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Spellbreaker    by Blake Charlton order for
by Blake Charlton
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed Blake Charlton's Spellwright, but then missed the sequel, Spellbound, so had some catching up to do, to understand this third in the trilogy, Spellbreaker. It would definitely be preferable to read all three in order, as it's a complex world, dealing with intricate systems of magic. Indeed, the author, who overcame childhood dyslexia to become a cardiologist, injects a kind of magical dyslexia into his series.

Nicodemus Weal, the original protagonist, now shares the stage with his wife Francesca (a dragon/physician) and his daughter Leandra, who suffers a debilitating disease in which the divine aspects she inherited from her mother attack the human aspects that came from her father. Their world fears the Disjunction, expecting the demons of the Ancient Continent to cross the ocean and attack at any time. But they are not united. Nicodemus sides with the league that encourages deities to thrive in its territory, while his half sister, Empress Vivian, casts metaspells that strengthen spellwrights and weaken deities.

As this episode opens, Lea is hunting neodemons and acquires a prophetic spell that makes her aware that she will have no choice but to kill someone she loves, very soon. Of course, she starts seeking ways to avoid this doom (and comes up with imaginative potential solutions) while also furthering a secret rebellion she has not shared with either parent. Each family member has a protective entourage of powerful fighters, magic users, and divinity complexes. And Leandra and Francesca have long been estranged. The family will soon come together, but first they investigate mysterious slaughters.

Events escalate into all out war between league and all powerful empire, leaving the former with very hard choices to make. An old enemy returns in a surprising manner. And there are betrayals and near misses on all sides before the end, but along the way, Leandra makes peace with her mother. From first page to last, it seems that Leandra has unacceptable choices to reconcile, but she moves outside the box each time and rewrites her world. Spellbreaker is a complicated yet brilliant story, well worth the read!

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