Brent Weeks is one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed his Night Angel Series but I love his latest series, The Lightbringer Books. I read a lot of fantasy which means there are lots of magical systems being explained and created. But in the Lightbringer books, starting with The Black Prism, Brent introduces a form of magic unique to any other book I've read. It takes a bit or reading before the reader understands what the magic can do and what a Prism is. Then he takes that unique magic and twines it into social standings, wealth, reasons for war and even the personalities of the people using it. The magic is based on colors and just to give you a hint, if you're a Green, you're pretty wild and emotional. Weeks taught me not to fear inventing something beyond any preconceived ideas of what magic can be. If you're looking for a unique, fantasy world and an entirely new way to use magic, you can learn a lot as a writer from reading Brent Weeks.
Another thing Brent Weeks does really well is create heroes who do bad things for the greater good. Really, really bad things. Sometimes the reader is quite unsure of which character is the hero. He weaves secrets and springs betrayals that hurt as if it was personal. He's not George RR Martin, but Weeks has no trouble putting his characters in great jeopardy, burdening them with horrific losses and even sacrificing them. How can a fantasy writer not learn from such an author?
Lesson: Don't be afraid to create unique magic and strange worlds. Make the magic an integral part of the society. Put the main characters in major difficulties and make sure they suffer.
Are you familiar with Brent Weeks? Can you think of the oddest magic you're read about and wish you'd created? Can a writer make their characters suffer too much?