Director Tiff Franklin is your host for these blogs. Let’s get started!
At first, I was going to do this as a chapter by chapter read along. I had really good intentions. Then I started reading and I was halfway through Chapter 2 before I realized I had passed Chapter 1. Ooops.
But this tells me something else. This is not a book meant to be read chapter by chapter. I mean, you could, I guess. Probably even string the chapters relating to particular characters together in a re-read somewhere.
So, why these chapters lumped together? Well, Because each of these introduces us to a different character, shows us a bit about them as people, and answers the question of, “what do these people have in common to be strung together in the first three chapters like beads on a necklace?”
Here, let me show you what I mean…
Chapter 1- Kip
In this chapter you meet a fifteen year old boy, Kip. He’s hunting in a former battle ground for a mysterious substance that I am assuming he sells for money. There’s a hint about what he’s looking for pretty quickly in the chapter. “Most of the magic used in the battle had dissolved sooner or later in the years of sun exposure, but here and there, broken green luxin spears still glittered. Shards of solid yellow underfoot would cut through the toughest shoe leather.” Now, this is a field last used in battle 16 years ago and scavengers had made off with most of the good stuff already, but stuff gets churned up by erosion, so he is hunting for it. According to Kip, the best time to find it is just as the sun comes up.
Having established his purpose, now we get to the goods. There’s someone keeping a watch on the place all of a sudden and he comes upon two men near a campfire. One is dead, the other is bound with his head covered. He says he’s a green. I found the bit about his eyes really interesting, too. The color isn’t held around the iris, but it’s scattered all through the surface of his eyeball. As soon as Kip notices this, the guy starts talking about madness. We also see that Kip knows enough about what this means, he thinks about drafting (whatever that means) and calls him a color wight. Further reading brings up names and places that will probably be important later: King Garadul, Chromeria. We learned Rekton is the village Kip lives in. We also learn that Kip has blue eyes, which is apparently an oddity and tells the Wight that this kid is who his boss is after and that there’s a prophesy about him. We don’t have a clue what the prophesy says, but there it is, dropped into a conversation and left there to hang. He also tells him that there is an army there, sent from King Garadul to destroy Rekton for defying him. The wight drops later that Kip has something the king wants and that’s why Rekton was chosen for this display of might.
There is some more information dropped by the wight that we don’t have any clue about translating and some of it even confuses Kip. “Broken the halo,” for example. I do find it funny that “greens don’t do rules and hierarchy,” but that’s probably from my WoT background. We have rules, just not ones anyone else likes to follow… *coughs*
We learn the wight’s name: Gaspar, and that he’s “done for” when the sun comes up. This sounds like a death sentence, but I’m honestly not sure who’s delivering the sentence. At first, it felt a bit like a firing squad at dawn, but at the end of this chapter, when the sun DOES come up, Gaspar takes his lenses off and the green from his eyes leaks through his skin. Gaspar laughs about this and Kip runs, then a group of soldiers and a red drafter attack Gaspar, who runs INTO them.
So, I’ve got questions and a prediction after this one.
1- Who is Kip? He’s obviously important, because he’s different than everyone else except the one guy who isn’t from Rekton originally.
2- Why is Master Danavis in Rekton?
PREDICTION: This is Guile’s kid. According to the write up on the back, The Prism has a kid in a bad place and he has to choose between saving the kid and tearing his world apart. Kip only has a mother. Apparently a worthless mother, but a mother, nonetheless.
2- What is a Color Wight? Evidence suggests they are magic users and that what magic they control is dependent on the colors they can draft. For now, I’m equating this to channeling, since the elements in channeling are all assigned colors, too. It will be interesting to see how this compares to what Weeks is actually writing.
3- Why is Chromeria killing wights and why was Gaspar recruited by King Garadul? Gaspar mentions that for every city/village that wants to destroy the Prism, there’s another defending it. Why is Garadul against the Prism? Is this what the battle was about 16 years ago?
4- Is “Broken the Halo” a reference to the color leaving the pupil of the eye of the wight and infusing the rest of their body? Is this a death sentence? Gaspar says the madness isn’t upon him, yet, so if it is a death sentence, what actually kills them? Do people kill them before they go on a murderous rampage or lose control of their abilities? Are we talking like male channeler madness? Is this a gender controlled issue (I don’t think so, given the way Gaspar talks about it, but since he’s the only one we’ve seen who has this problem, it’s worth a talking point)?
Chapter 2- Gavin Guile
This is why I found myself halfway into this chapter before I realized I’d started it. My prediction was TRUE! Right there on page three after Karris delivers his unsealed message, is a woman telling Gavin that he’s got a son and that she’s dying and he needs to come meet him. BOOM! Go me! (Yeah, so what if it wasn’t difficult to figure out. And yeah, Weeks putting this in the first part of the very next chapter does probably mean it was never meant to be a secret from the reader. I still count it as a victory! 😛 )
So, let’s back up a minute, who is Gavin Guile? Well, he’s the Prism! So, that whole for/against the Prism thing… it’s about him. He drafts all of the colors, which makes sense, when you consider what a prism does to light. I also find it interesting that when Gavin does it, there’s emotion or sensation tied to the colors. Blue calms him, sub-red is hot. Karris played a joke on him and dropped his light blocking curtains, hitting him with a ton of light that he had to process all at once. The sunlight hit him and the colored light came from him. Again, like a prism.
Now, what he does to his breakfast is interesting, dropping blue dye into the wine and then staining the bread with the blue wine. He’d been doing it for almost sixteen years. Coincidence on the time? The Battle of Sundered Rock, where Kip was just hunting happened 16 years ago. What is the significance of that?
Gavin explains that most Prisms last 7, 14, or 21 years and that he’s been the Prism for 16 years already, so he has a good 5 years left. So, he’s been making blue bread since the battle of Sundered Rock, when he became Prism? And some people want to overthrow him while others want to protect him?
We finish this chapter up with a letter from the White, who has enough clout over him that he does what she requests of him. Not necessarily without complaint, just not with a vocal complaint. He carries guns into her presence and makes her Blackguards nervous.
Before he leaves the room, he drops a piece of bread down a tunnel behind a painting on his wall, then listens to hear it hit the three locks he has sealing it from the rest of the Chromeria. What in the world could be down that chute? And then this: “There had been mistakes over the years, but no one had to die this time.” So, whatever is down there has been down there for 16 years. It is trying to get out, thus the locks. The locks have failed a few times and people were killed restraining whatever is down there.
Chapter 3- The Prisoner
Alright, so… that chute Guile dropped blue bread down? He is feeding someone! There’s a person trapped at the bottom of that chute. It takes three locks to keep him down there. Well, three locks and a complete lack of color. There was no light to get color from aside from the blue light provided to the prison. Is this the same concept as modern prisons use to color their walls? Calming colors? Guile had said that blue calmed him, so, maybe?
This prisoner has been a Prism.
This prison sucks all of the color out of everything, blood, urine… everything becomes blue. It’s lined in Hellstone, which has no description, other than that the stone seeps the color out of whatever crosses it. The Prisoner isn’t sure how deep the Hellstone goes, but he’s been working on the stones under him, molding them with the oils in his skin and even urine, to work through it. He tries to break through it enough to keep some color in his urine to work with, but fails again and goes back to work on rubbing the oils and acidic urine into the stone.
But then he drops this bomb… Gavin is his brother. Gavin had trapped him in there and continues to keep him prisoner there.
So, if I’m connecting dots accurately…
There was a battle at Sundered Rock 16 years ago.
This prisoner was a Prism and Gavin has been making blue food to toss down to him every day for almost 16 years.
Kip is Gavin’s son, who lives near Sundered Rock. He’s 15 years old. So, Gavin was at Sundered Rock 16 years ago.
The Battle at Sundered Rock was between Gavin and his brother. Gavin won and imprisoned his brother, to become the next Prism. He sleeps with a woman in Rekton and she gives birth to his son after he’s gone. He hasn’t heard from her since.
1- Why is Master Danavis in Rekton? Was he put there to guard Kip?
2- What is King Garadul’s beef with Gavin? Did he back Gavin’s brother in that battle? Is Rekton remaining loyal to Gavin? Because of Kip?
3- Why is Gavin holding his brother captive and not just killing him? Maybe I’m just a history nerd, but a potential rival is not something you keep alive, even if he is your brother. Ask Elizabeth I what a pain it was letting her sister live!
4- What is the prophesy about Kip? Does Danavis know? How does it relate to Gavin being the Prism or his brother being in the chute?
SO MANY QUESTIONS BUBBLING AROUND IN MY HEAD!!!!
Ah, well. On to the next chapters and hoping I can find the brakes before I run past the next hurdle! Wish me luck!