In a land ruled by three empires, where people can be born with one of five (really six) witcheries, a twenty-year truce is about to come to an end. Safiya fon Hasstrel, domna of the Cartorran empire, is a truthwitch – able to discern truth from lies, her magic is highly valued, and highly dangerous – for some would kill to have that power at their side (or kill to prevent others from having that power). Together with her best friend and thread sister, Iseult det Midenzi, Safi tries to navigate the political climes she is an unwilling participant in.
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 read (or rather listened to) Truthwitch and Windwitch in quick succession, and find it hard to remember what happened in which book, so I’m reviewing them together. Truthwitch was the better of the two, for one major reason, which was the friendship between Safi and Iseult. Strong female friendships where the women complement each other, understand their own and each other’s strengths and weaknesses, mess up, get into trouble, forgive each other, work together, and kick butt? I am all about that. I’m also all about the fact that Safi and Iseult support each other unquestioningly, even though it leads to some stupid damn consequences, but if these girls were sensible and did everything right, there’d be no interest, drama, or conflict in the books. so there’s that.
The worldbuilding in these books is somewhat lacking – perhaps because I was listening to audiobooks, I found it incredibly difficult to visualise what was going on, and where each empire was, and where the disputed territories were. There also wasn’t any real explanation of what the story was with witcheries until midway through the second book. Essentially, there are six elemental witcheries (earth, air, fire, water, aether, and void), although void witchery has been forgotten and dismissed as legendary. Some people are born with witcheries, but their strength varies. A full water witch, for example, can control water in all its forms, including ice, vapour, rivers, etc, and create it from water vapour in the air, whereas a tidewitch (a lesser water witch) can control the tides (shocker). Witcheries and strengths are innate, not learned, and seem to be related to where you’re from, but not always. Merik, for instance, is a windwitch, whereas his sister Vivia is a tidewitch. Threadwitches are always female, and always from the nomad Nomatsi tribe. So essentially it’s like the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe, but with added Aether and Void elements.
I actually very much enjoyed both of these books, as evidenced by the fact that I finished Truthwitch and immediately downloaded Windwitch. My main complaint at this point is that Bloodwitch isn’t out until 2018!
Although, as I said, there was some sketchy world-building in the beginning, and not enough Safi and Iseult time in the middle/second book, there was still plenty to keep me entertained, with a new OTP for me to fangirl over (Aeduan, the bloodwitch, and Iseult, the threadwitch, have tried to kill each other at least fifty times by now, and I SO ship it (yes, I’m exaggerating)).
I had some other issues with the fact that the two girls are obviously the Chosen Ones, and the romances are discernable from the very beginning, as well as there being a whole host of boring and underdeveloped supporting characters running around in the background in the first book especially.
However, with two more books to go, I’m hopeful that Safi and Iseult will reunite and I’ll be on board with their butt-kicking antics once more. There were plenty of giggling moments as I read/listened to both books, and Dennard can sure write a fight scene, as well as a love/hate relationship that I’m so on board with, so I very much look forward to the third book, Bloodwitch. Not perfect, but very, very enjoyable.
Side note: The audible recording of this that I listened to was incredibly, incredibly slow. Like I’m talking I thought when I turned it on first that I had accidentally set it to 0.5x speed. I lasted all of about four seconds before I sped it up, then sped it up again. I also have no idea how to spell the names of any of the characters, since I’ve only heard them. For the first three hours, I thought Safi was called Sofia, and that Cassandra Campbell was just saying it strangely. But once it’s sped up, there’s plenty of expression, a variety of different accents, and an enjoyable listen overall.
Three Stars for both books.