“Where’s the apocalypse?” wonder the characters and the reader as this epic fantasy trilogy reaches its long-awaited conclusion.
Thirty-four years after the events of Spellbound (2011), the cacographer Nicodemus Weal and his half sister, the Empress Vivian, have divided the world between them. Nicodemus’ misspelled metaspells make magical language more intuitive in the realms controlled by the League of Starfall, weakening the logic of spellwrights’ magic while strengthening the power of the local deities—and encouraging the rise of neodemons. Vivian’s metaspells increase the imperial spellwrights’ power, but the inexorable, sterile logic of her magic is also causing crop failures in her lands. Meanwhile, the long-prophesied Disjunction, when the Dread God Los leads an army of demons from the Ancient Continent to destroy humanity, has so far failed to occur. As political tensions rise, Leandra Weal, the daughter of Nicodemus and his draconic wife, Francesca DeVega, sets herself between the two magical factions and discovers some painful truths about herself and the Disjunction. Leandra is not a particularly noble champion; while Nicodemus’ and Francesca’s love for their daughter is understandable, her apparently rash, brutally efficient actions don’t make her terribly likable, even if her ultimate cause is just. But Charlton warned us that prophecy is slippery; no one should’ve expected to see the series conclude with heroes fighting a gigantic human-demon war. The worldbuilding and the conflict are expertly delineated, but much of the trilogy’s focus is far more intimate: a richly textured portrait of personal growth, primarily of Nicodemus as he gains self-confidence in himself and his magic, opens his heart to a lover, and then takes on mature responsibilities as a family man, warrior, and politician.
Vivid, intelligent, and painful in an authentically laudable way.