Spellwright by Blake Charlton – Book Review
Forming magical sentences in your muscles and casting them out to a variety of effects. Animated gargoyles and golems and strange textual dragons that plague a city while Gods and Demons fight over the prophesized hero of the land. Spellwright at first glance is a story with some of the hallmarks of fantasy, what others may call stereotypical cliché’s. However it doesn’t take long for those “stereotypes” to be turned on their head and delivered in a thoughtful and original manner that is captivating while still retaining the touch of familiarity.
Spellwright is a story about Nicodemus Weal, a spellwright of immense talent studying at one of the premier schools for linguistic spells and text. In fact his talent is so great he was thought to be the Halcyon, the prophesized hero that will lead the spellwrights in the War of Disjunction, a massive battle foretold to be fought against ancient demons as they fight to destroy civilization. Unfortunately for Nicodemus he was determined to not be the savior due to a distinct disability known as cacography. In short, cacographic children misspell magical text to the point of illegibility, at which point the spell loses cohesion and could crumble, detonate, or any number of possible consequences. Since then Nicodemus has come to terms with his disability and works diligently with his mentor Professor Shannon to show a culture that looks down on him because of his disability that he’s still useful.
But all of that changes as a mysterious figure cloaked in white arrives at Starhaven, the spellwright school, intent on finding a certain cacographic boy to pursue his own malicious plans.
Meanwhile, just because Nicodemus thought he was done with prophecy does not mean its shadow doesn’t still loom over his head. Druids have come looking specifically for Nicodemus, believing he is the one of their prophecy, the Peregrine. They are some of the few that believe the War of Disjunction is not only coming, it’s very nearly upon them.
Blake Charlton has managed to craft a unique world that breathes a fresh and rejuvenating breath into the staples of the fantasy genre. Whether it’s talk of tertiary or quarternary cognition being imbued into constructs such as gargoyles or recognizing a spellwright based on the prose style of the texts and spells they’re casting, Charlton uses original language himself to describe the effects of spells most fans of fantasy are used to.
Nicodemus is one of my favorite characters in current series as his is a story of one who rises above their limitations instead of letting them define who he is as a person without ignoring the very real presence of those limitations. By no means is Nicodemus the cookie-cutter prophesized hero; instead he is a flawed, imperfect real person that is easy to connect with on a multitude of levels.
In particular I found his relationship with his mentor, and father figure, Magister Shannon to be not only compelling but also inspiring. In early chapters he is often following the Magister’s orders and every word, while by the end he has grown into a strong and capable individual of his own right that is able to make difficult decisions for himself, despite protests from others close to him.
By book’s end the reader is treated to the knowledge that what is considered irrefutable prophecy is in fact only the tip of a conspiracy that has roots stretching deep across both time and nations.
The war against demons is fast approaching. With the imminent arrival of the Halcyon the Storm Petrel is set to emerge as well, a counterpoint to the Halcyon that acts as an agent of change and discord.
The only way to find out what will happen is to pick up Spellbound and continue the story of Nicodemus Weal as he trains to be a force to oppose demonkind, regardless of the consequences.
Nicodemus is a young, gifted wizard with a problem. Magic in his world requires the caster to create spells by writing out the text . . . but he has always been dyslexic, and thus has trouble casting even the simplest of spells. And his misspells could prove dangerous, even deadly, should he make a mistake in an important incantation.
Yet he has always felt that he is destined to be something more than a failed wizard. When a powerful, ancient evil begins a campaign of murder and disruption, Nicodemus starts to have disturbing dreams that lead him to believe that his misspelling could be the result of a curse. But before he can discover the truth about himself, he is attacked by an evil which has already claimed the lives of fellow wizards and has cast suspicion on his mentor. He must flee for his own life if he’s to find the true villain.
But more is at stake than his abilities. For the evil that has awakened is a power so dread and vast that if unleashed it will destroy Nicodemus… and the world.