“The universe doesn’t care about time. We care about time. Because we remember.”
Dispel Illusion is the third and final volume of Mark Lawrence’s Impossible Times trilogy, which chronicles the life and times (and more times) of Nick Hayes, the mathematical genius who invents time travel.
Dispel Illusion begins several years after the conclusion of the previous book, Limited Wish. By this time, time travel into the future has become almost routine. But time travel into the past is a much more complicated problem with the ability to create paradoxes that could destroy the physical world.
Mark Lawrence lives up to all of his very high standards in Dispel Illusion, with excellent character development, worldbuilding, and emotional and intellectual engagement. The Impossible Times trilogy has it all and can be enjoyed by young adults and adults alike.
Even from the first few pages, readers will know that they are in the hands of a masterful writer. Let me give you a taste for Lawrence’s writing from Dispel Illusion, as Nick reflects on his life and how we never really grow up:
“Perhaps it would be the same even if I lived to be eighty. Perhaps it’s the same for everyone, no matter how many years they’re trailing behind them. Always the child standing there wearing an old man’s clothes, an old skin hanging from old bones, and wondering where the days went, remembering how marvellous it had been to fritter away so many slow and sunny days. And wanting more.”
All three books of the trilogy are full of 1980s nostalgia that are a special treat for people who grew up during that era. Mark Lawrence earns bonus points in Dispel Illusion for his spot-on Scooby-Doo reference.
Dispel Illusion also plays a critical role for understanding the greater universe of Mark Lawrence’s body of work. In several of my reviews, I’ve noted the presence of Dr. Elias Taproot, a mysterious character who appears in each of his trilogies. Guess what? He is here too in Dispel Illusion, in the flesh. All of Mark Lawrence’s books are connected, in a very David Mitchell-esque way, and Dr. Taproot is the key. He is akin to the Hoid character who appears throughout Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere universe.
Dispel Illusion features another one of Mark Lawrence’s most enigmatic characters, Boris, who may or may not actually exist. The question is: Do you trust your friends?
Overall, Dispel Illusion is a delightful surprise, full of unexpected revelations about both the Impossible Times trilogy and Mark Lawrence’s universe as a whole. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the bigger picture of what Mark Lawrence has created across his full body of work.