Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Blake Charlton’s Spellwright is set in a world where the ability to understand the written word is the key to being a Spellwright – a person who can wield magic. Nicodemus Weal was once perceived to be the Halycon, a savior for the people, although not all Spellwrights believe in the prophesised Halycon, and others believe there to be an Anti-Halycon, who will work against the savior to destroy the world. However, all hopes of Nicodemus being the Halycon are dashed when it’s found that he’s a Cacographer, meaning that he jumbles up words and cannot properly read – and therefore cannot produce magic. When murders and suspicious start floating around Starhaven, the school where Nicodemus takes residence, he and his master, Agwu Shannon, are the prime suspects.

A new and refreshing, if confusing, magic system
Spellwright isn’t set in a world where there are wizards who wield vast amounts of arcane magic like many other fantasy epics of the past and present. The ability to write words and have them be transformed into power is one that I think everyone finds exciting – if only we had that ability. I praise Mr. Charlton for how inventive he was with his magic system, because it truly was refreshing. There were times, however, that I felt like I needed an English degree to understand some of the ways that the Spellwrights wielded their magic, but by the end of the book I understood nearly everything, so at least it is explained.

A hero you can’t help but root for
Nicodemus Weal is someone who’s at the center of all of our hearts: he’s an underdog who’s had to go through a lot in life and has been pushed around and frowned upon by his peers and teachers because of his disability. His mentor, Agwu Shannon, has helped him along throughout his life, but he still has a hard time because of his disability. He longs for the chance to be more than what he is now, and he will do nearly anything to get it.

Prophecies and legends galore
Normally, when I pick up a book and hear the word ‘prophecy’, I immediately put it down. They’re overdone, overused and far too typical for fantasy epics. However, I decided to give Spellwright a shot because of the magic system, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that while yes, there is a prophecy (multiple prophecies, in fact), it doesn’t play a huge role in this book until later on, which is something that I enjoyed. The prophecy itself is rather confusing, and I had to re-read the passage twice to figure out what exactly was going on, but when I figured it out it was rather breathtaking.

I also enjoy the fact that there are many Gods in this book. It seems like they existed as an afterthought, which again is something that I enjoy. They don’t play a huge rule, but they are important, which is what I think a God should be – not directly involved in someone’s life but they can play a very active role if you let them.

A lack of minor characters
This is only a small issue, but it is big enough for me to bring up. There were almost no minor characters in Spellwright, which was a bit of an issue for me. What I thought was originally going to be a minor character comes to play a huge part in the end of the book, and the other possible minor character has such an insignificant role that I can’t even really call her a minor character. In future installments I’m really hoping that there will be an influx of characters, because they’re sorely needed.

Why you should read this book?
This book has a new and interesting magic system, which is the biggest draw for me. The main character is likable, as are the other characters who get a point of view. The plot is interesting, although incredibly intricate and detailed, and it’s going to need a lot of fleshing out in the sequels. If you’re looking for a fresh, new type of fantasy epic, then this is a book for you to read. No English degree required.

About James Starke

James Starke
James is 21 years old and has been described as many things in life – pop music lover, book nerd, movie geek, cookie nommer, bookshelf filler, tortured writer, tech dork, television watcher, webcomic addict, fierce supermodel, crazy cat lady, musical fanatic, a loyal Hufflepuff, GLEEk to the Nth degree, pizza eater, future librarian, a horrible procrastinator, Poké-freak, eyeglass wearer, a lover of the arts, and a zombie unicorn that sparkles in the night (well, actually that might’ve just been once). He prefers to describe himself as “a man of odd enthusiasms.”

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8 comments

  1. So I realllllyyyyy like stories with many, many major and minor characters (like Wheel of Time, or A Song of Ice and Fire, or Harry Potter…that many)…overall would you say that the lack of minor characters would be a problem for someone like me, or is it really not that big of an issue? It’s the only thing holding me back from reading this book. Thanks!

    • I think that the story itself more than makes up for the lack of minor characters. There are, if I remember correctly, about four PoVs in the book and three or four minor characters that play decent roles. It’s not as much as WoT or aSoIaF (but then again, I don’t think anyone can have that many minor characters and still remain sane), but it’s definitely worth reading if the only thing holding you back is the lack of minor characters.

  2. Have you read the Vineart Wars series? I was drawn to that because the magic system was based on spellwine, though the books were not as interesting as I had hoped. When you write “incredibly intricate and detailed,” does that affect pacing? Can it be difficult to get through? Thanks a ton!

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