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The Lightbringer Series is a series of fantasy novels by Brent Weeks, the author of The Night Angel Trilogy.
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The Lightbringer Series takes place in a different setting than the Night Angel Trilogy, in a world known as the Seven Satrapies. The main character of the story is a young boy named Kip, an orphan from a backwater village in a war-torn country who is suddenly thrust into an increasingly dangerous series of events upon learning that his father is actually the Prism—a widely famous and powerful religious leader, considered to be emperor of the entire world. Like Brent Weeks' other series, this one introduces a castle of fascinating and unique characters and a world that, while not as dark or gritty as the Night Angel Trilogy, still paints a unique picture of a fantasy world.

The series is now complete, and consists of:

  • The Black Prism (2010)
  • The Blinding Knife (2012)
  • The Broken Eye (2014)
  • The Blood Mirror (2016)
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  • The Burning White (2019)

Interestingly, the author was worried about the series, which he had planned as a trilogy, and consequently named it "The Lightbringer Series" in order to avoid Trilogy Creep.

Not to be confused with Oliver Johnson's Lightbringer Trilogy, an older, entirely different series made up of The Forging of the Shadows,The Nations of the Night and The Last Star at Dawn.


These books contain examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Kip wins Teia in a card game but refuses to take advantage of her, knowing that she is only claiming to be okay with it because he is her master and she doesn't want him to punish her. Not that he would of course.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Andross makes Kip play games of Nine Kings with stakes including, but not limited to:
    • Kip's friends being expelled from the Chromeria.
    • Adrasteia's slavery papers.
    • Being forced to annul his marriage (which was Andross' idea in the first place).
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  • Abusive Parents: Kip's mother, of the emotional and neglectful kind. Andross Guile of the ambitious, ruthless, controlling and domineering kind.
  • The Ace: Gavin in The Black Prism. He creates the fastest means of travel in the world, learns to fly, and builds Brightwater Wall. He makes it all look easy.
  • Action Girl: Karris, Liv, Teia, any female Blackguard and many female drafters.
  • Aerith and Bob: Zig-zagged. The only character who doesn't have a fantasy name is protagonist Gavin Guile.
  • Almighty Janitor: One of the most powerful immortal warriors in The Multiverse takes the form of a librarian when in the Seven Satrapies.
  • Alternative Calendar: Averted. The only date on the calendar that's referenced is the summer solstice, a holiday called Sun-Day. Hardly surprising, for a culture where light is so important that hasn't invented any light source comparable to the sun.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The afterword from The Blood Mirror explains that the issue experienced by Tisis is a real disorder called vaginismus.
    • Additionally, the rate of super- and subchromacy being tied to gender is based on real life differences in human vision. Females generally have better color perception, and males are more likely to be colorblind. This likely evolved as a sort of low key Disability Superpower; red-green colorblindness (the most common kind) has been shown to be advantageous in seeing through the camouflage of prey animals. Likewise, women evolved more discerning color palettes in order to differentiate between healthy and poisonous fruits and berries.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Tyrean natives are dark-skinned and are implied to live in a tropical climate (their primary exports are oranges). Kip's mother is Tyrean, and while the nationality of the Guiles isn't elaborated on, Gavin and Dazen have red hair, implying they're much paler. As a result, Kip has tan skin and freckles, a combination that the narration notes as unusual.
    • Corvan is stated to have the same dark-skin-and-freckles appearance, and is explicitly called a "half-breed."
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Order of the Broken Eye. Played with in that there's some conjecture on whether it's been the same ancient conspiracy for the past few centuries, or if unrelated groups have emerged, claimed the name, and later disbanded.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The series ends on Gavin convincing Ironfist, battered as they are, to come with him on another adventure: using the Blinding Knife to kill the eight Elohim imprisoned in the Chromeria's heart for good.
  • Angel Unaware: Kip's guardian angel has her first appearance in the guise of a simple librarian.
  • Anti-Hero: Gavin very likely has, by his own admission, the highest body count in the history of the Seven Satrapies. Despite this, there are multiple examples of his ruthlessness being the least-bad option. For example, he ended a centuries-long Cycle of Revenge by killing a few dozen agitators. Not to mention that most of those casualties come from sixteen years of ritualistically murdering drafters, a task which he loathes beyond all others.
    • A large section of The Burning White is devoted to exploring both the heroic and villainous aspects of Gavin Guile, including a fair number of details even he didn't know.
    • Teia becomes one during her infiltration into the Order of the Broken Eye. She ultimately has to kill innocent slaves and finds herself getting less and less bothered by it as time goes on.
  • Anti-Magic: Drafters can't draft a color in the proximity of it's respective Bane. The Bane are Eldritch monstrosities that the office of Prism is designed to prevent from forming, and there is no other way to suppress a drafter. This means that this is a huge advantage, since warrior-drafters don't train to fight without drafting.
    • Additionally, piercing a drafter's skin with obsidian, also known as "hellstone" or black Luxin will make them unable to draw Luxin and will also drain away any Luxin they've already packed.
  • Arc Number: Seven. The Chromeria teaches that seven is Orholam's number and is holy. Interestingly, the number serves as a representation of the Chromeria. As the series goes on, the reader sees how forced this number is as the Chromeria's secrets are slowly revealed. The Seven Satrapies used to be Nine Kingdoms. There are seven colors on the spectrum, but only because three or possibly four have been declared heretical and their drafters killed in pogroms. There are seven seats on the Spectrum council, but Ruthgar has two seats and Tyrea has none. Etcetera, etcetera.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Andross Guile, to Gavin. And also Andross Guile, to Kip, although Kip isn't aware of this yet.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Andross Guile is the king of this trope, but the other nobility do little to avert it. The highborn characters include a despot, The Butcher of Aghbalu, a fratricide, The Mole, a torturer, and a blasphemous rebel who's barely even human anymore.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "I've forgiven your many, many murders. Will you forgive him one?"
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Karris does this to Gavin the fake when she learns that he cheated on her while they where engaged and, as a result, has a bastard. Who isn't actually his but the real Gavin's. When she later finds out Dazen's (the real one's) deception, she does it again.Who it turns out, isn't actually even Gavin's son, but his half-brother. Andross is the father. Maybe. In The Burning White he claims to have been lying about that; whether he actually was or not is left unclear.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The banes are this, though Gavin and the Blackguard don't initially realize it. Each one has a "seed crystal" of the appropriate color at its core, which draws wights to it inexorably. This lack of knowledge means that the victories scored against the blue and green banes in The Blinding Knife are temporary, since the seed crystals are still at large and will reform in a few months.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Blinding Knife, the master cloak, true Nine Kings cards, and the seed crystals, especially black.
  • Ascended Extra: Gunner the pirate's only appearance in The Black Prism is to be briefly recognized, then defeated nonlethally by Gavin. His only personality traits are that isn't that bright but might be the best gunner in the world. His role expands considerably in The Blinding Knife, and then further in The Broken Eye.
    • Aside from Kip, Cruxer, and Teia, the members of the Mighty don't have much in the way of characterization until The Blood Mirror.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: It's extremely difficult for a non-drafter to fight a drafter of any kind. There are also almost no non-drafters wielding any amount of authority in the Seven Satrapies. This is not a coincidence.
  • The Atoner: Tremblefist joined the Blackguard and took a name derivative of his brother's. He did this because he wanted people to think of him as Ironfist's brother, rather than The Butcher of Aghbalu.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Green Golem technique. Incredibly powerful, but uses up years of the typical drafter's life expectancy in a matter of minutes.
  • Ax-Crazy: It's unclear how much of Gunner's persona is an affectation of this and how much is genuine, but it's definitely a mix. Master Sharp, on the other hand, is so crazy and so dangerous that he put aside his given name and chooses to go by Murder.
    • Zymun always had shades of this, but he slams headfirst into this trope after breaking the halo.
  • Back from the Dead: While close to death in the Chromeria's heart, Ironfist speaks to and is physically assisted by what appears to be the spirit of his dead brother.
    • While on Orholam's Glare, Kip begs his Guardian Angel for help in being brave. She shows him a vision of everyone who ever loved him, that he might face death in peace.
    • Kip is resurrected by Orholam a few hours later minus his drafting abilities.
    • Gavin has a long struggle against and conversation with someone who is eventually revealed as his murdered brother Sevastian, in the form of what he would have looked like if he'd survived to adulthood.
  • Badass Boast: Orholam tells Gavin, "I am a servant to servants, a healer to healers, and a king to kings."
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Commander Ironfist, after he shaves his head in mourning for the Blackguards lost at Garrison.
  • Bastard Bastard: Zymun Guile, Child by Rape of Karris and the real Gavin, is a sociopathic rapist who only serves to be a major thorn in everyone's side.
  • Becoming the Mask: Gavin. The Blood Mirror explores just how deep that mask goes.
  • Beneath Notice: People have a bad habit of overlooking slaves. Marissia was a spy for the White, and Grinwoody was the leader of the Order of the Broken Eye.
  • Berserk Button: Kip presses one for Karris when he calls her mother.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Everyone knows that Felia Guile was the light to Andross' dark and an overall lovely woman. Fewer people know that Andross questions if she's more cunning than even he is.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: Who, exactly, represents the greatest threat to the Seven Satrapies is unclear over much of the series, with new layers being revealed in each book. Initially the Big Bad seems to be King Garadul, until he's killed and his second-in-command the Color Prince takes over. Meanwhile, Andross Guile is spinning his own separate webs to advance his own agenda, as is Grinwoody, who as head of the Order of the Broken Eye is running his own plans opposed to both the Color Prince and the Chromeria. Ultimately, the Biggest Bad turns out to be Abbadon, who is manipulating the Color Prince to advance his own power. And then there's Zymun, who changes allegiances at the drop of a hat and runs around ruining everyone's day for his own amusement.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Zymun has big dreams and thinks he's an evil mastermind. He's not, but he's still just powerful and cunning enough to do damage on his way down.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Once an Episode, and almost always subverted.
    • In The Black Prism, Gavin builds Brightwater Wall in only a few days. It's identified by other characters as a wonder of the world that will cement Gavin's place in history. He started it just minutes too late, with a lucky cannonball taking down the nearly-finished gate, making it irrelevant for Garriston's defense.
    • In The Blinding Knife, Gavin, Kip, and Karris destroy the reborn god of green luxin but don't know to recover its seed crystal, meaning it will rise again in a few months.
    • In The Broken Eye, Karris and Ironfist make a daring rescue of Gavin at the last possible moment. But they're too late to prevent one of his eyes being burnt out, his loss of his powers as Prism, and his kidnapping after the return to the Jaspers.
    • In The Blood Mirror, Kip manages an astounding victory against a numerically superior force of Blood Robes, liberating the city of Dunvio. What to do with the city afterward becomes a millstone around his neck, with the city's needs competing for Kip's resources in the fight against the Blood Robes, already stretched thin.
    • In The Burning White, all the protagonists band together to defend the Jaspers themselves. It's a momentous battle lasting longer than a day, but they are eventually victorious. At the cost of months of rebuilding and Kip's ability to draft.
  • The Big Guy: Big Leo of The Mighty. Commander Ironfist is almost this to Gavin, but he's mixed with The Lancer.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Drafting paryl requires you to open your irises beyond normal human limits, giving this appearance while it's being used. This doesn't help improve paryl's bad reputation. As a color with properties lending it to clandestine uses, however, the reputation is not entirely undeserved.
  • Black Magic: There a few different flavors of forbidden drafting.
    • Unique among the seven official colors recognized by the Chromeria, orange drafters can create Hexes. Hexes are illusions and/or magical compulsions. While not strictly mind control, they can influence a person's feelings. Two on-screen examples are an option in a game of chance making those who view it disinterested in picking it, and Felia using it to make Andross show her exactly the type of attention she needs to heal a breach in their marriage.
    • Incorporating luxin into one's body, even temporarily, is considered blasphemy due to its similarity with what wights do.
    • The Chromeria forbids the use of will-casting, a type of drafting that lets the drafter control animals such as wolves or bears. Will-casting is practiced in the hinterlands of Blood Forest, away from the Chromeria.
    • Everyone seems to agree that soul-casting—will-casting that takes control of other people—is vile and forbidden.
    • Drafting black luxin is a more literal example but is still abhorrent to those who know it's even possible. It is the magic of insanity and decay.
    • Chi drafting inflicts radiation poisoning on the drafter and all those nearby. It has been rendered nearly extinct by Chromeria pogroms.
  • Blessed With Suck: Being a drafter allows a person to use magic. It guarantees a minimum standard of living which includes de facto immunity to being enslaved. The Chromerian Empire is ruled by a council of ten people (the Prism, the White, the Black, and the seven Colors), of whom only one is a non-drafter—and that office is only one of the ten who never gets a vote. The payback for all this power? It's a rare drafter who lives more than forty years, and those who break the halo earlier are strongly encouraged to be ritualistically murdered by the Prism each Sun Day.
    • Especially true for Chi drafters, who die of radiation poisoning long before breaking the halo is a concern.
  • Body Horror: Color wights feel a compulsion to remake their bodies in the luxin they command. This means things like blue luxin instead of eyelids, green instead of joints, and mottled skin with living gore poking out beneath. And they do this to themselves.
  • Broken Ace: Gavin's arc in The Blinding Knife follows this trope. The man who worked wonders in the previous book is now learning to cope with losing his powers and realizing he has fewer years ahead of him than he'd assumed.
  • Broken Pedestal: The entire Chromeria and her father for Liv. As of the third book, her faith in the Color Prince has been heavily shaken as well, and ends up going completely once she becomes Ferrilux.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Gavin at the end of the second book. After being stabbed by the Marrow Sucker, also known as the Blinding Knife in story, he is rendered incapable of drafting and becomes completely colorblind.
    • Even straighter application is on Kip at the very end of the series. His life is spared, but he's left completely unable to draft while Gavin can at least still draft black and white.
  • The Butcher: Tremblefist earned this title after a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in response to his mother's murder. He joined the Blackguard as a way to move past it, but his actions were so extreme that he has a True Nine Kings card portraying him as "The Butcher of Aghbalu."
  • Butt-Monkey: Gavin has become this by the third book. Powerless, enslaved, imprisoned, tortured, maimed. It is the polar opposite of how Gavin was when first introduced — as the most powerful man in the world. Given the series' motifs of light, twins, duality, mirrors, etc. — this is intentional and awaiting a big pay-off.
  • Cain and Abel: Gavin and Dazen. The series plays a great deal with which is which.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The four colors beyond the visible spectrum are all real, but modern science would consider them closer to radiation bands than "colors." Superviolet is ultraviolet light. Subred is infrared heat. Chi is X-ray radiation. Paryl is implied to be terahertz radiation.
  • Captain Ersatz: The game of Nine Kings is initially referenced as a high stakes card game akin to poker. When we learn more about it in The Blinding Knife, that comparison is replaced. Nine Kings is a strategy game where players use preconstructed decks of unique cards to execute a strategy and counteract their opponent's. Cards are based on spellcasters, soldiers, magic, and equipment, with each card divided into a color of magic. There are even different sets of cards, with new ones being created over time, and some older cards being declared heretical and banned...but still played in side formats. Anyone who's played Magic: The Gathering will spot the similarities long before Weeks acknowledges it in the Afterword.
    • Abaddon is an immortal creature who takes the appearance of an angel, calls himself the Bringer of Light, and radiates menace. In other words, he's a pretty straight translation of Satan.
  • Cast From Life Span: Played with. Drafting doesn't explicitly kill its users. Rather, as a drafter drafts, the irises of their eyes fill up with the appropriate colors. If the rings caused by drafting push past the edges of the iris, the drafter "breaks the halo," and is overcome by their color, becoming a color wight. However, the extent to which this dehumanizes the drafter is a central disagreement among the characters, with the Chromeria seeing them as insane monsters and the Blood Robes seeing them as the next stage in a drafter's communion with their color. Most drafters will break the halo around forty, though we see a few drafters in middle age, one who is elderly, and another who is barely twenty. Liv Danavis breaks the halo at eighteen on purpose. The narration highlights that bichromes and polychromes have an advantage over monochromes in that halos seem to track separately; a polychrome will usually break only one halo, meaning they can fall back on other colors if they're close to breaking one halo. Monochromes must choose between going Wight and ceasing to draft entirely.
    • Chi drafting is a much straighter use of this trope. Chi is heavily implied to be X-ray radiation, and using it literally kills the drafter by way of radiation poisoning. One Chi drafter claims most have five to ten years of active drafting before their bodies fail.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: A rare heroic example. The pirate king's fleets looked set to attack the Chromeria under the White King's banner only for them to turn on the pagans instead. Turns out the slave Dazen personally freed on his mother's behalf was the pirate king's daughter.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The gift Lina gave to Kip, specifically the case it was in.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Remember Felia's slave that Gavin set free? The final book reveals she was actually the pirate king's daughter, and he's more than willing to pay Gavin back for it.
  • The Chessmaster: The White and Gavin the fake one both have hints of this. The Color Prince and Andross Guile have more than shades.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Played brutally straight by the False Prism's War, where the leaders of each side were under twenty years old.
  • The Chosen One: Played with. The series is named for a prophesied deliverer called the Lightbringer. The first four books build up the possibility that Kip is the Lightbringer. The Burning White reveals that Andross has assumed himself to be the Lightbringer for forty years. However, several prophecies related to the Lightbringer don't seem to reference either of them, so it's possible that neither is a Chosen One.
    • The Burning White elaborates that there have been many potential Lightbringers over the centuries, waiting for the eventual candidate who would realize the title. This explains the myriad of sometimes contradictory prophecies.
    • In the end, the mere existence of the prophecies is a major reason they're fulfilled at all. Although Kip is the one who figures out the mirrors, and who drafts white luxin to give Dazen the coordinates, and who is personally resurrected by Orholam, Andross is the one in the position to control the mirrors, and when Dazen activates the light wells, Brings Light to the defenders. Absent the prophecies, his role would have been seen as vital, but contributory, and there would have been no discussion of him taking over everything.
    • On a minor note, the Prism is considered the Chosen of Orholam. Gavin thinks this is a load of crap even before learning Prisms are created. The truth is a bit more complicated: Prisms used to be born, but when one of them betrayed Orholam's will they stopped appearing and needed to be made instead. Dazen being the first natural Prism in generations means he actually is chosen, at least a little.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Liv Danavis betrays the Chromeria for the Color Prince, then betrays the Color Prince to seize the superviolet seed crystal for herself.
  • Cold Sniper: Winsen. The narration points out that Winsen can make shots no one else can...because he'll take shots no one else will, like after a fleeing assassin in a room full of civilians.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: The magic system revolves around luxin, colored light given mass (using luxin is called drafting, the users are called drafters). A drafter has a subset of colors they can use, usually one, sometimes several. Each color has unique properties and limitations a drafter has to work within. Each color also has a unique influence on a user's personality while it is being used, although experienced drafters are better at controlling this.
    • The seven colors recognized by the Chromeria are introduced in The Black Prism. They are:
      • Superviolet: Heavily implied to be ultraviolet radiation, superviolet exists outside the normal visible spectrum. Its drafters can supernaturally narrow their pupils to see it. Superviolet is invisible to everyone but superviolet and Chi drafters, and this is where most of it's utility comes from. It's primarily used for secrecy, both sending communication and shaping it into a dome to prevent others from overhearing. Using superviolet suppresses emotion and makes the drafter more logical.
      • Blue: Blue Luxin is strong and rigid, but brittle. It can also be used to make paste. Blue Luxin is best suited to form solid, unmoving objects—we see it used on screen mostly to build vehicles and melee weapons like swords. Drafting blue makes one more logical; it downplays emotion but doesn't eliminate it as strongly as superviolet.
      • Green: Green Luxin is flexible and dense. It has uses in construction (we see a bridge made out of it early in the first book) and in combat is used to fling heavy balls of it around. It's ideally suited to any Luxin object that requires flexibility, including the joints of some Wights. Drafting green makes the drafter feel wild and independent.
      • Yellow: the middle of the spectrum, yellow Luxin is malleable but fickle. It is the type of Luxin that will most easily return to light, making its use by non-superchromats limited. When drafted exactly correctly, its mix of flexibility and rigidity makes it ideal for ships and buildings, giving them room to sway in the wind without compromising structural integrity; the Yellow Tower is the only tower of the Chromeria that's Luxin all the way through. It also makes a great torch, since it converts back to light so easily. Drafting yellow makes a drafter feel balanced between logic and emotion.
      • Orange: Orange Luxin isn't discussed in great detail. Its physical form is slippery. Orange can be used to craft Hexes, mind-altering illusions, but this is strictly forbidden by Chromeria rules. Drafting orange makes the drafter feel creative.
      • Red: Red Luxin takes the physical form of sticky paste. It is highly flammable, limiting its use beyond that of an accelerant. It is a key component in forging grenades for use in combat. Drafting red makes the drafter feel passionate.
      • Subred: Heavily implied to be infrared light, subred Luxin mainfests as heat. This has all the Mundane Utility one would expect, and is used in combat to hurl fireballs. Outside the visible spectrum like superviolet, subred lets the drafter open their pupils to an inhuman degree. This is subred's other combat application, as it allows drafters to pick out warm, living bodies on a backdrop of colder terrain. Drafting subred seems to make the drafter feel horny.
    • Other colors are introduced, starting with The Blinding Knife. Note that most of these are "colors" outside the visible spectrum, but are based on real world science.
      • Paryl is below subred, and its drafters can see both paryl and subred (making paryl drafters the only people who can see subred without necessarily being able to draft it). Paryl is powerful and versatile, if subtle. Paryl Luxin usually takes the form of a cloud or tendril. Paryl has the terrifying ability to insert small chunks into vital organs, leading to a death that superficially resembles a heart attack. With a little more skill, paryl drafters can temporarily paralyze limbs. Unlike the other colors, paryl is always available to draft as long as there is light of any kind. When a drafter opens their eyes to the degree required to draft paryl, their entire eye turns black. While in this state, the drafter can see through organic material, causing skeletons and, more importantly, concealed metal objects, to stick out. This means it's very easy for a paryl drafter to blind themself on accident from using paryl in conditions of abundant light. Paryl makes a drafter more empathetic.
      • Chi: Above superviolet, Chi is strongly implied to be X-ray radiation (hence it's name, the Greek letter for X). Chi is held up as Black Magic, owing to what it does to its drafters. Use of Chi drafting results in radiation poisoning, making most Chi drafters infested with cancers and tumors. While no drafters are long-lived, Chi drafters in particular must Cast from Lifespan; a Chi drafter living more than fifteen years from the time they start drafting is unheard of. Chi has the expected abilities of X-rays, and is also uniquely suited to long range communication to a degree well beyond what even superviolet is capable of. Chi is a bit of a Hufflepuff House, since its drafters were hunted to extinction several centuries before the start of the series. There are no viewpoint Chi drafters, so Chi's effect on the drafter's mind isn't explicitly stated.
      • Black: The purest Black Magic in the setting, this color has many abilities, all of them nasty. It can incite madness, create semisentient willcastings, cause Laser-Guided Amnesia, and most relevantly, steal another drafter's abilities, though this is heavily implied to be fatal to the target. In Luxin form, it sucks up magic, and will drain any packed Luxin out of a drafter whose skin is pierced by it. Gavin's long-running hallucination that his brother is still alive in the prisons he built in the Chromeria's heart is caused by this.
      • White: It's not used enough to understand its powers beyond knowing it's both incredibly rare and is drafted when someone thinks completely about the people they care about.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kip's story arc in The Blinding Knife goes to great lengths to illustrate the Blackguard's stance on this trope, encouraging trickery and deception as much as brute force. Ironfist sums the approach up with, "Blackguards don't cheat; they win!"
    • The Blood Mirror covers this trope in detail, showing how it wears on the Mighty to be leading an army in their late teens. Kip quietly notes that, win or lose, they'll be unable to fight by nineteen.
  • Corrupt Church: The corruption among the Luxiates is a plot point in book 4. Most Quinton's story arc in books 4 and 5 relates to him being hired to assassinate Kip by high ranking Luxiates. He missed and killed Cruxer's crush instead, something that he is deeply ashamed of.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Orholam. He is an omniscient God with a priesthood (called luxiats) and the Prism represents a Pope-like figure. Considering the author is a devout Christian, there are a number of parallels between the Chromeria and the Christian church, but good and bad.
    • Abaddon is essentially Crystal Dragon Satan.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Karris' duel with Enki lasts perhaps five seconds.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Drafting in general borders on, given that each person has a limited amount of drafting in their life before the become a Color Wight, basically viewed as a Fate Worse than Death. As a result there are perhaps a few dozen Drafters in the Seven Satrapies over the age of 40.
    • Drafting luxin to modify one's body is seen as blasphemy and carries a death sentence because of its similarity to the "improvements" color wights make.
    • Drafting certain colors, black luxin, in particular, to the extent that nearly all knowledge of it has been destroyed. Paryl and Chi are also "forbidden" in the sense that their knowledge has been suppressed. Paryl is extremely powerful in the hands of an assassin, and as a result it's use has been heavily suppressed. It isn't totally forbidden, as the Blackguard are more than happy to recruit Teia because they are one of the few Paryl drafters available and it offers a totally unique set of powers. Chi, analogous to X-Rays, causes cancer in it's drafters, shortening their lifespan even further than other forms of drafting, which was more enough for it to get banned.
    • Will-casting is a discipline of drafting that allows a drafter to control animals. It is practiced in the hinterlands of Blood Forest and forbidden by the Chromeria. This is explicitly stated to be because Chromerian doctrine is based on protecting people from the greatest danger. Complications during willcasting can result in the person or animal biologically dead and their soul shattered into pieces. This fades eventually, but leaves the animal with two souls for a time, making them confused and often violent. Soul-casting is a step beyond will-casting, where a drafter takes control of another human being. It is explicitly denounced as Black Magic by the Chromeria and Blood Foresters alike.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Once Dazen tries using Black Luxin as an equal rather than a tool to be mastered he's able to use it without the normal side effects. Seeing as how Orholam himself encourages him to use it it's probably not evil.
  • Dark Messiah: The Color Prince.
  • The Dark Side: Technically the multicolored side. Basically what happens when drafters overdose and go insane.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Gavin. Both of them.
  • A Day in the Limelight: A handful of flashback chapters in The Burning White are told from Andross Guile's point of view.
  • Dead All Along: The way that Gavin's bullets are imbedded in the yellow prison leads him to realize that he didn't spare his brother at Sundered Rock, and it was all an elaborate hallucination caused by use of black luxin. He later learns that he intentionally constructed this false memory to hide the true purpose of the prisons in the Chromeria's heart even from himself. Each one holds a captured Djinn in the form of that cell's Dead Man.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone. Gavin, Karris, Ironfist and the White probably take the cake, though.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Inverted. The old gods are coming back.
  • Deus ex Machina: Lampshaded. Gavin is thousands of miles from the climactic battle with the Color Prince, so Orholam provides him with a flying machine He calls a "machina" and an Elohim to pilot it, traveling at high speed while Gavin sleeps.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: A bizarre turn of events during an execution on Orholam's Glare appears to have resulted in the death of what amounts to a Fallen Angel or minor demigod. Karris's opinion is that Orholam's Glare was likely designed to do just that, made ritualistic so it would do what it was supposed when the time came, regardless of whether people believed in Immortals or not.
    • Much later, we learned that Gavin has been hunting Djinn. Alone. And has won. Eight times.
  • Disability Superpower: Winson isn't right in the head, something that's commented on frequently by the rest of the Mighty. He is unable to experience most human emotions. Incidentally, this makes him immune to orange Hexes that would influence the emotions he doesn't have.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: King Garadul. The Color Prince pretends to be his Dragon, but was actually setting him up to become a martyr, allowing the Prince to both take over and further motivate his forces.
  • Distressed Damsel: Karris is implied to be this before she joined the Blackguard, and later when she gets captured by Garadul's army.
    • Subverted in that while several people are trying to save Karris, it isn't until Ironfist causes an explosion that allows Karris to escape in the confusion, that she's freed.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The fate of Tyrea in the wake of the False Prism's War—defeated, blame by the rest of the world, humiliation and refusal to be allowed to rejoin the worldwide community, leading to rebellion and ultimately igniting a far worse conflict—cleaves very close to what happened to Germany after World War One.
  • Doomed Hometown: King Garadul putting Rekton to the torch gets the whole plot rolling.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Broken Eye obviously refers to the Order of the Broken Eye, a secretive brotherhood of assassins that most of Teia's viewpoint chapters deal with. It also refers to the climax, where Gavin's left eye is burned out.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: In the first book, the Color Prince is this for King Garadul. Then he arranges Garadul's death in battle and takes over his forces.
  • Dying as Yourself: When a drafter breaks their halo, they tend to collapse for a moment before the madness takes them. A nearby friend will consider it their duty to kill them before they've had a chance to turn.
    • Drafters who know that they are close to breaking the halo can choose to refuse drafting at all in order to preserve their sanity. Those that do not feel they can restrain themselves can be 'Freed': killed while still themselves.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Stuck on Orholam's Glare and burning alive, Kip continued to work the mirrors to defend the Chromeria with purely his will until Liv seized them. He never screamed, only venting fire like wings and demanding more light. His last act is to draft a massive amount of the near mythical white luxin and send a message revealing the lightwells to whoever finds it, begging them to save his friends and home rather than himself. Almost everyone who saw it felt pure awe at the spectacular magic and bravery.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Minor example. The main Big Bad has several titles, and in the first book, the narration mostly refers to him by one of them, Lord Omnichrome, but the second mostly uses another, the Color Prince.
    • The series has four primary viewpoint characters: Kip, Gavin, Karris, and Adrasteia, the last of whom isn't introduced until The Blinding Knife.
    • In the audiobook version, reader Simon Vance uses a different pronunciation of "Chi" in each book. He calls it "chee" in The Broken Eye and "chai" in The Blood Mirror, before settling on the canonically correct, "kai" in The Burning White.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Bane, enormous living temples to the Old Gods. The Djinn also count.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The primary viewpoint characters are: the most powerful drafter in the world, his bastard son who has the most flexible and powerful command of drafting possible outside the Prism, an elite among the elite who's also one of the fastest drafters currently living, and a girl who can draft a color most people don't know exists and split light like the Prism.
    • Liv Danavus seems like an exception, but she eventually becomes the avatar of the Old God Ferrilux.
    • More generally, Gunner is the only significant non-drafter in the entire series.
  • Emergency Authority: The Chromeria has protocol to elect a promachos during times of war. The promachos is given near-dictatorial control of the war effort until the conflict is ended in order to make Chromerian leadership more nimble.
    • Gavin Guile the real one was made promachos during the False Prism's War, and there was some concern about him relinquishing his power once the war was over. He ultimately surrendered his power with relatively few capitulations probably because the shrewder Dazen had assumed his identity by then.
    • The Chromeria denies Gavin's the false one request to be elevated to promachos in order to put down King Garadul's rebellion. This leads to him being severely undersupplied in the resulting confrontation and letting a minor rebellion blossom into a major war.
    • Andross Guile petitions to be made promachos in The Broken Eye and succeeds, mostly because he already owns most of the Spectrum.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: Every Prism has died through assassination. The Chromeria just kills most of them on a multiple of seven years after their ascension to make it look like dying after 7, 14, or 21 years on the job is natural. Oh, and the raw ingredient used to make a Prism in the first place? It's murder of drafters, and children work the best.
  • Energy Absorption: Obsidian can seep away luxin from a drafter when touched to the drafter's blood.
    • Living black luxin (whereas obsidian/hellstone is the 'dead' version) also absorbs light, luxin, memories, and the drafter's sanity.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: A large percentage of the cast knew each other since they were teenagers. Gavin, Dazen, Karris, and the Color Prince all knew each other, and Andross was around since he's Gavin and Dazen's father. Elsewhere in the world, Ironfist, Tremblefist, and the Nuqaba were siblings.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Color Prince to Gavin. Zymun to Kip.
    • The ironically named Lightguard become this to the Blackguard in The Broken Eye. While the Blackguard are deeply loyal elites trained to protect the powerful from assassination and the people from illegitimate power, the Lightguard are Andross Guile's personal errand boys. Their lack of training and discipline is clear in almost every scene they appear in.
  • Evil Cripple: Andross Guile is cruel, manipulative, and willful. He openly manipulates the politics of the Seven Satrapies, and shows no hesitation to use all manner of murder and torture to accomplish his goals. He's also willfully blinded himself as a result of drafting so much that he's in serious danger of becoming a red wight, hiding himself from all light in order to keep his color at bay. Being confined to his darkened apartment at almost all times has limited his ability to plot and scheme, and being blind means he can't draft.
    • The Burning White illuminates that the goggles aren't to keep him from going wight; they're to hide the fact that he already has.
    • Teia ends up with similar caps in The Burning White as a result of poisoning. until the Mighty all band together to build her special goggles that will work around her injuries.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Color wights feel an unstoppable compulsion to remake themselves in luxin. The end result is surreal at best and full-on Body Horror at worst.
    • The Color Prince gets an extra helping, since what flesh he has is horribly burned.
    • Inverted for Chi drafters. Drafting Chi (heavily implied to be X-ray radiation) fills its drafters with cancerous tumors, causes boils and clumps of hair to fall out. The Luxiates beheld this and declared Chi drafting to be heretical as it was clearly evil.
  • Evil Twin: While technically not twins, Dazen to Gavin and Zymun to Kip.
    • Subverted because Gavin is actually Dazen and Dazen is actually Gavin. And Double Subverted in that Gavin—the real Gavin—is an insecure, vengeful, self-centred Jerkass while Dazen—the fake Gavin—is a well-meaning Anti-Hero (who happens to be a Manipulative Bastard) and The Atoner for the terrible things he and his side did during the war.
    • Triply subverted since Fake Gavin is actually a black monochrome who stole his other colors from the White Oak brothers and maintained them through killing wights and Freeing drafters. Real Gavin was no saint himself, with his own father admitting he had the potential to become a monster. Determining which one, if either, is evil is difficult to say the least.
  • Eye Scream Gavin gets one of his eyes gouged out. The narration makes it clear how horrifically painful it is even done right.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The Thresher is a test that is billed as make-or-break for an aspiring drafter. The actual test is not based on passing or failing, but rather how long one can endure before failing. the original Dazen Guile is the only person in living memory to have passed.
    • Much later, the Old Man of the Desert assigns Teia to kill her own father. When she refuses, he tells her that her refusal was the actual test, as the only people who would agree to fratricide—spies who had no intention of going through with it and pyschopaths—would be purged from the Order.
  • Fake Defector: Ironfist's viewpoint chapter in The Burning White describes how everything he's done since leaving the Chromeria was to make sure he was where he needed to be to defend the Jaspers, and to sculpt the political situation to prevent Andross from interfering.
  • Fallen Hero: Liv Danavis betrays the Chromeria, abandons the Blood Robes, breaks the halo on purpose and seizes the superviolet seed crystal for herself.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Averted. Distance is measured in "paces."
  • Fantastic Racism: Each Satrapy has its own ethnicity, many of which are unfriendly with others. Tyreans in particular are disliked for supporting Dazen during the False Prism's War.
    • The Blood Forest pygmies interbreeding with other people explicitly explains the union as "pygmies and humans," implying that those outside the ethnicity don't see them as human.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted. Armies use cannons, pistols, rifles, and blunderbusses. Rifled barrels are a recent invention, illustrated by the Big Bad's Weapon of Choice, which is essentially a primitive sniper rifle. The pirate Gunner makes some offhand comments regarding rifled barrels, indicating that the technology is still in its infancy.
    • They've recently invented flintlocks and have used more primitive hand cannons in the past. Of course, some drafters just make magic bullets with extreme accuracy.
    • Bows see some occasional use, typically when either stealth or accuracy is required.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Liv joins Lord Omnichrome after being persuaded that the Chromeria is corrupt.
    • She later abandons him as well, going rogue.
  • Fallen Angel: According to legend, Orholam made a race of immortal servants. One third of them went rogue. Kip meets one during a magic-induced haze and it's very reminiscent of Satan. Kerris' fries another during a surprise execution on Orholam's Glare. This event makes her wonder if the symbolic value of Orholam's Glare is the ritual remnant of a method of execution specifically designed to do what she just did on accident.
  • Fantasy World Map: Included at the beginning of every book. It can be somewhat confusing to follow at first as south is up, a fact that is never actually addressed.
  • Fictional Colour: Subverted- all of the colors of luxin actually exist on the electromagnetic spectrum, with the caveat that some are "colors":
    • Subred is infra-red radiation, hence its incendiary properties and usefulness for night operations
    • Paryl, a mysterious color often considered blasphemous by those who even know it exists as more than myth, is Terahertz radiation. Among other uses, the color allows the drafter to see metal through clothing and probe the interior of otherwise solid materials.
    • In duress, one paryl drafter also managed to channel a "deeper" form of paryl that induced pain in those it touched- a band of the spectrum we call microwaves.
    • on the literal other end of the spectrum is chi- described as the in-universe incarnation of both Light 'em Up and Holy Is Not Safe, its drafter's habit of suddenly dropping dead on the battlefield as their bodies seem to decay in hours or dying a slow death from pervasive tumors clearly mark it as the X-ray and higher bands.
  • First-Episode Twist: Gavin is actually Dazen. This is revealed part-way through the first book, but it completely redefines everything we know about the character, their history, and their dynamic with the other characters.
  • Foreshadowing: In The Broken Eye, Gavin finds a sympathetic guard who is torn between to oaths he swore to Gavin when he was still Dazen and to his current masters, and how it's impossible for him to uphold both. The guard laments the impossible situation. This sets up the First Epilogue, where we learn that Ironfist has done the same, swearing oaths to both the Order of the Broken Eye and the Blackguard.
    • Teia confesses to Ironfist that she's being blackmailed. His first question is how she knows he isn't working for her blackmailer. This foreshadows The Reveal that he has been a member of the Order of the Broken Eye since before he joined the Blackguard.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: In the course of about a year and a half, the Color Prince goes from the second-in-command of a ragtag rebellion in the poorest of the Seven Satrapies to an existential threat to the Chromeria.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: Played with. Superchromacy is the ability to detect extremely subtle differences in colors, allowing much finer control of Luxin. Using the perfect shade of Luxin allows the drafter to draft objects that will persist longer than the drafter's concentration; we see this used in the Chromeria's yellow tower, Brightwater Wall, the various skimmer designs, and a green bridge outside Rekton. While not exclusively gender locked, superchromats are drastically more common among women; about 50%, compared to less than 1% of men. Kip and Dazen Guile are both exceptions as male superchromats, which isn't surprising since they're so closely related.
    • On the flip side, there are also subchromats—drafters with partial colorblindness. This doesn't seem to matter much, as it only means that that person won't develop the ability to draft the colors they're blind to. The text mentions that subchromacy is more common among male drafters, but the only subchromat we see onscreen is Teia.
  • Genius Bruiser: Teia mentions that Ben-hadad's reputation as a Gadgeteer Genius makes her forget that he was in the top of the class among the Blackguard trainees until he does something that reminds her.
  • Genius Ditz: Ferkudi is often the last member of The Squad to get it, whatever "it" happens to be. That said, he has an amazing head for numbers, to the point that he can accurately count out several minutes' worth of time without losing track, while doing other things simultaneously.
  • God: The Chromeria venerates a monotheistic creator deity named Orholam. Whether he actually exists is an open question throughout the series. Traditional interpretation is that he's a literal being, although a number of characters share their own views on the specifics throughout the series. Andross is essentially a deist, believing that Orholam made the world but takes no part in running it. Gavin veers between that and outright atheism, depending on what has happened recently (though being a religious as well as political leader, he keeps his sometimes atheism to himself). Grinwoody thinks Orholam is a non-sapient nexus of magical energies, not a person.
    • The Burning White is surprisingly forthcoming with answering the question: It turns out Orholam is a real being, and there are numerous other immortals who both serve and oppose him. The implication is that he's actually the God of hundreds or thousands of different worlds, and is constantly at war with his opposites to save all of those worlds. So while he DOES care about the people of the Seven Satrapies, he also has a lot of other things to worry about and an a limit to how much he can safely do to help.
  • God Is Good: The Chromeria thinks so. And they're ultimately proven right.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Burning White explains that the Chromeria's actions have damaged the Blinding Knife by rendering its white luxin dormant; unbalanced as such, it is only capable of killing and destroying. There was a time when it was also able to grant boons to worthy drafters. Gavin restores its full functionality by drafting white luxin at the battle of Ru, probably the first time anyone's done so in centuries. This means that, when Andross is cut with it, it restores him and cures his status as a wight, rather than killing him or rendering him powerless.
  • Great Offscreen War: Most of the setting is defined by the False Prism's War, fought 16 years before the start of The Black Prism. That said, the narration gives up only the broad strokes of the conflict.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The primary belligerents of the story are both portrayed in an unidealistic manner, outlining their vices and virtues in great detail.
    • The Chromeria is corrupt and oppressive, with a power structure sustainable only by the Lost Technology of Blinding Knives. They have outlawed a great deal of drafting and force death on those who break the halo. That said, most of the drafting they've outlawed is incredibly dangerous to the drafter and those around them, and the destruction of Wights keeps the Old Gods from being able to find mortal vessels, which would invite untold ruin.
    • The Blood Robes recognize the humanity of Wights and are set to break the chains of the slave trade. The Color Prince is as successful as he is because he is a builder who rehabilitates the lands he conquers, not a bloodthirsty conqueror. On the other hand, he repeatedly demonstrates a willingness to throw away his followers' lives in the name of drama and petty vengeance. Which is not to mention that his scheme to become a God of Gods can be charitably described as toying with forces he doesn't understand.
  • Guardian Angel: As the heroes struggle against the Djinn, they are provided with loyal immortals to aid them. Unfortunately, their powers seem to be limited in aiding against the Djinn in particular, and not against other mortals.
  • Guile Hero: Gavin the fake. Obviously doubles as a Meaningful Name.
  • Handicapped Badass: Ben-hadad gets shot through the kneecap during the climax of The Broken Eye. Given that he's still a polychrome and a Gadgeteer Genius, he still pulls his weight even though he needs a crutch.
    • In a more figurative sense, Ben is also dyslexic, meaning that he's a brilliant engineer who has difficulty reading.
    • Aram becomes an Evil Counterpart to Ben-hadad, after Cruxer cripples him and he becomes commander of the Lightguard.
  • Hard Light: Pretty much all of the magic in the books is this, complete with 'sub-red' for heat.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted since Corvan isn't actually going to the other side but his leader Dazen, is impersonating their leader Gavin.
  • Heel Realization: Dazen had one in the backstory which helped prompt him to, when given the chance, abandon his own identity and take over Gavin's.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Conn Arthur's brother wound up dead with part of his soul stuck in a giant grizzly courtesy of some Black Magic gone wrong. He knows he has to kill the bear; the pieces of his brother make it confused and dangerous. But he also knows that doing so means his last living relative is well and truly dead. Kip gives him a third option. Arthur convinces the bear to attack the Blood Robes' flank during a pivotal battle, turning the tide and giving him a hero's death.
  • Hidden Depths: Tisis Malargos initially seems ditzy at best, malicious at worst. She's actually a gifted, insightful diplomat and administrator.
  • Hufflepuff House: There are no viewpoint Orange or Chi drafters, giving the reader very little impression of what either is like. Kip theoretically drafts every color, but neither of these is significant to his development, so we never get a good description of what drafting them is like. Orange is particularly bad, since Chi isn't really explored until the final book.
  • Humans Are White: Averted. Of the Seven Satrapies, only the Blood Forest and Ruthgar are mostly fair of skin. The main cast draws heavily from the Blackguard, whom are mostly dark skinned, since that gives a combat advantage of hiding what and how much one is drafting.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: One of the rowers in the Slave Galley that features prominently in The Broken Eye is an old man with a tendency to spout vaguely religious "wisdom," with no substance to it. This has earned him the nickname, "Orholam," since he seems to know everything but never offers anything useful.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: King Garadul to Karris.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The pirate known as Gunner is indisputably regarded as the best shot in the seven satrapies. His real name isn't even Gunner, he's just such an excellent shot that no one calls him anything else.
    • Ironfist has a crisis of faith in the wake of all the Blackguard who died at Garriston. Making a miracle shot at the climax of The Blinding Knife restores his faith in Orholam.
  • In the Blood: All the Guiles have the ability to see weakness. It's not a supernatural thing, but they all can just instinctively tell how to push other people to break them or make them cave into their demands if it's at all possible.
    • Another trait possessed by most (if not all) of the bloodline is an apparently photographic memory.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Color Prince refers to the False Prism's War as "The Prism's War."
    • The Order of the Broken Eye refers to the historical figure Lucidonius exclusively as "Diakoptes," and insists that he was one of their number gone astray.
  • Jerkass: How people saw Gavin the real one before the war "changed" him.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: The Chromeria has banned several types of drafting and submitted drafters to pogroms to keep most of them banned. Each of these techniques is incredibly dangerous to the drafter and those around them. They include:
    • The ability to influence the minds of others via orange hexes.
    • Usurping the control of another being's body via will-casting, which can also kill the drafter if they're not careful.
    • Using black luxin to permanently steal another drafter's powers, drive people insane, and destroy memories.
    • Inviting radiation poisoning with Chi.
    • Creating invisible assassins who can kill without marks via paryl.
    • Additionally, the rule to kill Wights on sight is because most Wights are dangerous, but also because the Old Gods a.k.a. the Djinn require a Wight to be their vessel in the Seven Satrapies.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Andross Guile appears to be an abrasive, heartless old bastard. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find he's a power-mad, abrasive, heartless old bastard. At one point he apologizes to Kip and notes that it's been over 20 years since he apologized last. Lovely.
  • Karma Houdini: Andross Guile manipulates, bribes, guilt trips, compels, and assassinates everyone who crosses his path for more than forty years. He murders one of his sons and pushes another into a position that Andross knows will get him killed. He narrowly avoids the destruction of the Guile name and the Chromeria itself. And is rewarded by being named as Lightbringer and given the office of Prism.
  • Kill the God: Gavin spends a considerable portion of The Blinding Knife searching for the blue bane before it can give birth to a Physical God. He succeeds, but then has to invoke this trope on the green bane at the book's climax.
    • The Old Man of the Desert assigns Gavin to kill Orholam. The former spends most of the final book trying to track the latter down, but doesn't actually make any effort to actually kill him once he meets him.
    • The final book also features Kip and Tiea fighting Abbadon. They eventually kill him by shooting him with his own gun repeatedly. Being an immortal this doesn't properly kill him, but it does permanently banish him from their world.
  • The Lancer: Commander Ironfist is this to Gavin, and Cruxer eventually becomes this to Kip.
  • Large and in Charge: The Guiles have characteristic broad shoulders. This is part of what leads to Kip being accepted as a Guile. There's even a point where Andross is ruled out of a scheme because he's clearly too big to be the Old Man of the Desert. Commander Ironfist is also noted as being a large man, even among the Blackguard.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Each color of luxin has several things it's good at. This trope is one of black's abilities. This is to blame for pieces of information lost to the world at large, as well as a few characters having very specific gaps in their memory.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Color Prince shimmers brightly in every color, his motto is "Light Cannot Be Chained", and is now calling himself the White King. He's a Big Bad.
    • During The Broken Eye, Andross Guile creates the "Lightguard." The Blackguard are an elite cadre of bodyguards and warrior-drafters with a strict code of ethics. The Lightguard are an army of poorly trained Mooks, most of whom can't even draft, whose job is whatever Andross Guile commands.
  • Lightning Bruiser: One of the reasons that Ironfist is such a terrifying combatant is that he is both very strong and very fast.
  • Loophole Abuse: Kip has a tendency to do this. When he is assigned a math problem to figure out exactly how much luxin is needed to replace a broken counterweight, Kip skips the problem entirely by using luxin to repair the broken weight instead.
    • This is also actively encouraged by the Blackguards during testing because, as one Blackguard puts in, "Blackguards don't cheat, they win". Explicit rules are strongly enforced, but loophole abuse is expected, because finding recruits who can come up with clever ways to avoid danger and keep themselves alive (while completing the mission) is a high priority. A notable example is when Kip and Teia hire a courier for a single danar to deliver the other 7 danars that were given to them so they don't have to fight an entire gauntlet of thugs after being publicly given the money. The other trainees who worked together to run the gauntlet are upset they sidestepped the challenge, but Ironfist points out that if you're charged with protecting a VIP, avoiding fights altogether is the best way to deal with the situation.
    • Used on a much grander scale by the Two Hundred. The Immortals exist outside of time and can choose to manifest wherever and whenever they want. The catch is, there is only one timeline and it's shared by all of creation. Once an immortal is manifest, they have locked in their location during that place in time, closing themselves off to manifesting anywhere else in The Multiverse during that time. They get around this by working indirectly through a willing, mortal host. This why the old gods even existed. It seems that they can eventually wear down their mortal host, taking more and more direct control over time. It's implied that the invisible servant provided to each of the old gods is the actual Immortal in question, slowly working their way into the mortal vessel's mind.
  • Lost Technology: Lucidonius was able to craft tinted spectacles for the entire spectrum some four centuries before the series started. This may have even included paryl and chi. Beyond making drafting a color dramatically easier, wearing the appropriate spectacles would allow even a non-drafter to see colors outside the visible spectrum. In modern times, the Chromeria only knows how to make spectacles of the five colors within the visible spectrum.
    • Much later, we learn of several wonders of the pre-Lucidonian Nine Kingdoms, most of them based on drafting that the Chromeria has banned. These include long-range communication via Chi, invisibility by Paryl, and the creation of blinding knives via both black and white in tandem.
    • The drafting of white luxin is approximately this trope, since its loss was unintentional.
  • Lottery of Doom: Gavin and his mother arranged one in the backstory. Using a rigged lottery and claiming it to be Orholam's will, Gavin put all of the agitators in the Blood War, an endless conflict based on the Cycle of Revenge, in line and killed them off one by one until the remaining nobles lost the will to continue the fight.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Gavin claims to be this to Kip.
    • Subverted because Gavin isn't really Gavin. He's actually Kip's uncle, Dazen who took Gavin's place.
    • And then it turns out Andross is Kip's father. Maybe.
    • This SEEMS to be finally settled in the final book when Andross tells Kip that Felia had incorrectly believe Kip to be his Bastard. The real Gavin is actually Kips father, although Dazen intends to act as Kip's father.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Luxin and drafting are given very specific and defined functions and rules, down to each color having its own properties, strengths, and limitations. There are a number of things that aren't known to the character or world at large, like Paryl or Chi drafting, but as they are introduced they also have their rules clearly defined.
  • Mama Bear: Felia confesses to killing off anyone who knows, or even suspects, that Gavin is actually Dazen.
  • Meaningful Name: Gavin Guile, and the the whole Guile family, really.
    • Paryl and chi. Chi is implied to be x-rays, since "chi" is how to pronounce the Greek alphabet's version of X. Paryl also has a real-world equivalent in microwaves.
  • The Mole: Commander Ironfist joined the Blackguard on the orders of his superiors in the Order of the Broken Eye.
  • Moral Event Horizon: All reports agree that Gavin (the real one) crossed one in his teens. A caring, sensitive child was replaced with a vicious, angry young man. The Burning White explains that this is because he was forced to murder his younger brother, Sevastian and that within a few months, he learned that it was for nothing.
  • The Multiverse: Described as "The Thousand Worlds" that immortals battle over, but the books all take place on a single world. One of the few checks on the powers of the Djinn is that manifesting anywhere in the mortal world means that they cannot be anywhere else, including any others worlds, during that period of time. A few minor mentions are made of things happening on other worlds, and at the end of the last book when Kip and Teia kill Abbadon, it is explicitly said that it permanently banishes him from their world.
  • Mundane Utility: Drafting is used for a lot of utilitarian purposes, such as blue, green, and yellow for construction and red as a firestarter. The catch is that luxin meant to be permanent requires perfect color perception—called superchromacy in-universe—to pick the exact shade that will have the required properties without crumbling to dust when the drafter stops concentrating. Interestingly, this is drastically more common in female drafters (roughly 50% of women are superchromats, compared to less than 1% of men).
    • At one point, a Blackguard uses subred drafting to keep a cup of coffee warm.
    • A special award goes to the Nuqaba, who uses the orange seed crystal—foundation of a nascent Old God—as a lie detector.
  • Names to Run Away From:Murder Sharp. Also Marrow Sucker.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: There are two full spectrum polychromes in the series who are only properly revealed as such when it's suitably dramatic. That being said, there are a number of hints in both cases such that it could be guessed.
    • Kip is revealed when it means that a corrupt captain can use that knowledge to sabotage his chance at being admitted to the Blackguard.
    • Andross let the world know he was a polychrome, but the fact that he was full spectrum isn't revealed for most of the series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Banes normally all spawn in the same part of the Cerulean Sea, and Sea Demons usually eat them when they're small. But Gavin has done such a good job of balancing the world's colors that the number of Bane created dropped dramatically. This led the Sea Demons to spread out and look for other food. When he lost his Prism powers the Bane's natural predators were searching for food elsewhere, allowing an unheard-of number of them to make it to the open sea.
  • Noodle Incident: The Battle of Sundered Rock. It's alluded to in every book, but the actual details of the battle—beyond it being where one of the two Prisms defeated the other and took his brother's place and thus ending the False Prism's War—are vague.
    • This is finally explained in The Burning White. Due to the sheer amount of black Luxin drafted by Dazen Guile, everyone at or near the battle lost their memory of it. It's a Noodle Incident because no one can recite what happened that day.
  • Not Quite Dead: The Color Prince is Karris's brother Koios, whom everyone assumed Gavin killed early in the False Prism's War.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Gunner. Or at least some of it, according to Gavin. The cheerful, bombastic, Crazy Awesome part. The part where he points a gun right at your face with murder in his eyes because you told him you destroyed something he wanted? Quite real.
    • Andross Guile's natural discipline and willfulness hides the fact that he broke the halo and has been a color wight for an extended period of time.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A recurring theme is that the Spectrum's wariness of Gavin is a major factor in the Color Prince's success. They've been so focused on stymying the dashing, cunning, and popular Prism from becoming too powerful that other aspects of Chromerian politics have suffered, leaving the Seven Satrapies ripe for rebellion.
  • Obviously Evil: The Dead Man in the black prison is different from all the others. It isn't clear what it is, but when its mask slips, its malevolence is clear.
    • Much later, we learn that each Dead Man is an imprisoned Djinn that Gavin caught and captured. The only reason he stopped at eight was that there were too few drafters of the remaining colors to make wights.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There's a young Blackguard who's also named "Gavin." It's implied that he was named after Gavin Guile.
    • There's also the incident in the final book where the real Orholam takes the appearance of the prophet "Orholam." It takes Gavin a few minutes of conversation to realize the difference.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A common custom for Blackguards. Many other characters do the same. While Kip is known equally by either of his names, this trope is applied to Ironfist, Tremblefist, Murder Sharp, Gunner, and Grinwoody, though all of them have their birth names said at least once.
    • Subverted by Lord Omnichrome/the Color Prince/the White King. As the story goes on, more and more people call him by his real name, Koios Whiteoak.
  • Only One Name: Though frequently referred to as "a Guile," later in the series, no one actually calls him Zymun Guile. Just " Zymun."
  • Our Genies Are Different: There are creatures referred to as "Djinn," in the later books, but they cleave much closer to Fallen Angel tropes than Genie tropes.
  • Our Wights Are Different: Very different indeed. Color wights are what happens when a drafter overdoses on the amount of magic they can safely use and "break the halo", permanently staining their eyes in their color and giving their color's attributes a much-increased influence on their personality — often driving them mad. In most of the world, a color wight is put down like a mad dog.
  • Out of Focus: We see very little of The Color Prince during The Broken Eye, though his ongoing conquest of Blood Forest is mentioned in passing from time to time. The Blinding White barely shows him at all.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Hits during The Broken Eye. As the Color Prince's rebellion grows from a minor insurrection into a full-fledged civil war, Kip becomes aware of Abaddon and the Djinn. And thus a story of political differences igniting a war turns into a struggle against godlike Fallen Angel chessmasters from outside time.
  • Papa Wolf: Andross has been secretly eliminating anyone who might know, or even suspect, that Gavin is actually Dazen.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Felia realized that Gavin was actually Dazen the moment she saw him, though her more heartless husband didn't. He figured it out seven years later.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Not so much arranged as rather done for political reasons, but Corvan Danavis and The Third Eye are certainly very happy with each other.
    • As of the end of the fourth book, Kip and Tisis as well.
  • Permission to Speak Freely: Gavin Grayling asks for this from Karris on his deathbed, halos broken and uses it to denounce Zyman as a sociopath.
  • Physical God: The Color Prince's endgame is to create and control these. We see one as early as The Blinding Knife.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Gavin the fake actually spends some time lamenting over this when he realizes how much he has to change to successfully impersonate his brother. His mother helps.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Because Liv doesn't know about the Prism really being Dazen, she assumes that everything Prism Gavin does in regards to her and her father has a sinister motive behind it, as her father served under Dazen during the False Prism's War. This ultimately leads to her defecting to Lord Omnichrome.
    • Ironfist kills Cruxer in self-defense because the younger man doesn't understand the elder one's motives.
  • Posthumous Character: Gavin's mother Felia dies in the first book. One of the most important plot moments of the second book is delivered via a letter she wrote before her death and instructed a servant to bring to Karris after.
  • The Power of Hate: Dazen feels the call of black luxin when his anger and hatred are strongest.
  • The Power of Love: In contrast to black, white luxin is drafted when the drafter feels a complete, almost sacrificial, love and affection towards others.
  • Power Parasite: Black luxin allows a drafter to steal another drafter's power. However, the stolen power eventually wanes and needs to be replenished.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: It's established relatively early that the Blinding Knife is used to make Prisms. The details aren't revealed until The Burning White. The black luxin in the Knife transfers the power of those killed with it into the wielder. The catch is, it only takes the power left until the drafter breaks the halo. Thus, even a few dozen drafter's murdered in the Freeing won't keep the Prism going until next Sun-Day. But a few, carefully chosen preteens whose powers have just awakened? Well, a few murdered children is a small price to pay for the good of the Seven Satrapies, isn't isn't it?
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Averted. The question of who is the Lightbringer—if anyone currently living—is a major plot point, particularly in The Burning White, and some of the prophecies about the Lightbringer seem mutually exclusive. Orholam eventually reveals that there never was one predestined Lightbringer, but rather many people who could become the Lightbringer by their own actions. Andross is "officially" considered the Lightbringer, but it's still not 100% clear.
  • The Prophecy: The series is named for the Lightbringer, a prophesied deliverer. There is considerable debate which of the main cast is the Lightbringer, or if the Lightbringer already came, 400 years ago.
  • Prophecy Twist: Defied by the Third Eye, who finds the whole "vague prophecy" shtick annoying and speaks as clearly and precisely as she can. She is still somewhat vague on some occasions, as in some cases telling people exactly what they would like to know will change their actions, making the Prophecy invalid.
  • Prophet Eyes: Long-term use of paryl without adequate protection leads many of its users to graduate from Black Eyes of Evil to this trope, again fitting its uses as in part a color of "sight beyond sight."
  • Punny Name: There's a squad of will-cast horses in book 4, trained at fighting after sunset. Their name? The Nightmares, of course.
  • Rape as Backstory: Kip's mother Lina was raped by Kip's father. Things get complicated from here: Kip's uncle Dazen is impersonating Kip's presumed father Gavin. Kip's grandfather, Andross, claims that he is actually Kip's father. Andross has stated it wasn't a case of rape, but rather revenge. However in the final book he says he's not actually Kips father.
  • Refusal of the Call: The prophet "Orholam" mentions that the real Orholam calls many to be prophets, but most of them refuse. Late in The Burning White, one such failed prophet pushes to the front of the crowd to give Kip a message that sounds like nonsense to him, but he swears comes from Orholam. It works.
  • Scary Black Man: Ironfist and Tremblefist, brothers with huge builds and excellent drafting abilities.
    • Drafters with darker skin have an advantage over lighter skinned ones—it's harder to see if and what color they are drafting while the luxin is under their skin—so Blackguards are traditionally dark skinned, (part of the reason for the name) and potential Scary Black Men (or women).
  • Required Secondary Powers: Humans can normally only see outside the visible spectrum if they can draft a color outside the spectrum. Paryl and Chi drafters draft a color even further beyond the visible spectrum than subred and superviolet, respectively. They can also see the colors on the way to their own, even if they can't draft them.
    • Tragically averted for Chi drafters. Their "color" is in fact X-ray radiation, and they are no more protected from it than normal humans are, leading most Chi drafter's to an early grave courtesy of radiation poisoning.
  • Retcon: The exact nature (and number) of prisons that Gavin built in the Chromeria's heart is revised several times over the course of the series. Justified in that the copious amounts of black Luxin involved make memories hazy.
  • Retired Badass: Corvan Davanis. At least at first.
  • The Reveal: At least Once an Episode.
    • About a third of the way through The Black Prism, we learn that Gavin is actually Dazen, and the real Gavin is still alive in an elaborate prison in the Prism's Tower.
    • At the end of The Blinding Knife, we learn that Andross Guile has been acting so brazenly because he's been a red wight for some time. Flashbacks in The Burning White state that this is the reason that he and Felia have separate apartments, so he's actually been a red wight for as long as the reader has known him.
    • In the First Epilogue of The Broken Eye, it's revealed that Ironfist has been a member of the Order of the Broken Eye longer than the Blackguard, and Grinwoody is the Order's leader.
    • ''The Blood Mirror starts off early with the revelation that Marissia was the late White's granddaughter and was never technically a slave. But it's big payload was that Dazen didn't spare his brother at the battle of Sundered Rock, and any experience to the contrary is a false memory created by black Luxin.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Abaddon designed his weapon to look like a revolver. He's clear that it doesn't actually work like one, he just appreciated the aesthetic. When it's actually fired, it's able to fire dozens of bullets without a reload.
  • Reverse Mole: Most of Teia's viewpoint chapters detail her infiltration of the Order of the Broken Eye on orders of the White.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tremblefist went on one in the backstory that was so bad that a true Nine Kings card was made to represent it.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
    • It's something of an open secret that the rules don't really apply to Andross Guile anymore. He did abide by an obscure rule from a generation previous, at great personal cost.
    • It's also true of nobles and wealthy individuals in general. There are a number of rules about things like making and treating slaves that characters ignore without issue.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Gavin built a number of prisons in the heart of the Chromeria. He included a will-casting of himself to serve as a sort of jailer. Except that the thing in the black cell is something else. Gavin's Laser-Guided Amnesia has hidden from him exactly what it is, but it's Obviously Evil.
    • It turns out that all of the Dead Men are not will-castings, but imprisoned Djinn that Gavin has trapped, of which the black is by far the worst.
  • Secret Keeper: Gavin's mother and Corvan Danavis are this about the fact that Dazen switched places with Gavin during the Prisms' War.
    • Gavin's parents have separate apartments in The Black Prism because Felia can keep the secret that Andross has gone red wight but doesn't feel comfortable sleeping in the same room with him.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Both Orea and Andross know that Gavin is actually Dazen, but they keep it to themselves for the good of the empire.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: The Nine Kings cards can be 'experienced' by a drafter of the appropriate colour. A full spectrum polychrome can experience a card as if it were a virtual reality simulation. Lacking affinity with a certain colour means that the experience will lack sight, sound, etc.
    • Later in the series, will-casting had all the same limitations. Exactly the same. To the point that when Kip guesses what senses each color enables, he gets it exactly right and makes the will-casters suspicious that he actually does know how this nominally forbidden magic works.
  • Selfless Wish: After going through absolute hell, Gavin is given a wish from Orholam himself. Despite his desire to save Kip and Karris, he wishes for Orholam to offer mercy to the previous Prisms who became Sea Demons, the only creatures he knows nobody would wish for. Orholam rewards his selflessness by healing Dazen in the epilogue anyway. Of course fitting with Gavin's character, he points out that Orholam certainly had no intention of abandoning Kip, Karris and the Chromeria regardless of his wish.
  • Sequel Escalation: Aglaia Crassos is a standout psychopath from The Black Prism. She is a positive kitten compared to Murder Sharp, as illustrated by their meeting in The Blinding Knife.
  • Shout-Out: The series is stuffed full of quotations and references from a huge swath of sources, ranging from The Bible to Lord Byron to The Princess Bride.
    • The card game Nine Kings (and perhaps Corvan Danavis' name) is an awesome one to The Chronicles of Amber.
    • Murder Sharp makes a prominent statement of "It's immortality of a sort," in The Burning White. That phrase was a set of Arc Words in the later books of The Black Company. The Black Company is often cited as the grandfather of the sort of gritty, gray and grey fantasy the series exemplifies.
    • Quentin's name is a shout-out to the protagonist of Stephen R. Lawhead's Dragon King trilogy.
  • Slave Collar: Both played straight and subverted.
    • Slaves are denoted in the Chromeria by clipping off the top of their ears. Perhaps intentionally, this means freed slaves can't hide their past.
    • The Color Prince has special collars made of black luxin that let him monitor the wearers and decapitate them if he deems necessary. These collars are reserved for the wielders of seed crystals a.k.a. the new gods. Gavin is eventually given one of these by the Old Man of the Desert, fashioned into an eyepatch instead of a choker.
  • Slave Galley: Gavin ends the second book in one of these.
  • Slave Liberation: Happens a few times in The Blinding Knife where Gavin frees his slave because he is marrying Karris and fears she will get jealous considering the particular kind of service Marissia offered. Then Gavin's mother's will contains instructions for her personal slave to be freed. Finally it's subverted when Teia specifically asks Kip not to free her so that they can split the money that owners get when their slaves make it into the Blackguard. Of course she only does this after he makes it clear he has no intention of taking advantage of her, and because getting into the Blackguard means you are freed from slavery.
  • Smug Snake: Zymun thinks he's the greatest, most brilliant mastermind around. As he lives in a world containing the Color Prince and Andross Guile... he's really not.
  • The Sociopath: Zymun is a textbook case — outwardly charming, lacking in anything that might be called empathy or conscience, craving constant stimulation, inflated sense of self-worth, etc. As the books go on, he loses most of the "outwardly charming" aspects.
    • The Nuqaba has a very vivid taste for torture. Rumor has it that she tortured her late husband for years.
    • Winson is a heroic version. It's said that he can make incredible, dangerous shots that no one else can make, in part because he's willing to take shots no one else would take due to the risk to himself or allies.
  • The Squad: Eventually dubbed "the Mighty."
  • Squishy Wizard: Largely averted. Drafting is often physically demanding (best illustrated by all the pushing and rowing required by the Falcon in the first book). While a drafter isn't necessarily a warrior, the story's focus on the Blackguard means that most of the on-screen drafters are are in peak physical condition and are just as deadly with mundane weapons as with Magic. Occasionally a character without as much martial training (like Gavin) will lament how he's actually quite weak relative to the people around him.
  • The Starscream: The Color Prince always intended to make a martyr out of King Garadul.
    • Ferrilux is certain from almost the moment of her ascension that the servant she was provided with is malevolent. It's implied that this servant is the actual Old God, and is vying for control of her, its vessel.
  • Start of Darkness: Everyone who knew agrees that there was a point where the real Gavin changed for the worse. He lost his innocence, and went from a caring older brother to a harsh and violent man. The Burning White reveals that this was caused by being made to murder his brother Sevastian in order to make himself Prism, only for Dazen to manifest Prismatic powers on his own a few months later, meaning that Sevastian's death was unnecessary.
  • Stout Strength: Kip is fat and clumsy, but also a lot stronger than he looks.
  • Superpower Lottery: Gavin actually Dazen. A natural lightsplitter and black luxin created full-spectrum polychrome who can also draft white. The Color Prince lampshades that the man has too many gifts.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: It's Dazen's (the false one's) goal to escape one of these constructed by his brother. The prison is covered in blue luxin and the food he's given is dyed blue, which for a drafter promotes calmness and is meant to keep him sedated. There's a crisscrossing pattern of luxin in the floor that goes down several feet and blocks his drafting abilities if he tries to dig through. Dazen gets around this by slowly carving out a depression in the wall over sixteen years using his fingernails and then covering the depression with a mixture made of his hair, skin, body oils and sweat. Then he urinates on the bowl and uses light that leaked in during Dazen's (the real one's) visits so that the bowl turns yellow enough for him to see. He drafts a small amount of yellow luxin, turns it into the light needed to draft, and then seeps out the heat from the fever in his body to create a spark, which burns the bowl and manages to break through the wall. The hole leads to an obsidian-lined tunnel. Obsidian, when in perfect darkness and through an entrance in the body, seeps luxin away from a drafter so as he crawls through the tunnel, the cuts created by the sharp obsidian on his body allow it to drain away his left-over luxin. The tunnel leads to a similar green room and it turns out that there are seven rooms, one for each colour and presumably connected with their own obsidian-lined tunnels.
    • However, real Gavin later figures out that there couldn't be seven prisons, and probably not even five. He believes that there are only 3 prisons: blue, green and yellow. The properties of superviolet and sub-red make it impossible for solid, stable rooms to be constructed from them, and it would be difficult to make ones from red and orange.
    • Of course, all of these precautions are moot when the real Dazen kills him, upon realizing even the possibility of his brother escaping is too much of a threat.
    • In the fourth book we learn that there are more cells, but all the cells' purpose was not what the reader was initially lead to believe.
  • Take a Third Option: Gavin's specialty, and Kip gets pretty good at it, too. The Guiles in generally will basically always find a third option if you give them a chance.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: At the end of The Broken Eye, Gavin wakes to discover that Andross has consigned him to the prison he kept his brother locked in for sixteen years, now repaired.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Played with. Nearly every important position in Seven Satrapies is held by a drafter. The only exception is the Black, a position traditionally held by a non-drafter...who also doesn't vote on policy, and mostly just handles logistics. However most drafters break the halo around forty, meaning that there are very few elderly drafters, and many of the most powerful people in the world are in their twenties, thirties, or even teens.
    • There are some exceptions, like Orea Pullawr or Andross Guile, who intentionally avoid drafting to keep their halos intact.
    • The False Prism's War was led by a teenager on both sides. Corvan Danavis was cited as a masterful general, but is only in his early forties at the start of The Black Prism, sixteen years later.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Orea Pullawr allows herself to be murdered by the Order, so that she might set up Karris as her successor, rather than one of Andross Guile's pawns.
  • Think Nothing of It: Gavin has a habit of helping people and never seeking recognition for it.
  • This Loser Is You: Kip is fat, awkward and often not terribly bright, while being surrounded by hyper-competent people with impressive skills and cool powers. He's also the main point of view character.
    • Over the course of the series he matures dramatically, and overcoming this self-image is one of his biggest personal challenges.
  • Title Drop: Played with. While the titles of the other books are fairly obvious, the meaning behind The Black Prism isn't explained until The Blood Mirror, and it's done via this trope.
  • Trilogy Creep: Averted. The official title of the series is The Lightbringer Series, because he didn't want to be called out for calling it a trilogy if he ended up going to an additional book. That turned out to be a smart decision, because the series is now being expanded by two books, concluding with a total of five.
  • Twin Switch: Variation; Gavin and Dazen aren't actually twins, just siblings who bear a striking resemblance to each other, but they look enough alike for Dazen to have spent more than a decade pretending to be Gavin. Several people noticed, of corse..
  • Uncoffee: Played with. It's coffee, all right, but it's referred to by its Southeast Asian name of "kopi."
  • Unreliable Narrator: One of the viewpoint characters of The Black Prism and all their plotline is revealed to have been an elaborate hallucination in The Blood Mirror, caused by some particularly nasty Black Magic.
  • UST: Between Gavin and Karris until book 2, where they finally marry.
  • Was Once a Man: Soon after breaking the halo, most wights "improve" their body by replacing flesh with luxin. In some cases, it gets quite ghoulish. For example, blue wights have a tendency to replace their eyelids with transparent blue luxin.
    • Later on, Soulcasting and its side effects are detailed. Soulcasting requires inserting part of one's soul into an animal or person, taking some degree of direct control. If the drafter dies during a soulcast—which can happen from soulcasting itself if the drafter forgets to breathe, or through outside intervention—whatever part of their soul that was in the animal can't leave. The resulting creature is confused, unable to remember which of the two souls in it is its own. This leads to confused animals "remembering" where the human's friends were and going there, only to attack them in its confusion. The prophet "Orholam" also claims that sea demons used to be gentle creatures, but were made the way they are by ancient drafter soulcasting them and leaving their souls inside after their human bodies were long since dead.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Teia's whole hat. As a paryl monochrome, her abilities are unusual but powerful, although more subtle than most drafting. She's still quite capable in a fight as a blackguard trainee, but the unique skillset of paryl is incredibly valuable, particularly as an assassin.
    • This is eventually revealed to be what got Karris into the Blackguard. Her physical condition was so far behind expectation that training nearly killed her. But her dedication and the speed at which she drafted showed the trainers that she would be worth some special attention. Being just shy of a polychrome didn't hurt.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Color Prince... maybe. He tells two versions of his motivation, one (for his followers in general) that he's liberating the Seven Satrapies from the tyranny of a corrupt Chromeria, and one (to Liv) that he only cares about power (and that deep down, so does everyone else). It's unclear for much of the series which, if either, is his actual motivation. He turns out to be a megalomaniac with designs on godhood, but does believe his own hype, so a bit of both. It's explicitly and repeatedly pointed out that while he fails to offer a better alternative, he does have a point about the Chromeria's corruption.
  • Wham Line: Gavin specifically seems to get hit with (or deliver) at least one of these a book.
    • "I am Dazen Guile, and I stole your life."
    • Pretty much everything the Dead Man says to Gavin in the cells. Though it turns out most of it was lies and half-truths.
    • Gavin was the Black Prism.
    • "Oh, but I Am." And thus Gavin realized he'd met the real Orholam.
    • "Dazen, I chose him to die because you were my favorite. You always were."
    • "A blue wight would have been able to handle two children, don't you think?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see of Aliviana Danavis is her healing her father after the battle. Even if she was only tenuously allied with the Wight King, and doesn't share his fanatical hatred of the Chromeria, it's hard to imagine that they'd simply ignore a very powerful wight bonded with a djinn, but there's no mention of her at all.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Teia's story arc in The Blinding Knife mostly consists of her moping about being a monochrome in a color most people doesn't even know exists and that is poorly suited to a soldier's life. By the The Burning White, she's learned that Heart Is an Awesome Power; paryl's abilities are narrow but synergize well, making her a terrifying assassin. Plus most people have no idea what she can do, making it far more effective.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Gavin has three big instances across the series.
    • When Gavin sees Kip surrounded by King Garadul and his men he realizes he could just leave the boy to die and save himself a lot of future problems. He doesn't.
    • The last two all involve him not using black luxin. The first was when the Nuqaba attempts to gouge out his eyes to the cheers of the very people he fought all these years to protect, the second when Andross, having left him alone for months in the black prison, made the decision to kill Dazen. Orholam himself considers Gavin's refusal to save himself while taking revenge on the people who've so very wronged him to be his finest moments.
  • Why Can't I Hate You?: Kip finds Andross and his methods abhorrent, but no matter how much he tries some part of him actually likes the old bastard.
  • Wicked Cultured: The Color Prince and Andross Guile are both highly intelligent, educated men who enjoy the finer things in life.
  • William Telling: Gunner decides to shoot an apple off of Gavin's head, from across the length of his boat on high seas. Gavin ups the ante and dares Gunner to shoot the apple out of his mouth instead. Gunner nails the shot. Having a magic rifle certainly helps.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: There's a limit to how much you can draft in your lifetime, and going over that limit or "breaking the halo" drives you mad and you become a color wight.
    • Except Prisms, who don't halo at all. Gavin seems to breaks the halo in the fourth book, but he is a black luxin user rather than a typical Prism: he can absorb drafting ability by killing others, which is how he got his polychromacy in the first place.
      • And The Colour Prince seems surprisingly rational, though the fact that he's a polychrome wight means he's likely influenced in enough different directions to have found something of an equilibrium.
    • As of the second book: it is heavily implied that the teachings of the Chromeria emphasize the insanity aspects, and many wights go mad out of paranoia. However, a wight is a potential host for the old gods, and a bane induces madness and a lack of control in ALL nearby drafters of the associated color. The third book shows that going mad is a very real danger, since one of the Chromeria's loyal drafters is changed enough by breaking the halo to go over to the Color Prince voluntarily.
    • Andross had gone wight before Felia's death in The Black Prism, if not earlier, yet no one suspected until it was revealed at the end of The Blinding Knife.
    • Likewise Ferrilux a.k.a Liv Danavis and Mott both seemed changed by breaking their halos, but not insane.

Alternative Title(s): The Lightbringer Trilogy

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