Premise: Aesa Jereward lives in a world where everyone knows magic. His problem is that he might just be ungifted, the one and only person without magic and the fulfillment of a prophecy foretold by the oracle. His family is high-ranking and quite adept with their various magical tendencies, but his problem might mean trouble for him and his family since he has yet to show any aptitude in magic.
At school, he fails to prove he has any ability to perform magic after passing the usual age, and it is there where the professors look at him with the most scrutiny with his fate being more and more probable as the fulfillment of the prophecy and the bringer of the end of magic. His greatest enemy and critic at the school, Harlan, also happens to be an heir to the throne.
With the prophecy comes a terrible foe that could lead to the end of all magic and the endangerment of the entire land of Tuatha. With a powerful family and new-found friend in a dragon at his back, will it fall on Aesa to ultimately save the world?
Themes: Family plays an important role in The Unspeller. When Aesa is threatened with exile for possibly having no magic, his family rallies around him to protect and defend him.
The Unspeller is also a coming of age story with the expectations that come with rites of manhood at a certain age. When Aesa can’t pass or fulfill those rites, his usefulness and ability to even function in society are questioned, by others and himself.
This story is also one of self-discovery. With Aesa questioning himself, he learns so much more about who he is and what his role in life is. It is sometimes only through trials that those things can be discovered.
Pros: I thought the runic magic system was incredibly interesting and well-crafted. I loved how Aesa’s family each had a form of magic they were adept at that set them apart from each other and gave each of them a personality. It helped form likeable and unique characters just through the magic with the way it shaped each of their lives. The second half of the book is where this story shines, with an increasingly close relationship with the dragon Laeron and where the characters really start to show some depth. The twists at the end are enough to prove satisfying from some heavy-handed foreshadowing.
Cons: Self-published novels are difficult in this area, as one of the most common problems is in the editing. The Unspeller is no different in that it is full of little spelling and formatting errors. The story starts out fairly slow and is clunky at times, with parts that could have easily been edited out or tightened up.
Recommendations: I was surprised at how much I liked The Unspeller and the Book of Days. Most of the self-published books I have read have needed some major overhauls, but I won this on Goodreads and thought I would give it a try. This book wasn’t near as bad as some of those I have read. In fact, with some minor tweaks and a once-over by an editor, The Unspeller is a pretty good fantasy novel with twists and turns and a nicely crafted magic system that works very well. I would love to read book two in the series.