Spellbound by Blake Charlton – Book Review
It’s been 10 years since Nicodemus was forced to flee Starhaven with Magister Shannon and the weakened goddess Boann. He’s spent time in the Heaven Tree Valley training with the kobolds and becoming a proficient skinwriter. Typhon has taken refuge in the city of Avel where he has corrupted much of the upper echelons of society with Deirdre unwillingly at his side and a creature from folktales, the Savanna Walker, bent to his will.
Spellbound begins not with catching up with the progress of Nicodemus Weal but rather introducing to a new major character in the form of Cleric Francesca DeVega. A trained spellwright who cast off her connection to the Wizardly order and instead pledged herself to the Clerics. She uses her proficiency in Numinous and Magnus to treat the injured and sick with the proficiency of a real-world surgeon or physician.
This gives Blake Charlton an enormous opportunity to showcase his medical knowledge gained in part from his current time being a student at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Some of the most captivating scenes, besides following Nicodemus as he runs through the shadows of the city as an Batman type character, were the sections that Francesca had to perform a medical procedure in a fantasy setting with only her magic and her understanding of the human body.
Beside Francesca we’re also introduced to Cyrus, a hierophant air warden of Avel and former lover to Francesca. A hierophant is a spellwright that instead of casting runes and texts in the Wizardly languages of Magnus and Numinous instead uses the hierophantic language. This language can only be written using the muscles in the hierophants heart and cast with their breath into cloth, which breaks down into air. This makes for an exceptionally slow build up of textual language and ingenuity a commonplace for the hierophant. In exchange a hierophant is able to fly using textually imbued cloth, even creating massive flying warships filled with warkite constructs, built to fly down and rip a combatant to shreds with razor sharp talons.
Spellbound excels at what many other sequel books fail at. That is avoiding the “sophomore slump” and instead benefitting from the base established in book one. The reader is able to dive directly into the midst of the War of Disjunction, following Nicodemus, Francesca, and Cyrus as they do their best to outmaneuver Typhon and his half formed dragon the Savanna Walker.
In Spellwright Nicodemus spent much of his time searching and yearning for the Emerald of Arahest, the missing piece of himself that would restore his fluency in language and make him the Halcyon of prophecy. During Spellbound we see Nicodemus mature past this desire and instead work to understand the abilities he possesses, despite any limitations his disability causes. At its heart it is a story of love and acceptance.
Much like Spellwright, Spellbound is a story that transcends the tropes that seemingly bind it and instead offers a fresh perspective on a tried and true method. It’s easy to fall in love with the characters and become immersed in a world of lycanthropes, demons, and deities. Blake Charlton has crafted a world filled with intrigue, mystery, and depth that shouldn’t be missed, especially for the detailed passages featuring Blake’s medical knowledge that are fascinating and wonderful to read.
In a world where one’s magical prowess is determined by one’s skill with words and ability to spell, Nicodemus is a wizardly apprentice afflicted by a curse that causes him to misspell magical texts. Now, the demon who cursed him has hatched a conspiracy to force Nicodemus to change language and ultimately use it to destroy all human life. As Nico tries to thwart the demon’s plan, he faces challenges from all sides. But his biggest challenge is his own disability, which causes him to create chaos wherever he goes. And the chaos surrounding Nico is affecting the world so profoundly that the kingdom to which he has fled to gather strength is on the brink of civil war, and he suspects that his closest allies—even Francesca, whom he loves more than life itself—may be subject to the demon’s vast powers. As Nico tries to forestall the apocalypse, he realizes that he doesn’t know if he can fully trust anyone, not even the woman he loves. And if he makes one wrong move, not only will his life be forfeit, he may end up destroying all mortal life as well.
Introducing new twists to the unique magical system of Spellwright, and exploring issues that will bring readers a deeper appreciation of a fascinating world, Spellbound is sure to please Blake Charlton’s fans and increase their number.