Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Spellbreaker

Title: Spellbreaker
Author: Blake Charlton
Pages: 480
ISBN: 9780765317292
Series: Spellwright #3
Publisher: Tor
Published: 23 August 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

Leandra Weal has a bad habit of getting herself in dangerous situations.

While hunting neodemons in her role as Warden of Ixos, Leandra obtains a prophetic spell that provides a glimpse one day into her future. She discovers that she is doomed to murder someone she loves, soon, but not who.

Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. Everywhere she turns, Leandra finds herself amid conflict.

As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family – her misspelling wizard father Nicodemus Weal and dragon-of-a-mother Francesca DeVega – must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities–if they don't kill each other first.

Words have power. Nowhere is it more important than in the world of Spellbreaker where the truly unique magic system revolves around language, prose and syntax and the fluidity of the magical language itself. Spellbreaker kicks off with one hell of an opening line that sets the stage for a narrative that just keeps growing in scope and intrigue:

"To test a spell that predicts the future, try to murder the man selling it; if you can, it can’t. That, at least, was Leandra’s rationale for poisoning the smuggler’s blackrice liqueur."

Set well after the events of Spellwright and Spellbound, the first two novels in the Spellwright trilogy, the story focuses around Nicodemus Weal, his wife Francesca and their daughter Leandra as they try to ward off the coming of The Disjuntion, a prophesied demonic war that would bring about the destruction of all human language. Their dysfunctional relationship provides a painfully intimate glimpse into their internal struggles as they each try to come to terms with their own unique nature and the consequences of the divergent, often conflicting paths they take to try to make the world they live in a better place. Paradoxically it is their love for each other that cause them the most pain.

"Every soul existed and acted within the eternal and pressing instant of now, and then—to make existence bearable—wrote a story to connect past, present, and future."

While Spellbreaker is the third novel in the Spellwright trilogy it also acts as a a good entry point for new readers. There are enough flashbacks and explanations of previous events to quickly clue in new readers although the backstory can be quite baffling at first. I'd definitely recommend starting with Spellwright if you are interest in getting a more comprehensive look at the truly stunning magic system.

As the story progresses the conflict escalates both in a political and personal sense and there are lots of surprising revelations along the way. The ending is touching and unexpected. Sometimes prophecy doesn't need to turn out the way we expect it to...

The most remarkable thing about the entire Spellwright trilogy is the fact that Blake Charlton not only overcame his struggle with dyslexia, but that he managed to use it as the cornerstone for creating an epic fantasy series filled with vibrant, complex characters living in a world shaped by the wonder and power of language. (And who doesn't love a good pun!)

The Verdict:
Spellbreaker is a compelling read with a unique magic system, captivating characters, impeccable worldbuilding and the ability to surprise you with its emotional impact and insight into the human condition. You can read this as a standalone novel, but I'd highly suggest you pick up the entire trilogy. It's magic!

The Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Thanks to Desirae from Tor for providing the review copy.

Other sites participating in the Spellbreaker Blog Tour:

Fantasy Book Critic
The Arched Doorway
Dark Faerie Tales

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