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Literature / The Lightbringer Series

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Artwork by Miguel Coimbra
The Lightbringer Series is a series of fantasy novels by Brent Weeks, the author of The Night Angel Trilogy. The concluding volumes have yet to appear.

The Lightbringer Series is set 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 cast 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.

So far, the series consists of:

  • The Black Prism (2010)
  • The Blinding Knife (2012)
  • The Broken Eye (2014)
  • The Blood Mirror (2016)
  • The Burning White (expected release 22 October 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.
  • Abusive Parents: Kip's mother, of the emotional and neglectful kind. Andross Guile of the ambitious, ruthless, controlling and domineering kind.
  • Action Girl: Karris, Liv, Teia, any female Blackguard and many female drafters.
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  • Anti-Hero: Gavin, definitely—he genuinely wants to do good by his empire, but that doesn't mean he's not manipulative and ruthless at it. Most of the other protagonists have shades of this as well.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Andross Guile, to Gavin. And also Andross Guile, to Kip, although Kip isn't aware of this yet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: Two main ones, who are mostly independent with the occasional collusion: Lord Omnichrome, aka the Color Prince, aka Koios White Oak aka the White King and Andross Guile.
  • Becoming the Mask: Gavin
  • Berserk Button: Kip presses one for Karris when he calls her mother.
  • Body Horror: What happens to Drafters when their halo breaks.
    • Worst part: They voluntarily do it to themselves. As in "replacing eyelids with blue glass" and "implanting solidified heat into the palms of their hands."
  • Black Eyes of Evil: paryl's bad reputation isn't helped by the fact that drafting it requires the ability to open one's irises beyond normal human limits, giving this appearance while it's being used. As a color with properties lending it to clandestine uses, however, the reputation is not entirely undeserved.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 likely intentional and awaiting a big pay-off.
  • Cain and Abel: Gavin and Dazen. The series plays a great deal with which is which.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The gift Lina gave to Kip, specifically the case it was in.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Called Luxin (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 Chessmaster: The White and Gavin the fake one both have hints of this. The Color Prince and Andross Guile have more than shades.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone. Gavin, Karris, Ironfist and the White probably take the cake, though.
  • 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 Black Guard, 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.
  • 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' where they will be killed while still themselves.
  • 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.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Blights
  • 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.
  • Energy Absorption: Obsidian, when in perfect darkness and through an entrance to the body, can seep away luxin from a drafter when touched to the drafter's skin.
    • Living Black Luxin (whereas Obsidian/Hellstone is the 'dead' version) also absorbs light, luxin, memories, and the drafter's sanity.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Color Prince to Gavin. Zymun to Kip.
  • 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.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Mix and Match Trooper. Armies use cannons, pistols, rifles and at least one blunderbuss. The Big Bad's Weapon of Choice is essentially a primitive sniper rifle.
    • 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.
  • Eye Scream Gavin and HOW.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Liv joins Lord Omnichrome after being persuaded that the Chromeria is corrupt.
  • 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.
  • A God Am I: The Prism supposedly has unlimited ability to draft luxin of any color and is revered as something close to a demigod.
    • Also, the Color Prince, Lord Omnichrome.
  • Guile Hero: Gavin the fake. Obviously doubles as a Meaningful Name.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Depths: Tisis Malargos.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: How people saw Gavin the real one before the war "changed" him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Loophole Abuse: Kip has a tendency to do this. When he is assigned a math problem where they need to figure out exactly how much Blue Luxin is needed to replace a broken counterweight, Kip skips the problem entirely with the idea to use Blue 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, probably because there aren't that many Blackguards overall so 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 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 underhandedness to avoid fights all together is the best way to deal with the situation.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Gavin claims to be this to Kip. He's actually Kip's uncle, since Kip's father is the real Gavin and "Gavin" is Dazen.
    • Subverted because Gavin isn't really Gavin. He's Dazen.
    • And now it turns out Andross is Kip's father.
  • Names to Run Away From: Murder Sharp. Also Marrow Sucker.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Luxin and Drafting are given very specific and defined functions and rules.
  • Meaningful Name: Gavin Guile, and the the whole Guile family, really.
    • Paryl.
    • Chi, another "mythical" colour. Meaningful because it's strongly implied to be x-rays. Chi is how to pronounce the Greek alphabet's version of X.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Gavin the fake actually spends some time lamenting over the fact 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.
  • 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"
  • Rape as Backstory: Kip's mother, Lina was by Kip's father. Which is where things get complicated seeing as Kip's uncle is impersonating Kip's father.Things get even more complicated as we find out Andross is actually Kips father, who has stated it wasn't a case of rape, but rather revenge.
  • Scary Black Man: Ironfist
    • Tremblefist, to a lesser extent
    • 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 there are a lot of dark Blackguards and potential Scary Black Men.
  • Retired Badass: Corvan Davanis. At least at first.
  • Secret Keeper: Gavin's mother and Corvan Danavis are this about the fact that Dazen switched places with Gavin during the Prisms' War
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: The card game Nine Kings (and perhaps Corvan Danavis' name) is an awesome one to The Chronicles of Amber.
  • 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 Marissa 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.
  • Stout Strength: Kip is fat and clumsy, but also a lot stronger than he looks.
  • 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 (correctly if Dazen's reaction is anything to go by) deduces 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 almost unlikely 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • UST: Between Gavin and Karris until book 2, where they finally marry.
  • 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 at this point which, if either, is his actual motivation.
  • Wham Line: "I am Dazen Guile, and I stole your life."
    • Pretty much everything the Dead Man says to Gavin in the cells.
  • Wicked Cultured: The Color Prince
  • 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.
  • 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. subverted, as it's revealed that Prisms can indeed break the halo, in the fourth book. But this is played straight in the fact that Gavin is revealed to be a black luxin user, able to absorb luxin from others, and use it. The ability to use black luxin does indeed, drive him mad.
      • 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 gods of the luxin itself (the Blights), and a Blight 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, with certain of the Chromeria's loyal drafters being changed enough by breaking the halo to go over to the Color Prince entirely voluntarily, though it doesn't happen to every wight.

Alternative Title(s): The Lightbringer Trilogy


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