Saturday, December 29, 2018

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Rating: WARTY!

I picked up the sequel to this without realizing it was a sequel - once again Big Publishing™ failed to disclose on the front cover that it was volume two of a trilogy. Despite this dishonesty, I started reading it and enjoyed the opening chapter, so I decided to get the previous volume - this volume - from the library and read that one first. I ended up enjoying it sufficiently to want to go back to volume two and continue reading that, although the entire story was rather ponderous and overall left a bad taste.

In this volume we're introduced to Nicodemus who is the usual hobbled wizard in this kind of story. In his case though it has a twist in that spells (for reasons which went unexplained) are wrought in the muscles of the body and involve words which then migrate to the hands where they can be used. Bizarre, yes, but that's how it was. So Nicodemus's problem was that he was dyslexic, and therefore could not cast spells reliably - and sometimes cast them dangerously. He was the Seamus Finnigan of this story. Harry Potter's Finnigan may well have been named after Seamus Finnegan, an Irish playwright, but Nicodemus was initially interesting to me because of this twist.

As is the case in most every wizarding story, Nicodemus was the savior of the world because of his 'defective' condition. He'd been rendered this way because some other wizard was sucking the magic out of him. Albus Dumbledore - er, the aging wizard - who has taken a special interest in Harry - er Nicodemus - of course keeps him in the dark, so when all hell breaks loose, Nicodemus doesn't have a clue and has to figure it out himself with the aid of his male and female companions, one of whom is a powerful wizard herself, and just like in Harry Potter, friends are being murdered, and Nicodemus has to go on the run. Unlike with the Rowling stories, this all happens in book one.

here's something I've warned about before. The problem with pronouncing the word 'shone' as 'shown' instead of pronouncing it like you'd pronounce 'one' ('shonn'), as many Americans do, is that sometimes it bites back. On one page, I believe in this volume, but perhaps in volume one, I read, "A wall of silvery text shown down from the other side of the door..." Clearly this was intended to be 'shone down'. Not 'shown', but when pronounced incompetently, leads to a different word and a different meaning! Beware the language, fellow writers! Rein it in before it rains on you (or at least that's what it will tell you is falling on your back...).

So apart from the dyslexia which I found interesting, there really was nothing new here that we haven't seen before. I was able to read all of this and get back to volume two, but things continued to go downhill, only more rapidly. On that basis, I'm going to rate this negatively because it really didn't live up to its potential, it was boring in parts and brought to the table very little that was fresh. I cannot commend it, especially in light of how volume two went.