Truthwitch (The Witchlands, Book 1) by Susan Dennard
Synopsis: 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.
About the Author: Before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series, and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.
Genre: YA, fantasy, magic,
More Info: hardcover, 416 pages, published by Tor Teen on January 5, 2016
Summary – In Truthwitch, readers follow the pov of four main characters: Safi, Iseult, Merik, and Aeduan. Safi and Iseult get into trouble with a Bloodwitch. Safi’s truthwitch powers are discovered so she has to flee a marriage to the Emperor. Iseult comes into trouble with her Nomati people. Merik’s country is devastated and he is desperate for resources to help his people. His sister is against him at every turn. Aeduan is hunting the Truthwitch and the girl without a blood scent. These characters meet and race across sea and land to accomplish their own ends.
Review – The world is so fluidly built and introduced that I felt as if it were real. The fantasy elements were so flawlessly incorporated that they didn’t need extra explanation, and, thankfully, no over-explanation was provided. I can’t wait to see the expansion of this already beautiful but vicious realm. There are various types of witches, threads that connect people, and Origin wells that provide for the realm.
The main drawback for all aspects of the book is missing information. I want more of Safi and Iseult. I want more about the political tension. I need more background. Too much background can significantly drag a story, but I feel that this book is so expansive that I have more questions than answers about the culture, politics, friendships, territories, wars, history, etc..
The plot and characters in this book were also amazing. Dennard focused on the plot at hand in book one, while also hinting and creating tension for other issues in book two. There is a purpose for each mission and the characters act upon the situations to make more chaos. For having multiple third person POVs, the characters are all distinct and developed throughout the book.
Yes to female friendships and girl-power! Safi and Iseult are Threadsisters. They are family. Safi usually gets them into trouble and then Iseult gets them out of trouble. And they always have each others backs. Separation is hard for them, but they promise to find their way back to each other. They might even be the chosen pair (not the chosen one). Whether they are the special Cahr Awen is not defined. And while the twisted trope may be mentioned, it is thankfully not the main plot point of the story.
There is no love triangle. Yay! One is the obvious Safi and Merik. She’s impulsive and he has a temper, what could go wrong? They have an explosive relationship, that builds over time through verbal and physical sparring. There are other pairings to ship, as well. But all romantic relationships are on the back-burner to heighten main plot points/action.
The ending leaves a lot open. While it is a version of a cliffhanger, it doesn’t leave reader’s worried, confused or desperately left on a ledge.
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