Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Nicodemus Weal is the wizard known as a spellwright on the cover and Spellwright's main character. He is tall with black hair, olive skin, and green eyes. He may or may not have a role in a prophecy upon which the fate of the world depends. He is also a cacographer, which means that he misspells text simply by touching it. This concept reflects the author's struggles with dyslexia, and it also makes for an interesting thematic element to this fantasy tale.

Nicodemus's teacher at the academy of Starhaven is Magister Agwu Shannon, the famous linguist and Grand Wizard. He has white dreadlocks, a short beard, and mustache. Pure white eyes, although he is blind, so he only sees the world through magic.

The book starts with the murder of a Magister. Shannon, who was a rival with the Magister, is a prime suspect, and consequently, so is Nicodemus. Also, there is a convocation going on, so sentinels have arrived as well as druids. A mysterious creature is in the area, and ultimately, Nicodemus has to flee Starhaven.

The overarching conflict is the War of Disjunction. The evil god Los and his minions are prophesied to lead the forces of the Pandemonium against humanity. Because of the war, the underlying basis of the novel is an archetypal conflict between good and evil. Still, the forefront is on the magic system, Nicodemus, and intricacies of the plot.

I perceived a lot of hype surrounding Spellwright. I saw it in stores. I saw lots of reviews. I think it generated publicity from being published by Tor, the irony and interest of a dyslexic novelist, and the fact that Blake Charlton has a personable online presence. 

When I read the book, it often surprised and interested me, but also, I had mixed feelings about it. It kept feeling like something was about to click with the story. For Spellwright to get started to where the blurb ends took more than half of it. Although the chapters are short, I found myself wishing it were faster paced and more narrative driven. Yet there were definitely moments of good action.

I like the fundamentals. The magic system is intriguing, vivid, and amusing. The characters are cool, despite some of the minor ones being underdeveloped. I think Nicodemus is a great fantasy name. I liked the descriptions, for example how Shannon has silver dreadlocks and white eyes, and Deirdre is a druid with a greatsword, and the demon Typhoneus. The prophecy and Imperials and the war of the Disjunction add depth to the plot. I also like how Nicodemus reads knightly romances.

All in all, Spellwright is a solid first effort and I will be interested in reading where it goes in the sequel Spellbound.

1 comment:

Clifton Hill said...

I thought it was a great book, too. It had its problems, but was a great first outing by Charlton and I look forward to the sequel. I wrote a review on my blog as well, you can check it out...uh, somewhere here:

My least favorite part was the change in the prose's tempo about midway through when a lot of the strong characterization went out the window to move the plot along at a faster pace. But, then, writing books is no easy feat and my hat is off to the man for this first endeavor. I wants improvement in the sequels...have no doubt.