Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish book cover
Rating 8.3/10
Entertaining, cerebral, and binge-worthy.

Limited Wish, book two of the Impossible Times trilogy, is a highly-enjoyable and heady sci-fi adventure with heavy emotional beats. Although this book takes a bit longer than One Word Kill to have its full scope be revealed, the mind-bending paths that we’re being led through becomes a twisty and challenging puzzle that deepens as the story progresses. Exploring the implications of the characters' actions and their ripple effects through various timelines is as impressive as it is complex. Yet Lawrence does an admirable job interpreting these rule-breaking time-travel theories and making them quite clear for the reader to follow. 


The book itself is a paradox in a sense, as it is simultaneously a light and heavy read. Romance, role-playing games, and challenges at school help to shape Nick’s coming of age tale, yet it also asks the reader to contemplate advanced mathematics and physics theories, time loops, paradoxes, universal energies, and the potential existence-destroying possibilities that stem from it all. Although Lawrence outlines some of the bigger concepts in as clear a way as possible, I still recommend spending a bit of extra time to think about and absorb each new fold before continuing. Like any good book, you get out of it as much as you put in, and I found myself pausing and doing a bit of extra research to consider some new angles of where the story might be headed. And if any book makes me want to research math and physics on my own time -- for fun! -- then that’s a pretty damn good compliment to the author. 

Limited Wish shares a fair amount in common with its predecessor which, considering the plot, is entirely expected, but also serves as a bit of a detriment. Once again, the D&D game emulates Nick’s real-life dilemmas… or perhaps his dilemmas are emulating the game. A few of the story's beats feel familiar, which may be an unfair dig at a story that involves time loops and paradoxes. But it's a small gripe when weighing it against how damn entertaining this story is. These books are relatively short, but make the most of their pages by creating strong characters that leave a lasting impact on the reader, and a furious pace that will force you to want to read this story in just a sitting or two. With only one book to go, and many more questions raised than answered, I can't wait to see what Lawrence has in store for the conclusion.

Adam Weller, 8/10

Limited Wish is the sequel to One Word Kill. Like its predecessor, this novel involves twisty plots revolving around quantum theory and time travel and I loved how Lawrence kept the ambiance that I loved from the first novel but managed a plot that felt different and had its own share of twists and tangles.

Much like in One Word Kill, Lawrence excels at getting us inside the head of Nick, our protagonist. If anything, Nick feels even more authentic in this novel. He may be a mathematics prodigy, but he feels like a real teenager. Although fantastic events have taken over his life, Nick still has many of the same struggles and concerns that any high school or university student would experience. It’s this relatability that really helps the novel to shine, I think. Lawrence also gives us some wonderfully evocative D&D sessions. Anyone who has even played D&D and then tried to describe a session to someone knows how hard it can be to translate the excitement of playing the game into a description of the game. Lawrence manages to do this regularly, creating D&D sessions that are fun and enjoyable to read about. That alone deserves praise. Of course, the plot is also a lot of fun. This time we get to see Nick struggle with how paradox fits into his (fairly tidy) understanding of time travel. It’s a wild ride and even at the end of the novel after a few fun reveals, I still have some questions in terms of how this whole paradox thing actually works, but then - that’s kinda the point, isn’t it? I really enjoy books that keep me thinking long after I’ve finished them, and Limited Wish is definitely that sort of novel. If you enjoy cerebral sci-fi I think you’ll very much enjoy this one!

There’s obviously a lot that worked for me. If there is anything that didn’t work for me, it was that I felt like some of the friendship and camaraderie that made the first book so much fun was lacking in this one. The characters did have quite the same level of one-for-all, all-for-one that we were able to enjoy in One Word Kill. I also felt like, while the plot was a lot of fun with plenty of twists and turns and science-y mystery, there wasn’t much character growth for Nick or any of his friends.

In the end, Limited Wish might not quite measure up to One Word Kill, but it’s still a wonderful sci-fi read with fun characters and a plot that keeps you thinking long after you’ve put the book down for the last time. Highly recommended.

Calvin Park, 8.5/10

This Limited Wish book review was written by and Adam Weller

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