Title: Truthwitch (#1 in the Witchlands series)
Author: Susan Dennard
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Synopsis: (Synopsis from Goodreads)
In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.
Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.
Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
My Thoughts: Although the world building was a bit messy in the beginning, I thought that this book was very solid. I do wish that we had spent more time discussing the background and history of this world. All that we are told about the Witchlands is that there was a war before the story took place and that their 20 year peace treaty is about to end. I liked the magic system, but having more clarification with it would’ve been great as well. I thought that having a power and having it branch out to sub-classes was really cool. For example, an Airwitch can control air, create tornadoes, take the air out of someones lungs, etc, but a Windwitch can only manipulate the wind and air currents. My only gripe about the magic was that I lost track of a lot of them because there were so many different types. There is also this thing called “cleaving” that happens sporadically in the book. I’m still not too sure about what causes it or how it even began. I hope that that gets cleared up in the second book.
The characters were by far the best aspect of this book. But at the start of the novel, I had a hard time remembering who was who and who did what; the connections between a few of the characters flew over my head quite a few times. There were so many uncles, emperors, and guild masters’ names thrown around I didn’t know what to do with them. As for the characters I did enjoy reading about, Safi, Iseult, Merik, and Aeduan were all stellar. Safiya and Iseult are both amazing separately as they are together. They are the perfect balance for each other; Safi is impulsive and headstrong while Iseult is calm, collected, and she thinks things through before she acts. I do prefer Iseult over her counterpart just because I feel like she is a lot more interesting with the storyline that she has. Iz has a lot more going on with her family, and her situation with the Puppeteer; I feel like she is a piece in a game bigger than anyone expects. Although I really like Safi, I found her a little bit annoying at times; I just didn’t like how they were constantly put in danger because of her being so reckless. I am in love with their friendship; they have one of the strongest bonds that I’ve read about in my books. As for Merik, I liked him for the most part. He is a guy who just wants what’s best for his country and will do everything in his power to make it that way. The one thing I didn’t like about Merik was how quickly obsessed he became with Safiya. That was just too fast for me. I can’t even describe how much I enjoy reading about Aeduan, the bloodwitch that is out to get the two girls. He is such a complex character with interesting morals. I started out thinking that he was just a typical villain (the kind that is bad for the sake of being bad) but, he is much more than that. I’ll go into more details about everyone in the spoiler section. Also without giving out too much, just know that I love Iseult and Aeduan separately and together hehehe…
As for the writing, I couldn’t get enough of it. The way that Susan Dennard writes is so addictive.The action sequences are orchestrated so well, they keep you on the edge of your seat. The plot of this book, on the other hand feels like your standard fantasy novel; the main character has a “special power” that everyone wants to have control over for about a half of the book. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. For me, I like how the other half of the story deviates from the standard with the other storylines involving the side characters intertwined within it. Just hearing something new while also grabbing hold onto something familiar was refreshing. I kind of wish that a few things were explored a tiny bit more. If you are in the mood to pick up a lighter high fantasy book, then this should keep you satisfied. This fast paced story coupled with its captivating characters, and an interesting plot, is a solid read. I’m excited for Windwitch and will be getting it once it comes out. Don’t expect too much, just enjoy the journey that the story takes you. And now for the spoiler section.
I want to say something about each character and their relationships + other things.
Safiya: I’m really curious as so to what Safi will have to go through while being with the Iron Queen Lady. Towards the end, she really matured and had some character growth; she no longer thinks of herself as much as she did at the beginning of the novel. I am also interested with how her power works. I want to know why it doesn’t work when people believe that they’re telling the truth. She is also so strong physically and emotionally; Safi can really hold her own. She was so fun to read about. I love her relationship with Iseult so much! They would honestly do anything for each other… to a fault. I think that her relationship with Merik is very interesting. It’s like it has a little bit of instalove because of how long they’ve known each other, but I adore their banter so much. This story takes place over like a week or so.
Iseult: She is probably my favourite character in the whole series so far. I love how she is a thinker. She takes time to assess her surroundings before she acts. Iz is the one with a plan, she is the left handed purse-cutting action in comparison to Safiya as the right hand distraction. Iseult isn’t always as calm and stoic as Threadwitches are “supposed” to be, and I like that about her. She is definitely something else. Her smarts aren’t the only thing that is great about her as well. She is such an amazing warrior; she won’t ever go down without a fight. The fact that she took Aeduan on her own and destroyed him was incredible. But, what made me lover her even more was when she showed him mercy and kept him alive. Speaking of Aeduan, I LOVE HIM AND ISEULT TOGETHER! Even though they tried to kill each other, I knew that it was the beginning of a hate-to-love kind of thing. I want to know more about her backstory involving Evrane and what went down in the past between them. Although her power is very cool, I’m still confused as to how it works sometimes. In the next book, I need to know what will happen with the crazy cult leader guy who can take away powers, if she will see her mom again, her storyline with the puppeteer, and her situation with Aeduan. I LIVE FOR THE SLOWBURN.
Merik: He is a very cool guy. Merik is unlike any other prince that I have ever read about. Most of the time, the characters I read about spend most of their time talking about what they’re going to do to help their peoples’ situation, but Merik actually does something about it. He does what is best for the greater good and sacrifices so much for his crew out at sea. I loved his relationship with Kullen. It showed me an excellent example of a relationship as strong as Safiya and Iseult’s. I do wish that we got to see more from them together but that’s not going to happen because Kullen is dead. I think that his Windwitch powers are super cool and are appropriately useful because of his situation out at sea. I think the one thing I don’t like about him is how fast he became obsessed with Safiya. To me, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about their relationship. I thought it was kind of absurd after the one dance that they shared, he was hooked. And by less than a week, they kissed already. Now, I’m not saying that there should be a schedule as to when people should or shouldn’t kiss, but everything moved pretty fast between them. I do admire their back and forth retorts towards each other and I liked reading about their tension, but I just wish that they kept that tension running on just a little longer into the next few books rather than ending three quarters of the way into the book. I also respected how he put Safi in her place when she was trying to get the healer for Iseult. She put everyone in danger and that just wasn’t okay. Although he was very firm in his punishment, I feel like it helped Safi grow a little bit. I think that is all I can say about Merik. Out of the main four, he is my least favourite.
Aeduan: Oh my goodness. Aeduan is my second favourite character, so closely behind Iseult. He struggles between doing what’s right and what his father wants him to do. But above anything else, he is loyal only to money. When he has a job to do, he finishes it quickly, precisely, and without any unnecessary killing of innocent people. So yes, he is a monster, but he isn’t the worst person out there. Aeduan has an interesting moral code. He also believes in life debts and repaying them. I loved how he saved his mentor, Evrane with such urgency; he really cares for her even if he says that he is “just settling life debts”. I seriously thought she was going to die but thanks to his scary, cool powers, she lives. His powers reminded me of bloodbending in Avatar and Heartrenders in the Grisha Trilogy/ Six of Crows Duology. Bloodwitches are so scary and are very hard to kill. I adore how he repaid his “debt” to Iseult by getting her to safety during the crazy Cleaving attack. I really want to know where his story will take us. I want to know if Safi and Iz are the prophesied Cahr Awen. So far, it is pretty obvious that they are, but if it is true, then that means Aeduan has to be their protector. I am so excited. His connections to his dad in the other land will for sure come into play in later books. I just want to know more about him.
Discussion things in question
- Connections between Iseult – Puppeteer – Aeduan’s dad – Aeduan
- More background with side characters (Leopold, Evrane, etc)
- What Safi is going to do with the Queen
- Merik’s country after his trade agreements with Safiya’s uncle
- What the hell cleaving is (seriously though, what?)
**Spoiler Section Over**
All in all, this book was an exciting read to pass the time. I hope that the issues in this book get resolved and improve in the next one. As always, thank you for reading and I’ll see you in the next post!