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Spellwright (The Spellwright Trilogy) Hardcover – March 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Charlton sets his novel in a fictional world where words have power, and spellwrights (the wizards of this world) can use magical languages to change their environment and even imbue inanimate matter with life and thought. In the world, he sets his main character, Nicodemus, a boy once thought to be a prophesied savior until it was discovered that he is plagued by a condition familiar to Charlton and one that is utterly devastating for magic based on the written languages - dyslexia (called "cacography" in the novel). However, there is more than meets the eye regarding his condition, and as other forces converge on his home (the academy of Starhaven), Nicodemus uncovers truths about himself and the rest of the world that will change his life and that of others forever.
As mentioned above, this is Charlton's first novel, and it shows at times. The beginning of the book has some issues with pacing and structure - chapters end a little awkwardly, the characterization varies a bit in quality, events don't entirely seem to flow. It's not bad, but it is noticeable. That said, the book noticeably improves in quality as you continue reading it, until by the end of the book the prose and characters are a match for more established fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson (who shares a similar style of prose in his "Mistborn" trilogy).
Nonetheless, it is a solid read, and a particularly accessible one - I would especially recommend it to those looking for fantasy novels for first-time fantasy readers, young adults (Charlton's book does not have profanity or any real sexual content), or both. While it is not the equal of some of the fantasy "greats" (like George RR Martin, or Robert Jordan), it is a good fantasy novel, and well-worth your purchase.
Charlton's magic system shows what magic there is in words, literally. The characters in this novel use words strung together in sentences to actually physically become the magic spell or the magic weapon. Any spelling which is incorrect within the sentence itself will negate the spell and render it useless. That is a huge problem for Nicodemus Weal since he was born a cacographer, someone who misspells words. But is this the way Nicodemus was meant to be or does he have this handicap because of what someone did to him in his childhood? This is the story of a young man who may be the Halcyon figure long awaited to lead the battle in the War of Disjunction. Or, because of his misspelling, he may be the Storm Petrel who was sent to cause chaos and confusion leading to demons returning to power.
The information about this author reveals that he suffers with severe dyslexia. This problem has had a major impact on his life and is reflected vividly in this book. The character Nicodemus is described as cacographic. Within the book Charlton calls that a handicap, retardation. He took quite a chance to use those words and I must admit to being somewhat surprised when I first came upon them. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge presented in reading this book. Sometimes the prose was a little confusing and I found myself having to read over a passage to be sure I understood what was going on. That is definitely a point in the author's favor from me. There are, however, some points not in his favor which made me chose to assign this book a 4 star rating instead of 5 stars.
**I would have liked for Charlton to have given me more information about this world he had created a little sooner. Just small reveals would have helped a lot. As it is, please don't give up on the book until you have read at least through pages 80 -110. That is where most of the explanations are regarding this fantasy world and where I became completely comfortable with what was happening.
**I would have liked for Nicodemus to have been more fully fleshed out as a character. This was a 25 year old man and yet he felt like a young boy to me. He is concentrating so completely on his cacopgaphy that it almost excludes all other aspects of his personality. Only within the last pages of the book did I see growth in him. And even then I didn't actually see that growth, I was told by other characters that Nicodemus had grown. In future books this character really does need to be more well rounded.
I enjoyed this wonderful, innovative book and highly recommend it to others. This is the first in a trilogy and I must say Charlton has given himself a wide area in which to set the next adventures.
Top international reviews
The story quickly drew me in, I'm a fan of the genre, but at more than one point I considered give up. It lurches from clichéd repetition of genre classics, to stunning originality. Bear in mind that this is the author's first book however and the tired re-treading of some of the themes becomes forgivable, especially when you are then rewarded with well described spell casting or fight scenes.
The characters are strong, if a little stereotyped, and likeable, however the author doesn't always do enough to bring his readership along with him. The plot is complicated, he is after all trying to explain a thousand years of back-story and scheming, but the "reveal" sections didn't always seem to be as enlightening as desired.
The pace of the story unfortunately follows a typical pattern. Slow start, and rushed ending, again a sign of a novice author, the worst crime in this regard is the omission of almost any detail for the trials at the end, which seems to have been added as a footnote just when I was looking forward to a good piece of spell casting / fighting! Hopefully this can be reviewed in the sequel, for surely there must be one.
Despite my criticisms, I appreciate the bravery of the author, and his successes are great, and with the Kindle version of this book being free, I can't complain.
Blake I thank you for the many distracted hours reading your story, and eagerly await the sequel (which I'll be happy to pay for!).
I found also that the book itself was well published and flowed without the major errors that are so distracting and off-putting in some of the self published books by other " "writers" currently available
I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.
This is a great book to get me started again. It is very well written with an interesting and intelligent take on spell casting, magic, etc. The characters are believable and more importantly, likeable. The plot, though a little complicated on the first read, was enough to keep you going. I love the way Blake has created a very enticing world of fantasy and strong characters that kept me reading until the end.
I got very absorbed by this book and was sad to finish it.
The story takes a little while to really get going and builds up towards the latter half of the book. I would say that this book needs a lot more concentration that the average "thud and Blunder" yarn and is none the worse for that.
Personally I enjoyed it but I am not completely sure that I will buy the sequel.
The story although not unique keeps you gripped to the very end. The most impressive thing about this book is the magical system that he has created. It is the most unique system since Trudi Canavans Black Magician work.
The book is not heavy reading making it easy to pick up whenever the need takes you but I truly believe readers who enjoy magical worlds will love this book as much as I did.
I look forward to the next book and the continuation of the story......
On the downsides, which is why i wish i could give it 4.5 stars, is the magic system. I know what I said earlier, but it is quite complex, I wish it had some sort of glossary to help with it.
A truly recommended read.
It is great. rolls along really well and develops a a decent pace with twists to keep you interested. I don't normally read this type of science fiction, but it has opened my eyes and I want more.
Good first novel - The author maintained a good pace throught the book but the end could have been much better developed. I see a series coming down the tracks. And i will buy the next one. Hopefully the author can sustain the story line through a few books. Without spoiling the plot the end was reasonably easy to see ahead of time.
Engaging, and original - a rarity these days!
I would recommend it
Loved it from beginning to end and can't wait for the next one to come out!