After finishing up the Lightbringer series for good with the finale of The Burning White, I decided it would be best provide a Lightbringer series review from a wholistic perspective.
I will be giving you my take on the strengths and weaknesses in this Lightbringer series review and ultimately whether or not I believe this fantasy series is worth the read.
If you’re not familiar with how I conduct my series reviews, I typically just deliver the general gist of the series to give you an idea of whether or not this series might be to your liking. I refrain from analyzing specific plot details that would spoil the reading experience for you.
This Lightbringer series review is meant to be a preview trailer, not a plot summary.
In short, this Lightbringer series review DOES NOT contain any major spoilers for the plot of the Lightbringer series. Enjoy!
What is the Lightbringer series?
The Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks is an epic fantasy series composed of five novels in the following order:
- The Black Prism (Lightbringer #1)
- The Blinding Knife (Lightbringer #2)
- The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3)
- The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer #4)
- The Burning White (Lightbringer #5)
The debut novel, The Black Prism, came out in August of 2010 and quickly rose to stardom, giving momentum to the following four novels of the series.
The final volume of the Lightbringer series The Burning White was released in October of 2019, nearly a decade after the debut novel hit the shelves.
If you would like to get a more of a coherent idea of an individual novel in the Lightbringer series, click on the link of the particular novel of interest above to access my comprehensive non-spoiler book review.
What is unique about the Lightbringer series?
The Lightbringer series is based around a magic system where power stems from crafting “luxin” from color seen in everyday life.
What is luxin you may ask?
Luxin is a physical substance manifested from light that can take a variety of forms according to the will of the drafter (the individual wielding the light manifesting power).
Luxin derived from each color has its own special properties and characteristics associated with it.
For example, blue luxin is hard and solid whereas yellow luxin typically takes a liquid form.
Drafting luxin does come at a price. With every use of this magic, the drafter drains a bit of his or her life away.
As a result, drafters must use their magical prowess in moderation, taking care not to overexert themselves and risk losing their mind… or going “wight” if you prefer Lightbringer terminology.
Of course, these are just the fundamental basics of the magical system of the Lightbringer series. As you progress through this saga, Weeks continues to build on this foundation of magic, adding complex and intricate details but in an understandable, comprehensive manner.
The magical system was one of the primary reasons I found myself remaining loyal to this series simply because I loved the originality of the concept.
How do these fantasy elements compare to other fantasy series?
The concept of drawing power from light was an intriguing foundation for the fantasy elements of this series. Compared to other fantasy series that I have read in the past, I would say this is one of my more favorite fantasy principles to date.
I cannot recall any other fantasy series having anything that even resembles this magic system.
What adds even more to the excellence of the fantasy elements is that it gets better as the series progresses. With The Black Prism, a broad foundation was set for the ‘luxin’ magic system.
Each subsequent novel builds upon this foundation, digging deeper into the hidden powers and elaborate theories behind how this magic system operates.
In most fantasy novels, this added complexity would be overwhelming. I found this supplementary information on the magic system actually made my overall reading experience better.
How long does it take to read the Lightbringer series?
Each novel in the Lightbringer series is fairly lengthy.
The shortest novel of the bunch is the The Black Prism, which is 688 pages long (soft cover). A book of this length would take the average reader about 12 and a half hours to complete.
The longest novel of this Brent Weeks saga is The Burning White. The Burning White comes in at a total page count of 650 pages hard cover. A book of this length would take the average reader about 22 and a half hours from start to finish.
After crunching some numbers, I found that the average time it takes to read one of the Lightbringer novels is approximately 15 and a half hours. These numbers may sound a bit intimidating, but these books are easier to get through than they seem at first glance.
How easy of a read is the Lightbringer series?
The content is not overly sophisticated in its wordings. At times, there are longer monologues that delve deep into characterization and theme-oriented elements.
The most complicated of which to follow are typically the conversations that occur with the divine entities. Although these interactions are complicated to follow, Weeks does a solid job of conveying the general point of these conversations even if the reader is unable to comprehend every little detail.
The story is more structured along the lines of a continuous stream of character consciousness.
This makes the story much easier to follow because every action and every choice involves a line of reasoning and logic. This way, the happenings of the story seem calculated and precise rather than random and haphazard.
If you enjoy getting the most experiences out of your fantasy series, this series may be the one for you. I can say with certainty there is no shortage of adventures with the Lightbringer series.
How is the pacing of the Lightbringer series?
The pacing of the Lightbringer series is one of its stronger aspects.
Each chapter is not too long, breaking up the story into perfect little tidbits. These shorter chapters engage the reader far better than if Weeks had condensed the content into longer chapters.
How does the story structure affect the quality of the Lightbringer series?
For one, the story structure prevents the reader from growing bored with the character arc of any one protagonist.
With each chapter the reader is thrust into the mind of one individual character. These abridged chapters provide the reader with a snippet of a character along their treacherous expedition.
The chapters tend to alternate between the main characters in the Lightbringer series. Consequently, the combination of these shorter chapters and character perspective shifts provide a refreshing change of pace every few pages.
It would be much more challenging to properly engage with the characters had the chapters been longer.
Second, there is always a clear purpose to each chapter.
Since the chapters are so terse, there is typically one specific plot point Weeks tries to accomplish within each singular chapter.
With long-winded chapters, it is much easier to lose track of the purpose of the passage. The author may be trying to push multiple points on to the reader rather than one distinct objective when additional pages are involved.
Weeks ensures with this organizational system that potential confusion in the plot is minimized. He is able to convey the messages he wants to communicate to the reader simply by further categorizing and partitioning his content.
Third, the way the story is organized allows for a lot more cliffhangers.
Since the point of each chapter is purposefully planned out, Weeks makes sure to optimize the resolution of each section for maximal suspense.
There were several moments in my own reading where I had arranged to take a reading break, but I simply could not put the book down because of the dramatic conclusion of the chapter.
How is the characterization in the Lightbringer series?
Characterization was the primary reason I was able to stick with this series until the end. There were not too many characters I disliked in this series. I enjoyed the character arcs of the protagonists and even certain antagonists. Even minor characters like Cruxer earned my respect as the series went on.
The multiple first person perspectives the reader is exposed to did wonders to enhance the characterization of this series. Being able to witness the continual stream of consciousness from Gavin Guile, Kip, Teia, Karris and even Andross was an absolute treat.
The characters change significantly throughout this series.
Although there are stints where particular characters seem to plateau in their development, everything culminates in the end. Some change for the better, some change for the worse.
It is this curiosity of wondering who will end up where that drove my passion for the story. A few hundred pages in to this series, I slowly realized that I actually cared about what happened to the characters.
I developed an emotional attachment to Gavin Guile and Kip could not be shaken. Whenever these characters were riding the brink of destruction, the suspense of whether they would crack under the pressure was excruciating. But in a good way.
I wanted happy endings for everyone, Gavin Guile and Kip in particular. In the world of Chromeria, however, happy endings are hard to come by.
What are the predominant themes in the Lightbringer series?
One of the larger themes in the Lightbringer series is coming of age.
This theme is predominantly seen in the story arc of Kip. When Kip is first introduced, he is a self-deprecating teenager that is afraid to stand up to the neighborhood bully.
As the series progresses, Kip begins to shed these immature layers in the favor of becoming the leader everyone needs him to be.
There are many harsh trials that placate him along the way. These internal and external conflicts force Kip to abandon his weaker self, demonstrating that conflict is a crucial part of growing up.
Another significant theme in the Lightbringer series is faith versus doubt.
Religion frequents the Lightbringer series. There are individual characters that believe in religious power and others that dismiss religion as folly. This dual perspective analyzes the positives and negatives of each outlook.
Consequently, these religious prospects tie directly in with the theme of faith versus doubt.
Although there are divine beings present in the Lightbringer series, this theme is not solely limited to faith or doubt in the gods.
The theme of faith versus doubt applies applies to characters believing that the greater good will prevail. There are times when particular characters in this novel are pushed beyond their means. They suffer under seemingly inhumane circumstances.
These cruel trials make them question whether or not they should continue fighting in what seems to be a fruitless endeavor. Which fate these characters embrace is ultimately for you to find out.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of each individual novel?
Below are some of the strengths and weaknesses that I saw in each book in the Lightbringer series!
The Black Prism:
I considered The Black Prism, the debut novel of the series, a tremendous introductory novel to this series.
Due to the complexity of the magical system and it being the first volume of the saga, much of the novel was devoted to long expositions further creating the world of the Chromeria and protracted bouts of character analysis and introductions.
For these reasons, The Black Prism was certainly not my favorite volume of this series, but it accomplished its purpose in setting the stage for the latter anarchy in the following novels.
The Blinding Knife:
The Blinding Knife was certainly a step up from The Black Prism in that there were no introductory expositions hindering the plotline and the characters were finally able to start to take on their identities in this sequel.
It was in this novel that I felt drawn to the beloved protagonists of Kip and Gavin and even the conniving antagonist Andross. The quality character dialogue certainly rose this time around, skyrocketing the characterization passages from the surface level to astronomical heights.
I believe The Blinding Knife transformed the entire makeup of this series in a positive way and for that reason it is my favorite volume of the five book saga.
The Broken Eye:
The Broken Eye continued to show flashes of greatness demonstrated in The Blinding Knife in terms of unparalleled characterization and breathtaking plot twists.
My only critique of this novel is that some of the perceived “minor” characters came to the forefront of this novel whereas some of the “major” characters took a step back.
It could be argued that Teia was the primary protagonist of this volume of the series, replacing Gavin Guile and forcing him to the shadowy background.
Although it was refreshing to see a new character dynamic thrown into the mix, I would have liked to see more of the protagonists that I had grown to love in the first couple books.
The Blood Mirror:
The Blood Mirror was more of the same. Phenomenal characterization. Gut-wrenching plot twists.
And the best part of all… the ending!
I will NOT spoil it here for you but I must admit the conclusion of this novel had my head spinning for the next couple of days wondering how in the world I did not see it coming.
A cruel cliffhanger through and through, it had me hankering for months to get my hands on the epic finale of The Burning White.
The Burning White:
The Burning White, the final volume of the saga was nearly a thousand pages of nostalgic pleasure.
After being away from the series for so long, it was pure delight to re-familiarize myself with these characters once again and follow them along in their final journey.
There is additional emphasis placed on religious intervention and the immortal divinities in this novel as compared to the other volumes, which I felt deviated away from the true essence of the series.
Rather than concentrate on the gods, it is my opinion that Weeks should have shifted his focus toward incorporating the magical system of luxin into the plot as often as possible, since that is what made the series so original and different from all of the other fantasy novels out there.
That being said, I do still believe the ending was satisfactory. The pitting of some of my favorite characters against one another in a clash of ambitions was pure genius on the part of Weeks.
Sure the conclusion had its ups and downs, but overall I believe it served its purpose of bringing closure to the Lightbringer series, which is all a reader can really ask for.
Is the Lightbringer series worth the read?
Although each of these novels brings something new and exciting to the table individually, what makes this series so compelling as a whole is that it just pulls you right into this fictitious world and keeps you turning the pages with ease.
For instance, I remember staying up later than usual on my nightly reads when this series came along just because could not bring myself to sever the connection between myself and the Lightbringer escapades.
It was almost as if every chapter calculated to be left on a heart-stopping cliffhanger.
With all the radical events of this novel, I felt like I was right there watching, especially with the physical contests. The combination of luxin and combat was unmitigated literary brilliance and I brazenly applaud Weeks for crafting such flawless writing.
In short, I can definitely see myself re-reading this series in the future just to get pulled into this world one last time. Worth the read!
The Lightbringer Series Review Recap
Overall, I consider the Lightbringer series to be well worth the read.
With top notch characterization and plot twists with what seems like every other chapter, I cannot think of many other series that are more deserving of the time investment. And a time investment it is!
Each novel is at least six hundred pages, with The Burning White taking the average reader 22 and a half hours to read! So if you’re looking for a long fantasy series to accommodate your imaginative cravings, I would definitely recommend you give the Lightbringer series a shot.
To give this series a try, check out the latest prices for the 5-book set on Amazon here.
Click over to My Top Reading Sagas to comb through some other jaw-dropping fantasy novel series that I’ve read and reviewed.
“You have to be a little bad to make history.”
“Evil is simple and empty. Evil has no mysterious depths. We stare into a dark hole and fill it with our fears, but it is only a hole.”
“The world has only two kinds of people: villains and smiling villains.”
“To realize in an instant that you aren’t going to have the life you’d hoped for, but not waste a moment complaining, instead acting instantly to save what good you can? That’s more guts than I’d have had.”
“A man who’ll never risk being seen as an asshole is a man who doesn’t believe in anything.”
The Black Prism
BACK OF THE BOOK BLURBIn a world where magic is tightly controlled, the most powerful man in history must choose between his kingdom and his son in the first book in the epic NYT bestselling Lightbringer series. Guile is the Prism. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. Yet Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live.
The Blinding Knife
BACK OF THE BOOK BLURB
Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left—now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, an illegitimate son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies.
Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.
The Broken Eye
BACK OF THE BOOK BLURB
As the old gods awaken, the Chromeria is in a race to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe, Gavin Guile. But Gavin’s enslaved on a galley, and when he finally escapes, he finds himself in less than friendly hands. Without the ability to draft which has defined him . . .
Meanwhile, the Color Prince’s army continues its inexorable advance, having swallowed two of the seven satrapies, they now invade the Blood Forest. Andross Guile, thinking his son Gavin lost, tasks his two grandsons with stopping the advance. Kip and his psychopathic half-brother Zymun will compete for the ultimate prize: who will become the next Prism.
The Blood Mirror
BACK OF THE BOOK BLURB
Stripped of both magical and political power, the people he once ruled told he’s dead, and now imprisoned in his own magical dungeon, former Emperor Gavin Guile has no prospect of escape. But the world faces a calamity greater than the Seven Satrapies has ever seen… and only he can save it.
As the armies of the White King defeat the Chromeria and old gods are born anew, the fate of worlds will come down to one question: Who is the Lightbringer?
The Burning White
BACK OF THE BOOK BLURB
In the stunning conclusion to the epic, New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves.
Gavin Guile, once the most powerful man the world had ever seen, has been laid low. He’s lost his magic, and now he is on a suicide mission. Failure will condemn the woman he loves. Success will condemn his entire empire.
As the White King springs his great traps and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile must gather his forces, rally his allies, and scramble to return for one impossible final stand.
The long-awaited epic conclusion of Brent Weeks’s New York Times bestselling Lightbringer series.