Blake Charlton
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Buy *Spellbound* by Blake Charlton

Blake Charlton
Tor Books
416 pages
September 2011
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Blake Charltonís trilogy debut novel Spellwright, blew me away. I was expecting the second book, Spellbound, to be its equal, but itís notóitís even better! Ten years after the events in Spellwright, Nicodemus Weal is still pursuing the demon Typhon, because he needs to get the Emerald of Aarahest which is in Typhonís possession. 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.

Francesca DeVega, a healer/cleric in the city of Avel, takes on an even more important role in Spellbound. Her storyline is, in fact, the first one taken up in this novel. While operating on a patient, using her magical healing sentences, she does something wrong, and her patientóDierdreódies, despite Francescaís 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 ďdiesĒ and is then restored to life. Dierdre made it almost impossible for Francesca to succeed on purpose so that she could use her hour to scheme against Typhon and try to defeat him. The avatar tells Francesca of a chain around her ankle that Typhon placed there to prevent her from leaving Avel. Francesca doesnít believe her but is stunned when she sees itís true when Dierdre removes the chain and shows 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 not touch him. Francesca has heard tales of Nico and the dead bodies he left behind at the Starhaven Academy.; She doesnít want to have anything to do with him, but their meeting heralds the beginning of romance between them. Francescaís 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, is one of many exciting moments of Spellbound.

The author even manages to make Shannon, who died in the first novel, an interesting character in Spellbound. Heís a ghost, or at least a reasonable facsimile of one, created through and with magical sentences by Shannon before he died. How he finds ways to help Nico despite being a ghost, and his escape from a warkite thatís trying to kill him, are exciting, and Charlton makes him very believable.

Spellbound doesnít suffer from the usual sophomore slump that often occurs with the second book of a trilogy, thanks in part to Charltonís inventive magical system: silver and gold sentences that a person inscribes on oneís skin and flings out with his or her fingers to cast spells. Spellbound is a truly impressive sequel that can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Douglas R. Cobb, 2011

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