Title: THE SPELLWORKER
Series: BOOK OF TONGUES SAGA #1
Author: VICTORIA LAMB
Publication Date: OCTOBER 1, 2020
ABOUT THE BOOK
Princess Fiamma is the girl with the serpent tattoos, born to guard the Book of Tongues, a magical text nobody living knows how to read.
Raised in royal privilege, it’s a shock when the Citadel comes under attack and Fiamma is forced to flee in disguise with the Book of Tongues. Her only companion is Hurth, a handsome but surly soldier who doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for a ‘spoilt princess.’
A time when reading is forbidden, and books are dangerous.
Fiamma may be spoilt but she knows her duty. She must not allow the Book to fall into the evil hands of the Spellworker, whose powerful magic can kill with a single word.
A perilous journey through occupied territories.
Together, she and Hurth must search for a mysterious place where the Book has always been taken in times of danger. But worse than Hurth’s disdain and the hardships of the journey are her own deepest fears about the Book, which has started whispering to her in the night, teaching her how to read it—is the Book turning her into a Spellworker too?
As she faces her destiny, and learns the true meaning of the serpent tattoos she bears, Fiamma has to decide how far she’ll go to protect the Book’s secrets.
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS A FEW SPOILERS***
I read this book without having any expectations and I didn’t know whether I would actually enjoy it but turns out I did enjoy it. A book about spellworkers who can do magic just by reading a forbidden and rare book? I’m here for it.
What is a spellworker? It’s just a title given to those who were born with the ability to read spells from the Book of Tongues which is a very rare and forbidden book. Spellworker isn’t just one person, there are others too but only a few. This book only introduced two spellworkers so far. One is a good person and the other is an evil person. Spellworkers are deemed terrifying due to their vast knowledge of so many different spells. If they can say any spells, they have the power to control an army of soldiers and they are also able to take an entire kingdom. I totally get why they are seen as dangerous.
The concept of spellworking is one I haven’t seen in any other books before, and so does the entire magic system that the author introduced in this book. The magic system was unique, spellworking that only spellworkers can have is one of them, and the other one is prophetic visions that only prophets can have. Prophets aren’t the same as spellworkers in terms of their abilities, but how they get to have those abilities is just the same as spellworkers. Both already have their abilities since the day they were born.
I was so invested in the entire spellworking and prophetic visions concepts. I find both to be so impressive, and the author did a great job at creating and using these concepts for this story. Both are easy to understand but I still find that there was still a mystery about spellworking and the Book of Tongues because these two are connected. Will the Book of Tongues open itself in the sequel since the prophet locked it after the evil spellworker read it? Are there going to be more new informations about spellworking in the next book that hasn’t been revealed in this one? Honestly, my excitement for the sequel is immeasurable due to so many things I’m looking forward to read.
As for the worldbuilding, I find it simply beautiful. The world the author created in this book is very big. This book mainly takes place in Trilan and the First Isle which is part of the Weralph Isles. While both places aren’t my favorite but at least Weralph Isles is the safest place for the main protagonist as of now. There are so many places that needs to be explored, and so many different cultures and traditions in different places needs to be shown. A few has already been introduced in this book and I was impressed by how well the author described it, so I can only imagine what more impressive stuff will the author bring in the sequel. This is another thing I’m looking forward to in the next book.
On another hand, the storyline was interesting enough to hold my attention. I admit that when I read the first chapter I wasn’t sure whether I would like the book but as I keep reading I found myself enjoying the story. The story started off with a huge bang, as in stakes are already high in the beginning with someone screaming they were attacked by the Norda which is an enemy of the Esttan people, and they are many fallen Esttan soldiers murdered by both the Norda soldiers and the evil spellworker. The opening scene was terrifying enough for me but I was puzzled that it started off that way because I had no idea what was happening.
I’m glad the author put in an explanation later on in the story regarding why the Norda attacked the Esttan people. This is also one of the reason why I enjoyed reading this book. The author actually put an effort to include the brief history of why these two are enemies in the story which helps expand the storyline more and give more room to explore many other things not just in this book but also in the future installments of the series. This book won’t be the last time the Norda make an appearance. I’m sure they’ll come back in the next one and the other installments (depending on how many books are there in the series). Plus, the main protagonist did something to them at the end which I’m sure they want to come back for revenge. I’m going to see how this will play out in the next book.
Speaking of history, I also want to add that I liked how the author included the history/origin of spellworking and spellworkers too along with the existence of the Book of Tongues. Learning the origin of where these three came from and how they are connected helps me understand what was going on much better since the Book of Tongues is the reason why the Norda attacked the Esttan people, and the one person controlling the Norda was the evil spellworker who mastered his spellworking ability on his own, and he wanted the Book of Tongues which is heavily guarded by the main protagonist.
The Book of Tongues is very important. I thought it was just another book of magical spells but turns out it was much more than just that. The spells in it might not be impressive at all even though each spell has its own unique sound but what it can do if the wrong person has any knowledge of those spells are what makes it dangerous hence why the Book of Tongues is heavily guarded by the Esttan council members and then by the main protagonist. The book can’t fall to the wrong hands.
I also want to add this little tidbit about how rare the book is. Every time any group of people found out the main protagonist carried a book in her backpack, they went completely silent and accused her of witchcraft. Turns out, everyone in the world where this story takes place in can’t read books because books are forbidden things and only spellworkers are allowed to read books. What a sad world to live in knowing only spellworkers have access to books and how they’re the only ones who can read while others can’t and are forbidden to do so. To add to that, there are not many people born to be spellworkers and have spellworking abilities. Spellworkers are rare too just like books in this world. Only a few people are born naturally with spellworking abilities. Still, I find it quite hilarious seeing everyone’s reaction to the main protagonist carrying a book.
Back to the storyline again, there are so many great stuff happened and some surprising twists that I didn’t see coming. Both the storyline and the plot are interesting and very engaging. Reading this book made me feel many emotions but I was mostly curious due to the mysteries in the story that I needed to find out. And the answers are shocking enough to the point it blew my mind.
The pacing of this book was a bit slow but it wasn’t too slow which can make me feel bored. I hope the pacing for the next book is fast but not too fast. Also, I want to add that since this book only has one POV which belonged to the main protagonist, I hope the next one will have three POVs since the main protagonist has two companions which are also the main characters in the story. I want to see what her companions thought of their big and dangerous adventure, and I want to know more about them and get inside of their heads to try to understand them better. I’m hoping for three POVs in the upcoming books but I’m not sure if that will happen.
As for the action scenes, all are epic but my most favorite was the big battle scene near the end which was the main protagonist facing off the evil spellworker and summoning a Sea Wurm (that’s how it was spelled in the book) to help defeat the said evil spellworker along with the Norda army. That was a very remarkable moment to remember. I don’t know what to expect for the future action scenes in the upcoming books but hopefully there will be at least one or two epic scenes.
The ending for this book was great, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but it perfectly set up the sequel. At least things are going smoothly for the main protagonist and her two companions looking at the end scene but I’m sure they’ll have to face more heavy obstacles in the sequel especially after they made a decision to move to the Last Isle which is another part of Weralph Isles. But the Last Isle is said to be an Isle where the first and previous spellworkers resides in. Since it was the main protagonist destiny to bring the Book of Tongues there maybe she can learn more spellworking stuff there, and maybe she can finally embrace her spellworker nature which can make her reach to her full power as a spellworker, and lastly maybe the book will open itself there after the prophet locked it.
My excitement for the next book is immeasurable. I don’t expect too much but I was just expecting things that have the potential to be in the next book, but even if none happens like what I’m expecting then I’m still going to be fine with it. All I can say is that, the sequel is definitely on my radar and I’m looking forward to see what happens next.
Now moving on to the characters…
Fiamma is the main protagonist of the story and obviously for the entire series. Her role in the beginning wasn’t just as the princess of Estta but also as the person who guards the Book of Tongues. She may not seem important but she eventually plays an important part in the entire story and her role is bigger than I thought at first.
She may not be as badass and fierce as most heroines in many fantasy books but at least her character is important and interesting enough that she alone can carry the entire book. I get that she was just 15 or was it 16(?), and yet she made a couple mistakes which made me feel so frustrated. But then I reminded myself that she’s too young and too inexperienced which was logical for her to make mistakes. Looking back at what she did, it lined up perfectly with her age.
She was a young teen who already had a target on her back and since she didn’t know what she can do, she was scared something bad would happen and she won’t be able to save herself and her companions. It was understandable that she would do something stupid and reckless, but I can’t stop myself from getting frustrated by her action: giving the evil spellworker the Book of Tongues in order to free her companions from his clutches but ended up getting in more trouble instead and putting the evil spellworker in a higher position because he managed to read all the spells in the book. I get frustrated on that part the most because she knew it was a trap set by the evil spellworker and yet she fell for it despite knowing that she shouldn’t. Girl, what are you doing?
I better not see her messing up like that again in the sequel. She better learn from her own mistakes and try to improve herself. There’s always a room for an improvement. Now that she’s growing up and started to act mature, she should know better and don’t repeat the same mistakes. I hope the author would properly develop her character in the next book. Her character has a lot of potential to be the best protagonist in the entire series, so I better not see the potential getting wasted.
Also, I want to see more of her improving her spellworking ability and try to train herself on how to use it so that she can prepare herself when there’s a new threat coming. She has a lot to learn especially since she just found out that she is a naturally born spellworker. A spellworker is powerful but she just didn’t know how to reach her full potential and unlock all the things she can do with her spellworking ability. She still doesn’t know how powerful she can be but I would like to see her in all her powerful glory. At least she’s not evil which is a win for the good side. I’m looking forward to see what’s in store for her in the sequel, and also I want to see more of her serious side. She was too soft for the majority of the book, but once she gets serious, she was the one in charge and I would pay money to see that side of her more in the sequel.
Hurth is one of Fiamma’s companions, and he plays the role of her bodyguard in the story. The entire time I knew him, he was a grumpy 17-year-old guy who never smile. He’s a pretty tough guy to crack which made him even more intriguing because he’s not an open book, so it was hard to try to read him and figure out what his problem was. All I know in the beginning was that he loathed Fiamma but what was the reason? I seriously didn’t know until before the book ended.
He was such an intriguing guy full of mystery. He do kept a lot of secrets which to me was fun to theorize what secrets did he keep so close to himself. Judging from his demeanor and how he look from the outside, the world was being unfair to him which made his life pretty hard. He knew what it was like to get hurt and living in pain everyday. He lost his mother when he was just a little boy and the fact that her death is connected to Fiamma put him in a very difficult situation. I get why he loathed her and had a very hard time trying to open himself up. I felt sorry for him and his backstory is definitely the saddest in this book.
Aside from that, Hurth is a very loyal bodyguard who never break his oath. Once he made an oath and set his mind to do something, no one and nothing can stop him from doing it. This is one of the things I liked about him. Despite being put in a position where he had to guard the girl that caused his mother’s death—albeit unintentionally—he still managed to cast aside those hurt and painful feelings and did his duty as best as he can. Well, he definitely slacking at his duty but I can’t exactly blame him for being tired and eventually fell alseep while he was supposed to guard Fiamma from their enemies. He needed those sleep so he has a lot of energy. He was also a bit reckless which ended up in him getting his leg injured but at least Fiamma was able to heal it, all thanks to her spellworking ability.
This was my first time ever reading about the hero not being able to protect the heroine from dangers because of the smallest mistakes he made and the heroine had to be the one to saved his life instead. What the author did here is refreshing to see in a fantasy book because mostly it was always the heroes job to protect and save the heroines but here, the role is reversed. I don’t mind that much because either way it was still cool. I just hope the next book will show Hurth’s skills and what is he capable of as a bodyguard. He is basically a royal guard, so he needs to show what he can do. Also, I would like to see him smile and laugh a lot because the one in the ending wasn’t enough. He needs to be happy too after everything he had to go through in his life. I feel bad seeing him trapped in his own pain for years. There’s still so much about him I want to learn so hopefully he’ll get his own POV in the sequel and try to be more open instead of keeping himself as a close book.
Akabril is also one of Fiamma’s companions. He wasn’t there since the beginning but he appeared in the middle of the book. His role in the story is a prophet. Just like Fiamma, he was already born with prophetic visions except his abilities are way different than hers. He can see far into the future, sending future visions to others, being able to look into other people’s past and future, and being able to say a few spells that differed from the spells that spellworkers used. He did have the best abilities compared to Fiamma in my opinion. I was impressed by all the things he can do in this book. He was also the one who locked the Book of Tongues after it fell in the hands of the evil spellworker due to Fiamma’s inability to be smarter. Props to him for doing the only thing he can think of in a dire situation just so he can save everyone’s lives.
Every time there was a life and death situations they’re in, he was the one who always look so calm. Never once did he ever panicked while the others are panicking about the evil spellworker and the Norda tracking them down. If calm is a person, he definitely is that person. He was so chill about the entire situation but if he ever gets angry, he was a lot fiercer and his calm demeanor suddenly vanished. It was like seeing an entirely different person because he switched up fast but he wasn’t dangerous or terrifying. He was also the only person who knew better and knew too much. I admit that he was smart and is very calculating in every moves he made, and he has a bigger plan than he lets on but I hope he won’t turn out to be a bad guy and betraying Fiamma and Hurth. He proved to be a trustworthy person so let him stay that way.
I wonder what are the things he’ll try to do in the next book. He was the one who plans for them to move to the Last Isle and I knew he had a good intention of doing that, but what else is he going to do to ensure he and the others will succeed in their next mission? Since he knows a lot about spellworking and spellworkers despite being a prophet, I’m thinking that he must have some surprises he will show in the sequel which will either turns out to be amazing or less impressive. He never fail to amazed me in this book. I was even shocked at seeing how smart he actually is. I’ll have to wait and see what the author will do to his character in the sequel.
The main villain of the story is the evil spellworker. He’s a young man probably about both Hurth and Akabril’s age but he’s definitely not an old man. He doesn’t have a name because it wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the book so I just call him by ‘evil spellworker’ because that’s who he is. He’d done terrible things just by using his spellworking ability which made him terrifying enough even though he was just a teen. I didn’t find him a compelling villain at all. There wasn’t much to know about him and he wasn’t written really well either. If a villain is a hit or miss, he definitely is a miss. He was only terrifying because of what he can do but his overall character is forgettable and doesn’t have a strong impression at all.
I’m not sure whether he was still alive but judging by the end scene when the Sea Wurm destroyed the Norda ships along with the soldiers, it looks like he was also defeated by the giant creature. Still I wasn’t sure if he was truly gone because after that epic battle scene, Fiamma said she herself wasn’t sure whether the Sea Wurm ate the evil spellworker or not, and she was still in shock at that time so she didn’t trust what she saw. I strongly hope he’s truly gone and let the next villain be the Norda because they have a strong potential to be a bigger threat and have so many reasons to go after Fiamma, Hurth, and Akabril. The evil spellworker terrorized these three just because of a single book and that book can give him more power. I was expecting something big as the reason why he did what he did.
There was a little romance between Hurth and Fiamma in this book. I knew it was coming from the beginning. Two people who loathed each other and couldn’t stand one another’s presence had to go on a long journey together and kept getting closer day by day? Everyone knows how this will end up. I was rooting for them since the start of their journey. There was a strong connection between them already and their chemistry was so good. The slow-burn build up to their romance was truly amazing. I was already happy they finally get to that moment, and then the author had to hit it with Hurth saying that he and Fiamma are better off as friends.
Again, we all know how that would go when the hero and heroine stay as friends while the feelings are there and very real. They definitely won’t stay as friends for long. Sooner or later he would be the one to break his own words and pursue a romantic relationship with her. Fiamma was smart enough to know his feelings for her is real because she felt it too but the poor girl was confused by the sudden change. I hope she won’t overthink it since she has a bigger things to do next.
I get why Hurth said it, he knew he was just her bodyguard and she is a royal princess he needs to protect. He knew how much he worth but it was sad that he thought he wasn’t good enough for a princess like her. The way he doesn’t have a confidence in himself hurts me. I hope he will realize that he alone is enough for her. Both of them needs to be happy and if being together brings them that then so be it. Not many people can see it but they make a good match. I loved seeing how protective they are of each other even though they tried not to show it in which they failed so hard. It was easier to see that they have feelings for one another. I doubt they’ll survive staying as friends only. Their romance in the next book is going to be full of angst and I’m not ready for it. Honestly, I’m bad at handling angsty romances.
On another note, one would argue that Akabril would be a perfect match and have the potential to be another love interest for Fiamma. He was a great guy but I couldn’t stand him if he will be the second love interest. But the more I think about it, and the way I see from their interactions, they are meant to be friends only. He never feel any romantic feelings toward her and she never given him her full attention throughout their entire journey. All their conversations are purely about their missions and they only regarded each other as friends. They don’t have the same connection and chemistry like Fiamma and Hurth do. He even said at one point in the book that he and Fiamma are distant family members but never met each other because their respective families are separated from one another for years. It brought back the conversation she has with Hurth regarding the origin of the Book of Tongues in which she said she had distant families but she didn’t know much about their existence to which Hurth replied by saying that maybe her distant family members also have the ability to read the Book of Tongues aside from her. It’s best to rule out Akabril as a potential love interest when he never was one to begin with.
Overall, this book have so many potentials just like the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am looking forward to read more from this amazing world. So much to look forward to in the sequel and with how amazing this one is, I have hopes that the next one will be great. I’m excited to see the characters next mission and what are they going to do in the Last Isle. Will the Book of Tongues open itself again or is it going to stay close forever? Will there be any other spellworkers from Fiamma’s distant families? I’m asking these questions but I have to wait until the next book to come out to discover more. The ending of this book made me so eager to read the sequel. I really need it.
Historical and YA paranormal authorof the RNA award-winning novel WITCHSTRUCK, Victoria Lamb is addicted to the supernatural, and on dark nights has been known to sneak out and howl at the moon. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, and other fiction as Betty Walker, Elizabeth Moss and Beth Good, among others. Victoria’s most recent novel is THE SPELLWORKER, first in a fab new YA epic fantasy series called THE BOOK OF TONGUES.