Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
By: Susan Dennard
Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Tor.com reading club
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.
I downloaded this book as part of Tor.com’s First Reads Book Club a few months ago. I had seen this book in passing in the past but reading the premise of the book this time around I was curious and decided to check it out.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the book for the first few chapters but once Safiya was back at Court and all the intrigue, politics, and power moves started happening I was definitely curious. The world-building, especially in the early half of the novel, reminded me of the Italian city-states with some of the names lol–I guess that’s the influence for this story–but the further out the characters go, the wholly different the world becomes. The magic system–of the different kinds of witches and the wells of their abilities’ origins–was really interesting to read about. The Cursewitch/Voidwitch was especially eerie–I’m curious to know more about the Puppeteer, which I guess will lie in future installments of the series–and oddly enough I wanted to see more of Safiya’s power. It’d be especially useful in Court and I can see why so many factions would be interested in her abilities.
I thought I wasn’t going to dig the act that the story was set on a ship for a chunk of the plot but it did move the story along quite nicely. I liked all of the characters, actually, they each had their own struggles and concerns and you could see where and how the characters would indeed clash with their conflicting goals. Minus what I felt was a bit of a slow start, the story moved at a good pace, there weren’t very many dull moments (always a good thing). The novel also ended rather open-ended enough to continue but the present story was also contained just enough by the last page.
Overall I enjoyed reading Truthwitch. I would read the sequels if I had the time and happened to come across them, the world and the magic systems were interesting as were the characters.