Dispel Illusion

You probably remember that I was intrigued when Mark Lawrence announced that he was releasing a science fiction series. With nine fantasy yarns under his belt and a well-deserved reputation as one of the best speculative fiction authors out there, I was wondering if he could make the jump to science fiction and wow readers in a new subgenre. Yes, ye of little faith and all that, I know. In the end, One Word Kill delivered on pretty much all fronts.

I also wondered if Lawrence could maintain that level of quality and originality for what came next, yet everything in Limited Wish worked quite well and the second volume avoided the many pitfalls of the middle book syndrome. Now, the only question remaining would have to be whether or not the author could close the show with the same style and aplomb.

And I'm pleased to report that Mark Lawrence did just that!

Here's the blurb:

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

As is usually his wont, the author's worldbuilding continues to be there to provide the tale's backdrop and doesn't intrude on the storytelling. Quantum physics, the multiverse theory, and time traveling are once more at the heart of this final installment. But as was the case with One Word Kill and Limited Wish, this third volume is not a hard scifi novel. Mark Lawrence spent years working as a scientist and throughout the trilogy he did a wonderful job dumbing down the science involved to make sure that readers are never lost. And although there is more science featured within the pages of Dispel Illusion, the Impossible Times remains Lawrence's most accessible series thus far.

The first book introduced Nick to the mind-blowing reality that is the concept of time traveling and the sequel saw him use his intellectual abilities to study and gradually understand the logistics behind time travel. Dispel Illusion takes the tale one step further and deals with the repercussions of time manipulation. With Mia's accident approaching, it gradually dawns upon Nick that a lot of things he thought he knew no longer make as much sense as he first believed.

It's been obvious for a while that each novel's title has to do with a particular spell or something similar, and that the Dungeons and Dragons game sessions Nick shares with his friends have consequences on the plot at large. It may not be as evident to draw a parallel between their role-playing meetings and the overall storyline of Dispel Illusion early on, but it makes more and more sense as you read on. This third volume is more complex than its predecessors, no doubt about it. Simply trust Mark Lawrence to do right by you and all will be explained in good time.

As was the case with One Word Kill, this last volume is pretty much Nick and Mia's tale throughout. The members of the supporting cast from the first two installments play various roles as Dispel Illusion weaves through a timeline that moves between 1992, 1985, and 2011. Needless to say, Lawrence has quite a few surprises up his sleeve. All I can say is that you should expect the unexpected. And then some.

Dispel Illusion is another short science fiction book. Once again, Lawrence keeps things moving at a good clip and the pace is never an issue. My only regret is that this is another quick read, one you wish could last longer. The author goes full circle in this one, capping it all off with a compelling endgame and a satisfying finale. If for some reason you've been reticent to give Lawrence's fantasy series a shot, perhaps the Impossible Times trilogy would work better for you.

With a fourth quality series published and another trilogy on the way, Mark Lawrence continues to be one of the best SFF writers on the market today. Looking forward to whatever he's got in the pipeline.

The final verdict: 8/10

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