TITLE: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
AUTHOR: Susan Dennard
RELEASE DATE: January 5th 2016
AUTHOR: Susan Dennard
RELEASE DATE: January 5th 2016
“On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.”
I had one goal when I attended Book Expo America 2015, ONE GOAL: Truthwitch.
I begged the book gods to take pity on a poor fantasy lover, to let her snag a copy and meet Susan Dennard. If I only came home with that one book, then it didn't matter what else happened that BEAcation, I would have had an awesome time.
In case you are wondering, the sacrifice required to beg the book gods to take pity on you is suffering through a killer, light sensitive, high pressured migraine from Mount Doom in the middle of a claustrophobic BookCon induced meltdown.
But this book was worth it guys.
It was worth sitting on the Javits floor because I couldn't bare to stand, it was worth sprinting down the streets of NYC because I couldn't bare to wait an hour in Grand Central for the next train, and it was worth reading the book many, many moons before publication all the while knowing book two would be that much further away from me.
When Truthwitch started, you were dropped into this fascinating world.
This is a fantasy novel and there is a whole new lingo to learn, so keep that in mind if you are not typically a fantasy reader. Personally I did not have a problem catching on, and even managed to pronounce a few of the names correctly my first try.
That never happens to me with fantasy books. Heck, I fail with pronunciation in most contemporary novels.
"Initiate. Complete. It was how the girls fought. How they lived." (ARC pg 17)
The world was amazing.
It was full of magic, danger, and intrigue. Each type of witchery/magic (Truthwitch, Windwitch, etc.) fell into one of the following categories: Aether, Air, Fire, Earth, Water, or Void. Anything from simple thread weaving skills to full blown hurricane inducing capabilities. There were so many fun possibilities, I found myself imagining which power(s) I would want for myself and what I would do with them in their world. Probably get myself killed at a young age.
But as powerful as the magic users were, they were not necessarily at the top of the food chain. They were required be branded with a mark dictating which power they had. If you were caught and were unmarked, you faced some serious consequences.
I fell in love with the characters with one glance.
Safiya (now to only be referred to as Safi because we are such besties) was a Truthwitch, a powerful individual who can read the level of truth in a person's speech or actions. She was also unmarked, and had spent her life hiding her secret from the world, trusting only a handful of people.
Safi was also curious, impulsive, and reckless, with a temper that had gotten her into many unpleasant situations. But she was also exceptionally brave and fiercely protective and loyal. (Is she a Scorpio? Because she could be kin of mine.) So when the book started with her dragging Iseult into one such dangerous scenario, I decided right then and there that I was going to love her character.
If Safi was the fiery headstrong girl, then Iseult was the more reserved, level headed, the brains behind the heists type girl. But she was no nerdy geek, sure she liked her books, but the girl was strong and more than capable of kicking your butt. As a Threadwitch she into people's hearts, and could see how they were connected to each other. Some of the knowledge she learned made me wonder; I'm not sure how I would deal with that power myself.
Iseult was also strong in more than just physical ways.
"Safi had her title to protect her, and Isuelt had her heritage to damn her." (ARC pg60)
Iseult may be on the run from her people, but she cannot escape her past. From her skin to her hair, she does not blend in, and you saw the prejudice towards her people over and over as she moved through the various cultures during the book.
And I really loved how Susan Dennard handled that topic in this book. She made you see Iseult, the real girl inside, and not just her physical trappings. Then she forced you to look past them and grow into a better person yourself. And if you refused, well, just remember Safi was armed and deadly.
Which brings me to the male POVs in the book.
I adored Merik.
Merik was a Windwitch. Now, Air is my favorite element so I knew I was going to love him, but he was an absolutely wonderful, my oh-so-favorite-weakness= a ship's captain. Now I do not know why I love ship captains/pirates in books, but I know why I loved Merik.
Merik was a prince of the not well off country of Nubrevna, and he attended the truce summit in hopes of securing a trading agreement that would help feed his starving nation. Forget what he wanted, he was willing to do whatever needed to be done to get that contract. Unlike his sister, though, he had his limitations. If it came down to his crew or a stranger or his people and the other, you were going down. But there were lines he was not going to cross, and I really liked his set or morals even when I was screaming at him.
And Aeduan, what can I say about Aeduan with out getting myself killed.
Aeduan was Aeduan.
And moving on....
In all seriousness though, I think Aeduan may be my favorite character because I really cannot define him. He was a Bloodwitch, someone who can identify your blood signature and put a bloodhound to shame by tracking you anywhere, and he was a mercenary assassin.
The combo made him absolutely deadly and a wonderful villain, except he was not really a villain, not like the others were anyways. He was no saint, and you'll probably end up dead if you stood in his way. Plus he has ties to even worse things, but it was hard to limit his character to just that one role. Because he does things that made me question how evil and cruel he really was versus the role that his abilities and family put him in. That character conflict was something I really, really loved to poke at while reading this book.
I saw something on twitter about how Aeduan and Manon from Sarah J. Maas' Heir of Fire should meet up....and all I can think of this world is doomed.
Romance wise, this book is full of swoon and more swoon and even more swoon.
Seriously if one risky dance scene doesn't have you shipping a certain couple than there is no hope for you.
Just pack up and sail home.
What can I say to you about the plot that will do this book justice?
Safi and Iseult get in over their heads when a revenge heist goes astray, and they get an unrelenting Bloodwitch determined to capture or kill them on their tail. Add in an upsetting announcement, a forced escape to the seas, mysterious voices, and just about everyone in their world suddenly chasing after the Truthwitch and these girls have too many problems to list.
Truthwitch sets up what promises to be a wonderful series. For everything we learn, ever question about the Witchlands or our heroes that gets answered, dozens more questions take their place. Sometimes -let's be real, most of the time- you feel the enemy knows more than our heroes, but that only heightens the tensions and makes you more empathetic to Safi and Iseult's plight. The girls only wanted to have their own place to live, and as the dangers stack against them, as the reader you are right there with them as they struggle to survive.
"She either ran from her emotions as fast as her legs would carry her or she beat them into submission." (Iseult re: Safiya, ARC pg57.)
"Sometimes justice was all about the small victories." (Aeduan, ARC pg 189)
"She was stuck in this body, with this mind, but it didn't mean she couldn't reach outside. It didn't mean she couldn't change." (Safiya, ARC pg266)
The thrice-damned wait for book two might just kill me, but in the meantime I get to run around using curses like "thrice-damned," "Hell's gates," and "Hell's flames" so I guess it will all be fine.
Seriously, you need to read this book. I really cannot express how much I loved spending time with these characters in this world. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I cried some more....in fact I think it is time for another reread right now.