Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (YA, Fantasy)

Series: The Witchlands # 1
Format: Hardcover, 416 pages
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

Truthwitch is the first installment in Susan Dennard's The Witchlands series. Dennard features two main characters who are female (Safiya fon Hasstrel & Iseult det Midenzi), and two male characters (Prince Merik Nihar and Bloodwitch Aeduan) who are important cogs to what happens to the girls in this story. As the story begins, The Witchlands is under the cloud of a 20 year peace treaty that saw larger countries gobbling up smaller ones but brought peace to the Witchlands. A treaty that can be destroyed with one wrong move or an aggression against another country.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, or one who has the ability to separate truth from lies. She is a rarity in that she is the last of her kind and the first to be born in over a century which makes her valuable as a political tool. Sofi was born as part of the nobility, but ended up as an orphan. She's spent more time with her Threadsister, Iseult det Midenzi who is her best friend and sister to the end, than the rich snobs of the nobility who would bleed their constituents dry if they could. 

Safiya as a Domna of Cartorra, is far from the perfect candidate. Right out of the gate she puts Iseult's life and hers in jeopardy by falling into a trap, and from there on out, they end up having to avoid a certain Bloodwitch who is hot on their tales, a King who wants her as his betrothed, and an Empress who would go to war to capture the only living Truthwitch. Thankfully, Safi is trained in combat, and sword play, and isn't afraid of using her skills to save herself and Iseult. 

Iseult is a Nomatsi Threadwitch and the underdog in this series. She can see the binding threads of all those around her and can sense how people are feeling. She also sticks out like a sore thumb because of her hair and skin color. Yes, my dear readers, this would be considered racism at it's finest, and I am glad that Dennard didn't shy away from adding it into this story. I adore Iseult because she is less the special snow flake than Sofi, and is a true badass. She follows Sofi not because she has to, but because that is what friends/sisters/best friends do for each other. I found her connecting to the Bloodwitch rather interesting, and wonder if that is the direction that Dennard intends on going towards. 

Prince Merik is out to prove himself to his father and sister who is the heir to the crown of Nubrevina. He desires a contract with anyone who has what Merik's country desperately needs; Food and allies. Merik is a Windwitch, Captain of the Ship that helps Safi and Iseult escape capture, and the supposed admiral of the fleet. I like that Merik isn't like his sister or father. He honestly wants whats best for his country and his people. He desires peace, but isn't afraid to stand up to those who try to destroy his people. This relationship with Safi is something to be talked about. I loved their dance. There is a whole lot of angst, but that is because Safi is a bit strong willed, and strong tempered. 

Aeduan, the Bloodwitch, isn't necessarily the bad guy in this story, but he is almost relentless in his mission to find Safi, and bring her back to his master. He is a Carawen mercenary who is as mysterious as he is complicated. I have a whole lot of thoughts about his apparent relationship with Iseult, but will see what happens in the sequel. There is more to Aeduan than meets the eye as was apparent in his confrontations with the girls, and another Carawen witch named Evrane.

Truthwitch is a fairly quick paced story that has plenty of intrigue, action, romance, suspense, and mysteries. I did struggle a bit with the world building and would desire more explanation from Dennard about the world, the various wells based on elements like Air, Water, Earth, Aether, and Fire. I do appreciate that we get a plethora of various witches like Airwitch, Poisonwitch, Wordwitch, Ironwitch, and Aetherwitches. I am eager to find out more about the so called Cahr Awen that Evrane was so awed over. The ending left me numb, but eager to read the next installment to see what happens next to the girls. 

Next Installment: Windwitch (The Witchlands # 2)


  1. You lucky biotch! I want to read this so so bad!!!

  2. I've been reading this one for a while now and I'm finding it really hard to get into it! I'm only on chapter 5 and switched to the audiobook to see if I would be more interested that way, but the accents the narrator uses are really weird haha. Hopefully I'll be more interested in this one after a few more chapters - I'm glad you enjoyed it!