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"Black Prism" transports readers to new world

By Marissa Priest , Special to The Chronicle

When people open up the pages of a book, they are usually looking for something specific in its pages. People want to read about war, fantasy, romance, or magic. Reading is an escape to wherever you want to go. So why not go the Seven Satrapies?

In the new novel "The Black Prism" by best selling author Brent Weeks, this land is home to some of the most interesting political games and magic that the realm of fiction has seen in a while. It has set itself apart from the lands of "Harry Potter" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Everyone loves those series, and here is something just as great. Brent Weeks sculpts a whole new land that doesn't seem too far from the one we live in and the ones we already love to read in.

From the first chapters, it can be a bit overwhelming. Weeks invents so many new places and words that it can take a while before the reader really understands what is going on. Eventually the narrator will give a full explanation, but that's a few chapters in. But it's well worth the wait for the adventures that await.

The story begins years after a fast war, a war that left thousands dead and utterly destroyed one country. And that country is where it all begins. Our hero, if you can call him that, is Kip. Kip isn't the typical fantasy hero. Instead of being a scrawny small child ready for action, he is a chubby boy that cries when he gets knocked over. He isn't the typical orphan either; his parents are a junkie and the highest religious leader of the world. In every way Kip is set up to fail as this saga's hero. Yet he tries and tries to fulfill his dreams and all the adults' expectations of him.

Kip finds himself thrown into the start of a brand new war that he is partially to blame for. All around him are lies, political traps, assassinations, false identities, gore and magical explosions. Young Kip, while being taught that he was always useless, is in fact one of the more powerful drafters this world has ever seen.

Drafters are this world's magicians. They draft color and light into "luxin," which is what the light becomes after it is made into a physical substance. Then it is "drafted" into anything the drafter wills it to be. Each person can only draft certain colors or parts of the color spectrum. And, here's where it gets interesting, they only can use so much magic without killing themselves or becoming insane.

Weeks has a very distinctive writing style. While the setting feels almost medieval characters speak and think with a 21st century attitude. Drafters will be atop the most gorgeous castles, all while cursing about their misfortunes. It's a beautiful symmetry of old and new vernacular and something just about everyone can get involved with. "The Black Prism" is perfect reading for this long weekend ahead of us. It's painless reading, which is fantastic right before the slump of reading textbooks. 

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