Author: Blake Charlton Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Tor Books Date Published: March 2, 2010
Imagine a world in which you could peel written words off a page and make them physically real. You might pick your teeth with a sentence fragment, protect yourself with defensive paragraphs, or thrust a sharply-worded sentence at an enemy’s throat.
Such a world is home to Nicodemus Weal, an apprentice at the wizardly academy of Starhaven. Because of how fast he can forge the magical runes that create spells, Nicodemus was thought to be the Halcyon, a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent an event called the War of Disjunction, which would destroy all human language. There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn’t spell.
Runes must be placed in the correct order to create a spell. Deviation results in a “misspell”—a flawed text that behaves in an erratic, sometimes lethal, manner. And Nicodemus has a disability, called cacography, that causes him to misspell texts simply by touching them.
Now twenty-five, Nicodemus lives in the aftermath of failing to fulfill prophecy. He finds solace only in reading knightly romances and in the teachings of Magister Shannon, an old blind wizard who’s left academic politics to care for Starhaven’s disabled students.
But when a powerful wizard is murdered with a misspell, Shannon and Nicodemus becomes the primary suspects. Proving their innocence becomes harder when the murderer begins killing male cacographers one by one…and all evidence suggests that Nicodemus will be next. Hunted by both investigators and a hidden killer, Shannon and Nicodemus must race to discover the truth about the murders, the nature of magic, and themselves.
Why I read this Book:
This book had an amazing cover and had been popping up on my radar through various book blogs that I follow. It was easily one of my most anticipated reads for this year, falling directly in sync with my love of high fantasy.
I absolutely 100% wanted to love this story, but merely found myself liking it. Had you given this to my sixteen year old self, she would have been all gaga drool over this. However, after having being exposed to the darker grittier high fantasy of George RR Martin, I now know that the good guys don’t always win, and have a get out of jail free card.
This book has some really interesting gun on the mantle set ups for act two. It was a very intriguing magic focus, and system. I like the idea of spellwriting and cacophony. The set up was very well done and very rich in the telling.
The characters however, felt a little flat to me. I still don’t feel absolutely connected to Nico. I felt him to be a little flat, a little too good, and a little too naive. He is obviously struggling with his own ability to cast spells, but to me it didn’t go as in depth emotionally connected to the conflict. I want to love Nico, but I don’t yet, I merely like him.
It is also infuriating having Shanon give him all of the answers. I understand having a mentor, but I would greatly appreciate seeing Nico have to stand on his own two feet and actually make his own decisions. I think I am looking for Nico to not be perfect. To be human, with shades of gray. To feel more of his internal conflict and struggles.
The most interesting part of the book for me was at the end, when he is learning war games. He has several weeks of training treated like a movie montage a la novel style. And these less than nice war games to me sounded like perhaps the most appealing part.
The biggest problem I had with this novel were the buttons it pushed for me. I am no longer the person who wants to see the good guy win no matter what. I do want to see the good guy win, but I also want it to be a realistic struggle. Having a mentor to continuously bail you out and do your thinking, does not appeal to me. I am also not a fan, of a three day conflict. The idea that all of that went down in such a short amount of time, with very little sleep seems very unrealistic to me. The amount of things that happened and the lack of sleep that must have ensued leave me to believe that someone should have made a mistake. Not been as sharp as they need to be. But everything worked out thus far.
I will of course continue to read this series as I do still have rather high hopes. I can only hope that those guns on the mantle live up to the expectations I have placed upon them.
Rating: 6/10 (verging on a 7 for the awesome magic system)