My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nicodemus Weal is gifted with magic. Unfortunately, he is also cursed with a spelling disorder. Not a magic spell problem, a problem spelling words. And, in this world, that is a disablility that makes him unable to become the full wizard he wanted to be. Because, here, to cast a spell, the author creates it by writing it in his own body, and then casting the carefully syntaxed sentences out physically. Nicodemus not only has problems spelling the words, his touch can cause an already cast spell to misspell, and that can have disastrous consequences. He is sent to Starhaven, one of the schools for wizards, as a cacographer, or a magic wielder who can’t spell. But when other cacographic boys start dying, and an evil force comes looking for Nicodemus, he learns he may be the victim of a curse that removed a very special magic ability from him long ago.
On the surface, this is an epic fantasy, with the usual hero’s quest. The twist here is in the magic system. It is truly unique in form: the dependence on words, spelling, and sentence syntax, along with writing the texts in the wizard’s body to be physically cast is a different take on the usual magics we see in fantasy. It is well thought out, and works as a system.
The focus of the story is on Nicodemus, and he is a fully rounded character. You can’t help but feel for his inability to become what he always felt destined to be, and understand when he sometimes seems to be grasping for any bit of hope that he can be cured. The rest of the cast, however, seems a bit less fully developed. Even Nico’s mentor falls a bit flat in spots. This is Nico’s story and he should shine, but it was hard to get a feel for some of the other important people. The setting takes a back seat to the quest story, so the world building is less developed than some might expect in an epic fantasy. The upside is that we don’t get a massive tome to accomodate all of that. The story moves along well and never feels like it is dragging or pushed aside for set decoration.
All in all, the story is good, the magic system intriguing, and it is a nice introduction to the trilogy.
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
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