Sunday, March 14, 2010


by Blake Charlton

Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, the magical equivalent of dyslexia, which makes him misspell magic texts and shortchanges his spellcasting ability. An unknown enemy is searching for a powerful cacographer, and Nicodemus is in grave danger, even while the master that would protect him, Magister Agwu Shannon, is under suspicion of murder.

This fantasy is an excellent blend of old and new. I loved the inventiveness of magic itself - and gargoyles, constructs, and the like - being built out of text. This gave rise to numerous plays on words and new meanings for such things as "authors" and "grammarians" that were really fun to discover. This also yields some great one liners like: "The place was alive with yelling librarians" (174). Okay, that's completely out of context, but I love it. The use of magic, prophecy, and battle of good and evil put this well within the traditional fantasy genre even while playing with some of the details. Though sometimes given to long, conversational exposition explaining this complicated world and a drawn out ending that seemed more to set up the next book than wrap up loose ends, this debut shows a lot of talent, and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

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