Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Spellwright, by Blake Charlton

I just finished reading the debut novel, Spellwright by Blake Charlton and I'm taking a moment to review it. I never do, but this time I WILL. As Patrick Hester said on the Functional Nerds, "Reviewing a book is hard." And whether he meant it or not is debatable, but I know that it takes time that could otherwise go to something else. So in that fashion, I will agree.

As a first novel it is a solid home run. The prose starts strong, with great characterization and flow. The plot unveils at a good pace and there is some great intrigue between competing factions (in which I would have liked to see more). The magic, as you have no doubt already heard, is different and interesting.

As the novel progresses, the magical languages broaden a bit much for my taste, in a way cheapening what came earlier. I think more focus on a few would have been a stronger choice.

There is a great reveal towards the end, in which I was certain--despite the number of remaining pages--was the ending. It was too perfect of a stopping place though and for whatever reason the book continued to build for events that will probably occur in the sequel. It doesn't kill the story, but it does weaken the impact and the great setup. (If you want to know which reveal I mean, it has to do with the Beastiary--there, now you'll know when you get there.)

If I was to draw a line-chart for the quality of the story as it progressed, I would start high for almost half of the book before a dip which continues till about two-thirds with intermittent turbulence. Then there are some extreme dives, turbo boosts--through what could have been interesting parts of the story--then a sharp rise back up to finish at a decent ascent.

I should note that a new author is often inconsistent in their story telling. It takes quite a while--as you can imagine--to master your prose, story and characters. So, with that in mind, he does an outstanding job. As examples: Sanderson's first attempt, Feist's, Eddings', Farland's, and probably many more all had the same issue (more or less). I know of few, like Rowling, that manage to maintain consistency throughout. It's all about practice, as is everything in life. Even a master like Jordan was hit with much criticism as his epic The Wheel of Time became mired within itself about half way through the series.

Overall, I give it high marks as a first endeavor by a very busy man and will be checking out the upcoming sequel Spellbound. Blake Charlton, if you don't know, is also a medical student and hopefully one day he will extemporize a cure for cancer with Language Prime fluency (don't know what I mean? Read the book). He's an interesting, easy to talk to fellow and you can follow him on twitter if you are so inclined.

I could talk more about the book, but I have to get back to my own writing. What did you think?


  1. Writing book reviews is hard. feel free to quote me- oh, already did. FINE! GAWD!

    Book good so far. Not finished yet. Other distractions mounting. May never finish at rate I'm going.


  2. :-)

    I hear ya, thought I'd never finish the last bit. I hit the big reveal last week some time, and could only get through little bits and pieces at a time. Really dragged it out, but you use what time you have.


Thanks for reading, now tell me what you think.