REVIEW: Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.” That’s a great lead on the blurb for this book, and only makes sense after the experience has completed. Dispel Illusion is the third and final installation of the Impossible Times trilogy, and it truly brings everything full circle.

44806008. sy475 I reviewed Book One, One Word Kill and Book Two, Limited Wish last year at Grimdark Magazine. I was blown away by how Lawrence pulled me into the story and kept surprising me throughout. Book Three is no different, and I simply had to read it and line it up on the site behind the others.

Dispel Illusion takes us and our characters some six years forward from where we left off in Limited Wish. No, we haven’t shifted in time; that’s just how long it’s passed since the conclusion of Book Two. Our heroes have all “grown up” and started careers, though they still get together periodically to play their Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Mia is the Dungeon Master. John and Simon are the stalwart companions to our main protagonist, Nick, who is also once again the narrator of our tale.

Nick’s cancer seems to be gone. The time hammer used in Book Two seems to have “fixed” the timeline and they’ve avoided paradox. Nick and Mia are together, with the teen angst which plagued them at the beginning of their relationship lost in the past. Nick is working in a science lab, continuing on his quest to invent time travel, as his future self came back to tell him he would.

All’s great, or so it seems at first. But we soon learn that Nick and his friends are closing in on the time where it all started, or will start. Mia’s future accident, which prompted Nick to go “back” to fix her, is coming. There are many things that have to happen before they get there, such as creating a way to actually travel back in time.

Then a major discovery happens, and Nick is called in. A breakthrough in suspending time and moving forward has them all excited. Then his sponsor reveals a hidden cavern where more than a hundred people are suspended in time, presumably on their way “back” in time. What does all this mean? Nick has to puzzle that out, and with the help of his close friends, make sure everything stays on course.

This book shifts a little more than the first two, in that while we start out in 1992, we soon get point of view chapters from years down the line, 2009 and 2011. It’s all coming together, and the events of these different years tie it up as we connect the dots. As with the first two books, our party’s D&D adventures run parallel, with yet another new theme being applied in the game and translating beautifully into the present/past/future narratives. Dispel Illusion is a powerful spell in D&D, much more complicated in its application than its name implies. But as things often are, the name of the spell is also the function. Nick just has to decide when to use it, when to break through the perceptions of what is real and work out the implications of knowing the truth.

I won’t give away how it all comes together, but I was pulled in even more as the story unfolded and these different storylines came to one. Things aren’t always as they seem, and Lawrence is a master at obfuscating and then dropping the reveal with perfect timing. Dispel Illusion was every bit as satisfying as the first two books in the series and brought the trilogy to the perfect spot to complete a grand story as they link together over time. Of course, time.

Buy Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

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Chris Haught

Chris Haught is a lifelong fan of all things fantasy, since picking up a copy of The Hobbit age the age of 10, the same year that Star Wars premiered. These laid the foundation for a reading career in speculative fiction, which has expanded over time with exposure to the job market, military service, fatherhood, married life, and becoming a grandpa. These experiences contributed just enough appreciation for the absurd, cynicism, and irony to develop a love of grimdark fiction.