So, I loved Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy, so when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it eventually (eventually turned out to be a few years later). Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did the Night Angel trilogy, but it was enjoyable.
The book tells the story of Kip, an overweight teenager from a village called Rekton which is shortly massacred by the ruler of the region, but Kip manages to escape by drafting (essentially - magic) and swears revenge. It also tells the story of Gavin Guile, the Prism (essentially Emperor, although most of the roles political power has been taken away long ago). Gavin is charismatic and charming, but harbours a secret and his path leads him to finding Kip, his bastard son (no spoilers - that's revealed at the end of chapter 2).
It's a fantasy story, and the main form of magic in this book is through "drafting", whereby a Drafter (magician basically) can "draw" colours to make an assortment of tools and weapons out of luxin to allow them to accomplish a wide variety of feats. Most drafters can only draw one or two, or sometimes three colours, and all drafters need to be able to see that colour to draft it. It takes a toll on them though and most drafters die by the time they're 40/50. All drafters, apart from the Prism though. A Prism is born once a generation and can draft every colour and there is no limit to his abilities apart from his own strength, but only manage to rule as Prism for a multiple of 7 years. Gavin for example has ruled for 16 years, meaning he has 5 years to go, as most don't make it past 14 years before dying.
One thing I found complicated about the book was the magic system, and this is why I just explained it a bit. It wasn't really clear early on what luxin was or how drafting worked and most of it I had to work out for myself before a decent explanation was provided (if it was - I'm stiill not entirely sure what luxin is
. It's an interesting system though and it was nice to read about a system of magic so different to what you find in most fantasy books.
On to the characters - I really liked Gavin, I thought he was very charismatic and a charmer, and I can see why most women in the book seem to be in love with him. But at the same time he's incredibly mysterious and intelligent, and I spent a lot of the book wondering about him and his past and what would happen as bits and pieces were revealed. Kip on the other hand, I didn't like as much. Kip seems to have a bit of split personality whereby he spends half the book whining and just thinking about how fat and useless and pathetic he is, but then every now and then he turns into someone really witty and self-assured and stuff before suddenly reverting to his pathetic self, and it was just a bit jarring. I don't know if it was just Weeks' attempt at (and struggling at) writing a character who isn't the typical protagonist or if he was trying to hint at hidden layers of Kip or something but... yeah. Kip just didn't really ring through with me, he was just too jarring.
The story itself was good and intriguing, and hints that the future books in this trilogy will get even bigger and more exciting. For this book though, I felt it spent a lot of time establishing the world and the characters and their backgrounds that nothing overly
exciting happened in the first half of the book and it got a bit more exciting towards the end when there was a big battle. It was mostly politics and set up before then. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, as Weeks has obviously thoroughly thought out the world and the characters and what happened to them in the past and how this affects them now and what every person wants and is like and etc. etc. etc. Basically, he's spent a long time thinking this through and it shows, but explaining all this to the reader does seem to take up a lot of time and it as a result I found the book to be a bit of a slog at first. I am looking foward to the next book in the series though. One plot point I found most interesting, and yet most confusing to be honest, was the fact that Gavin is actually his brother Dazen and is pretending to be Gavin and is keeping the real Gavin a secret prisoner. It was a very interesting concept and made me think a lot about how it all worked and what would happen in the future. It did get a bit confusing as Dazen obviously refers to himself as Gavin most of the time, and Gavin thinks of himself as Dazen and sorting that kind of stuff out about which brother they actually mean sometimes got confusing, but it kinda works because I guess it would be confusing for 'Gavin' as well. Kip being Gavin's bastard was quite obvious so I'm glad that was revealed like immediately, and his drafting gets hugely stronger as the book goes on which makes me suspect he might be the next Prism but we'll see in future books I guess. The knife at the end of the book... I have thoughts about what will happen with that but we'll see... it's intriguing to say the least.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I still think I enjoyed the Night Angel trilogy more but this book is still good and Weeks' writing style has definately improved since then.