I have to admit, though, it took me a while to get into this book. Not sure why that is. I think it’s mostly because it takes time for me to warm up to a new author and her/his style of writing. But I didn’t give up on it, because this has happened to me before, where I put the book down and then come back to it later. Nine times out of ten, I end up really liking it and this one was no exception.
Another reason it took a while to get into it is because the beginning of the book is a bit confusing for someone new to the story. There is a complex magic system and if you aren’t familiar with the terminology, the first few chapters will lose you. Once you catch on, the story is quite fascinating.
To summarize the magic system, I found this description on Wikipedia:
Chromaturgy is the art of harnessing light and creating a substance from it, called Luxin. Luxin can take on many different shades from the visible spectrum and to either end of it (what we would call infrared and ultraviolet), and each color has its own unique properties.
People who use Luxin are called Drafters. Most Drafters can only cast a single color of Luxin and are known as ‘Monochromes’. More powerful Drafters, known as ‘Bichromes’, can use two colors of Luxin and people who can use three or more colors are known as ‘Polychromes’. Polychromes are the most highly sought after Drafters for any Satrapy’s army. It would seem that in order to be considered a Drafter in a particular color, said Drafter must be able to Draft the whole color; for example Karris Whiteoak, who can Draft Green, Red and most of Sub-Red, is only considered a Bichrome. In order to draft a color of Luxin, a Drafter must see the color somewhere in his/her surroundings. If the color is not available in their immediate surroundings most Drafters get around this by wearing colored spectacles to filter their color from white (natural) light.
Luxin is deeply linked with the earthly flow of energies, and imbalance in the use of Luxin colors on a worldwide scale can result in natural disasters. In most cases Luxin flow is self-regulating, but occasionally it must be balanced by increased usage of certain colors of Luxin. Most often than not, this is accomplished by the Prism, a religious leader and political figurehead who rules over the Seven Satrapies as Emperor, although his political power is ceremonial at best. The Prism can draft every color of Luxin, and does not require colored glasses as he possesses the unique ability to split white light into its component colors.
When I read this, I was like, um, duh! I should have looked it up before reading the book. It would have saved me time from having to go back and re-read the first few chapters.
Okay, so, as for the story itself, the main character Gavin, the Prism, who is actually not who you think he is (don’t want to give it away,) takes his love interest, Karris, a black guard soldier who is given orders to infiltrate Tyrea, across the sea on a skimmer that he creates with Luxin. There, they find a small town being massacred and are immediately involved in the chaos. This is really where the story starts to get interesting. Gavin and Karris meet up with a young, chubby boy named Kip, who they discover is significant to them and the story goes from there (don’t want to say too much.)
So, overall, the story is fantastic! The idea of this magic system and how it relates to the health of their world is so original. The writing was different than I’m used to, but once I got into it, I loved it. I love Weeks’ sense of humor and how he weaves it into his characters, especially into Kip. Kip’s self-deprecating humor makes him lovable. You can’t read this story and not love Kip. Abused by his addict mother as a child, awkward and fat, he believes himself to be worthless and puts his life in danger to help the people he loves and at least make something of his existence. In the end, you see that he not only has as much power as his “father,” he also has a heart of gold and more courage than all of the Prism’s soldiers combined. So, I think Kip has got to be one of my favorite book characters ever.
The other characters are likable, too. What I love about the characters in this story is that they’re very real. Each one has flaws. Each has something shameful they’ve done in their past – skeletons in their closet, so to speak. But each one also has a sense of duty and what they think is right and they act on that, even the bad guys. Even the bad guys seem to have very good reasons for what they do, at least, in their own minds. At one point in the story, I remember thinking, “That bad guy is kinda right about that.” This is a sign of good storytelling.
Another aspect of the story that impressed me was how simply it explained not only a complex system of magic, but also a complex plot. Weeks’ plot has several twists in it, very complex twists that if not done properly, would have left the reader in a world of confusion. But it was executed perfectly. At times, I found myself going, “Huh? What’s going on?” And then, “Oh, I get it! Good one!” It definitely kept me turning the pages.
It ended on sort of a cliffhanger. Sort of. When I got there, I found myself going, “Ah, no, wait, that can’t be happening! Not now! Aaaargh! I need the next book!” And … I’ve got the next one in my hot little hands right now!
Keep writing, Brent! Awesome story!