Blake Charlton is a fantasy author, whose debut book, Spellwright, will be published soon by Tor Books. Spellwright is the first book of The Spellwright Trilogy. The other books will be Spellbound and Disjunction.
Blake Charlton is also a medical student and he's working to establish a dual career in fiction and medicine. His website can be found here.
A REVIEW OF BLAKE CHARLTON'S SPELLWRIGHT
Spellwright has been praised a lot and there's been a lot of hype about it. I was especially interested in this book, because Robin Hobb, Daniel Abraham, Kate Elliott and Tad Williams have praised it. That's why it was interesting to read a PDF version of it before its publication.
I think it was refreshing to read classic and traditional fantasy, which contains lots of magic, because most modern fantasy books contain only a small amount of magic and lots of realism. I know that many readers are fed up with traditional fantasy books and they don't want to read traditional fantasy, because they think that traditional fantasy is trash. This is a shame, because some traditional fantasy books are fascinating and worth reading. Blake Charlton's Spellwright is one of these fascinating books.
Because Spellwright is a traditional fantasy adventure, it contains all the possible fantasy clichés from demons and wizards to gods and prophecies, but fortunately Blake Charlton uses these clichés skillfully and manages to avoid mistakes that other authors have made. Spellwright is a story of a young man's struggle to come to terms with who he is and what he can do with his magic. It's clearly inspired by Charlton's own struggle with dyslexia and his own love of fantasy – this adds depth to the book.
The magic system in Spellwright is refreshingly original and imaginative, because spellwriting is an ability to write spells and create things with magic. Using text and language as the basis of magic is a fascinating concept. It's interesting that spellwrights can create cognizant and living spells called textual constructs (gargoyles), which are able to talk. Magnus, Numinous and Language Prime, which are related to spellwriting, are thrilling concepts, but I won't write about them in this review, because I'd reveal too much information to readers. In Spellwright's world words can hurt people, because they can cause severe injuries and even death – this makes Spellwright an original fantasy book.
Spellwright reminds me of the books by Brandon Sanderson, because Blake Charlton has created an original and unique magic system. At this moment Sanderson and Charlton have been able to come up with truly original and fascinating magic systems (other fantasy authors have usually used less original magic systems).
Spellwright contains only a small amount of worldbuilding. Most of the events take place in Starhaven, which is an ancient city built by the Chthonic people and an academy for spellwrights. The characters and the magic system play an important role in this book. I have to admit that I would've liked to see more worldbuilding, but fortunately the character-driven prose worked well, so I didn't miss worldbuilding very much. It was actually good that Blake Charlton didn't waste time trying to describe all the possible things, because the reader has a chance to use his own imagination when he reads the book.
The main character, Nicodemus Weal, is a young man who was once believed to be the hero of a prophecy. He loves knightly romances and dreams about heroic deeds. What makes Nicodemus an interesting character is that he's a wizard with a severe disability, which causes him to misspell all the complex spells – he's a cacographer who can handle only simple spells. It's also very interesting that Nicodemus isn't the only character who has a disability, because other characters have also disabilities. This is very refreshing, because too many fantasy characters are perfect and they don't have any disabilities. A flawed hero is a much more interesting character than a perfect hero, who doesn't have any disabilities and problems.
Spellwright moves along quite fast and the prose is easy to read. Towards the end the events become more interesting and many fascinating things are revealed to the reader. I especially enjoyed reading about the history of the world.
I think it's great that Spellwright contains a good map of the world. The map is excellent and all the places are marked well – it's a textbook example of a perfect map.
Because there's been a lot of hype about Spellwright, it's possible that some readers may feel uneasy about reading Spellwright. From an experienced fantasy reader's point of view Spellwright may not be a perfect book, because many experienced readers are used to reading more complex and different kind of fantasy. Although some readers may feel this way, I'm sure that everybody who reads this book will most likely say that it's excellent entertainment, because that's what it is – entertainment with a big E.
I think I have to mention that this book must not be compared to epic fantasy series like George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen, because it's totally different from these series. The unique magic system makes this book special, because Blake Charlton uses almost mathematical accuracy when he writes about spellwriting.
Many readers will probably want to know if Spellwright is worth reading. I can say that it's definitely worth reading, because it's an interesting and solid debut book. It's a good old-fashioned fantasy adventure and the unique magic system will be of interest to many readers. Don't be afraid to read this book, because it's an enjoyable and entertaining fantasy book.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book, Spellbound, because this book was a good start. I'm sure that the next book will be interesting, because the story has just begun.