The start of a brand new trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way of Shadows.
Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals.
But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.
©2010 Brent Weeks (P)2011 Hachette Digital
I struggled to get through this book because I just couldn't take the narrator seriously. I found the book mildly interesting, but didn't have anything else to read so stuck through it. When I saw the sequel was read by someone else, I thought I would give it another go and I am so glad that I did! Suddenly the characters I knew from the Black Prism came to life and I found myself thoroughly engrossed and enjoying the story immensely.
If you don't get on with the narrator and feel the story and characters are bland, stick through it and try the second novel, read by Simon Vance - it really is a fantastic.
After 3 hours I found it hard to warm to the narrator. There were attempts at characterisation, but I found little in the way of intonation or drama.
Brent Weeks tells an entertaining story in an original setting, unfortunately flawed by poor characterisation, plot holes and occasionally jagged prose. These problems are made all the more jarring by a wooden performance from Cristofer Jean. This poor reading makes what would otherwise be a simple but largely enjoyable book into one well below average.
The narration is absolutely wooden, with very little expression or attempt to differentiate the characters. He makes one of the key characters - Gavin Guile, a man of great political and magical power - sound like Keanu Reeves. He makes life-and-death situations sound exactly as exciting as inconsequential conversation, even when characters exclaim, curse, scream, or shout. The poor delivery is particularly obvious when the text specifically uses one of these words, and the narrator just speaks the dialogue in his usual flat monotone.
As the action picked up towards the end of the book, it began to become more interesting. There was a little character development, and some of the plot threads finally began to come together and give rise to interesting consequences. But it was too little, too late for me - I listened to the end only out of a sense of obligation, to see if the story would go anywhere.
Ultimately, it's difficult to say whether I found this book dull because it's poorly-written or because it's poorly-read. I found the constant self-deprecatory internal monologues to be infuriating at times, but I'm not sure whether that was because the characters annoyed me or because it was read in such a dull, monotonous fashion. I might try the second book in the series, as it's read by one of my favourite narrators, Simon Vance - perhaps that will settle the question.
I am finding the narrator just shy of camp and quite monotonous. With a different narrator I might be enjoying it more but it's doubtful I will finish this one. The concepts are interesting but there is too much focus on the mechanics; background and characters lack substance. Sorry Cristofer.
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