Nov 19, 2016

Thoughts on the Lightbringer series

This one's a bit overdue. I read all 4 currently-written books of the Lightbringer series about a month back. It was a pretty serious reading binge unlike anything I've done (certainly off vacation) in years. It felt good. I'm not sure Lightbringer is good enough in its own right to justify the exceptionalism, but there was a confluence of events that made the opportunity ripe, not least of which is that the fourth book was released just as I finished the third.

My favorite thing about Lightbringer is the premise: a magic system based on the absorption and manipulation of colors of light. I think the execution was a bit flubbed... the actual use of the power typically takes the form of a blunt (magical) instrument and there's relatively little nuance to the system. Brent Weeks, the author, reels in that power by making it finite: a practitioner can only manipulate so much light in a lifetime for losing his or her sanity. The system works, but it's not quite as neat as I feel that it could be.

The writing feels unwieldy at times. The plot turns on major twists that aren't properly set up or explored. Secondary characters' motivations are sometimes never really properly explained. The economic system of the world feels like it would fall apart under anything more than the most cursory of inspections. The combination of these factors is probably what separates Lightbringer from being of the top fantasy series.

Still, they're good books. Engrossing. Entertaining. They delve into all of the standard themes you expect of fantasy. Special depth into what it means to be a good person and leader, moral relativism, and the pursuit of exceptionalism. A little heavy handed on the idea that talent is innate, not developed.

If the author gets the fifth (and final) book out soon enough, I'll definitely read it. But not a series that I would be eager to go through again.