Author: Blake Charlton
Genre: High Fantasy
Series: Spellwright (Book #3)
Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 480 Pages
ISBN-10: 076531729X (Tor/Macmillan)
ISBN-13: 978-0765317292 (Tor/Macmillan)
Reviewed by: Kristie
Leandra Weal has a bad habit of getting herself in dangerous situations.
While hunting neodemons in her role as Warden of Ixos, Leandra obtains a prophetic spell that provides a glimpse one day into her future. She discovers that she is doomed to murder someone she loves, soon, but not who. That’s a pretty big problem for a woman who has a shark god for a lover, a hostile empress for an aunt, a rogue misspelling wizard for a father, and a mother who–especially when arguing with her daughter–can be a real dragon.
Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. Everywhere she turns, Leandra finds herself amid intrigue and conflict. It seems her bad habit for getting into dangerous situations is turning into a full blown addiction.
As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities–if they don’t kill each other first.
Spellbreaker is the long awaited sequel to Spellbound, which was listed by Kirkus Reviews among the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011. This final installment of the Spellwright Trilogystands alone as a complete story; however, fans of the series will find in it answers to the questions raised by the previous books about Leandra’s parents, Nicodemus Weal and Francesca DeVega.
Quick & Dirty: High fantasy novel with a complicated magic/divinity system that took me a long time to comprehend but after that it was a moving story that will stick with me.
Opening Sentence: To test a spell that predicts the future, try to murder the man selling it; if you can, it can’t.
Spellbreaker is a high fantasy novel that hooked me in with the first paragraph. I liked how ruthless Leandra was when she went up against a smuggler. Then the story waned a bit for more when it started to describe the neodemons, demons and divinities. Spellbreaker is tied into the two previous books but you could read this as a standalone like I did. I was unfamiliar with the story, I never once felt lost with past events, but I think having prior knowledge would have more impact with events that play out. Everyone in this story has their own motivations and secrets, when your world might be ending not everyone is on the same page.
Leandra is the daughter of Nicodemus Weal and Francesca DeVega. If you’ve read the previous stories then you already know who they are. Leandra is thirty-three years old so I’m guessing that some time has passed from the previous book to this one. Leandra has had a very difficult childhood. She has dealt with a deadly disease all of her life that not even her draconic mother can heal. Leandra is the Warden of Ixos and as such she must protect her citizens from Neodemons. She goes to great lengths to make sure her people are protected. When she buys a spell to see forward into the future she is surprised by all the different futures before her but they all have something in common: she will die, someone she loves will die by her hand, or if she ignores those two everyone around her will die.
Nicodemus is hunting down the River Thief and when he finally catches up with her, he unveils a shocking secret that ties with his daughter Leandra. As a cacographer, Nico destroys spells with his misspellings. His touch is even more dangerous to human skin. Nico is caught within the family feud between is wife and his daughter. He tries to bring them back together but they both are strong-willed and stubborn. He also unwittingly finds himself in a battle with his half-sister.
Francesca has her own talent in prophecy and when she sees that her daughter may kill her it doesn’t stop her from confronting her daughter. Francesca conflicted about her feelings with Leandra. She knows she could have been a better mother. The world is on the brink of war and she wants to be able to gain her relationship with her daughter before one of them dies.
One thing I really liked about this story was the reveal of secrets. The secrets hit when I thought I knew the story but then I realized I didn’t. Each character keeps secrets from each other and from the reader so I had no idea how crazy and secretive they were. Also, the story skips between the three main characters third person point of views so when something was revealed, it kept me hooked because I wanted to know how the other characters would take that news plus I had to know more from the character who revealed said information when their perspective came back around. Another thing, this novel had quite a bit of humor to it. I really enjoyed the quips being thrown during conversations. I got quite a laugh at times.
The only thing that was really confusing for me was the magical system. Since I was new to the series, I didn’t really have a concept of it. I think what really got me was I never quite understood the difference between the neodemons and divinities because people created divinities through prayer but sometimes they were neodemons. My guess is that neodemons were uncontrolled while the divinities were controlled by the prayers and magical system. If I am wrong, I apologize to the author for being a dummy.
Spellbreaker does have a message about the difference/unfairness of how people are perceived and treated. The way the story wraps up was satisfying and a bit heartbreaking. I would definitely recommend this novel for fans of high fantasy to check out.
“No one can hate you as much as you can hate yourself because no one knows you as well as you know yourself,” she said to her party. “In fact, loathing of similarities is underestimated in general. Think of all the attention we give to differences. We act as if all prejudice or injustice or war is caused by hating things or people who are different from us. I hate that woman because she wears different clothes. Or we fought that war becauase they worship different gods. We always say that sort of thing. We pretend that we could enter a golden age of peace if we could learn not to distrust foreign things and people.”
“We couldn’t?” Ellen asked, deadpan. The twins, as usual, were silent.
“No, the distrust of difference isn’t everything,” Francesca continued, warming to her argument. “Who can upset you more than someone who is similar to you?”
“But Magistra, you upset me all the time.”
“Exactly my point. I chose you as a student because you reminded me of myself when I was younger.”
“I find that very upsetting.”
“You see!” Francesca said, playing up her passionate voice against Ellen’s flatness.
“Magistra, I am astounded by your rhetoric.”
“What kind of hatred is worse than self-hatred?”
“Hatred of menstrual cramps?”
“Isn’t that usually a punch line from one of my jokes?”
“That’s why I thought it’d make you laugh. But given your present argument, maybe I should have guessed you’d dislike your own punch lines more that anyone else’s.”
“Well, regardless, isn’t that a form of self-hatred? Are you not hating your own uterus at that moment?”
“It is such a surprise,” Ellen said in a tone that indicated that it was anything but, “to find that you have turned my attempt at humor into substance for your argument.”
FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Spellbreaker. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.