By: Blake Charlton
Published by: Tor/Forge
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1728-5

5 Stars

I was blown away by Blake Charlton’s debut novel in his trilogy, Spellwright. I was expecting that the second book, Spellbound, would be equally as good, but it’s not–it’s even better! Spellbound is set ten years after the events in Spellwright. Nicodemus Weal is still pursuing the demon Typhon, because he needs to get the Emerald of Aarahest that Typhon has. It contains a part of his soul and a cure to his cacography, or inability to do certain spells. Without the Emerald, Nicodemus cannot learn spells in other magical languages. With it, he can become the Halycon, the prophesied savior of magical language; without it, he is the Storm Petrel, the prophesied destroyer of magical language. Will Nicodemus defeat Typhon and recover the Emerald of Aarahest, or is he doomed to be the Storm Petrel?

Francesca DeVega, a healer/cleric in the city of Avel, becomes even more important to the trilogy in Spellbound. Her storyline, in fact, is the first one taken up in the novel. While she is operating on a patient, using her magical healing sentences, she does something wrong, and her patient–Dierdre–dies, despite Francesca’s best attempts to save her life. Dierdre is a demigoddess, an avatar whom a goddess has inhabited.

She is also an unwilling servant of Typhon, who can only find freedom from him for the short time of around an hour whenever she “dies,” and is then restored to life. Dierdre had made it almost impossible for Francesca to succeed on purpose, so that she could use her hour after being restored to life to scheme against Typhon and try to defeat him. The avatar tells Francesca of a chain that’s around her ankle that Typhon had placed there which would prevent her from leaving Avel. Francesca doesn’t believe her, and is stunned when she sees it’s true when Dierdre removes the chain and show it to her.

Nico is also in the city of Avel in his pursuit of Typhon and the Emerald. Dierdre has told Francesca that she must meet Nico and warn him, but to not touch him. Francesca has heard tales of Nico and the dead bodies he left behind at the Starhaven Academy, so doesn’t want to have anything to do with him, but their meeting is the beginning of romance between them. Francesca’s character adds a lot to the novel. Her escape with Dierdre from the clutches of the Savanna Walker, a sort of half-dragon, half monster servant of Typhon’s, was one of the many exciting moments of Spellbound.

I liked how the author even manages to make Shannon, who died in the first novel, an interesting character in Spellbound. He’s a ghost, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one, created through and with magical sentences by Shannon before he died. How he figures out ways to help Nico despite being a ghost, and his escape from a construct that’s a warkite that’s trying to kill him, were exciting to read about and Charleton made him very believable.

Spellbound does not suffer from the usual sophomore slump that occurs with the second book of a trilogy. I really enjoyed reading about the inventive magical system that Blake Charlton came up with of using silver and gold sentences that a person inscribes in one’s skin and flings out with his/her fingers to cast spells. Spellbound by Blake Charlton is a truly impressive sequel that can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone book. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s read Spellwright, and to anyone who loves the fantasy genre.

–Douglas R. Cobb–