Hi All and welcome back to the blog!
Edition Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published on January 5th 2016 by Tor Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy
A solid and addicting start on this new series, with strong female protagonists and some extremely interesting and promising witchery system
Aka 3.75 out of 5 (5 being the “awesome” score!)
I have to confess that I had mix feelings about this book. I could not stop reading it since the writing is good and flows really well, not to mention that I really wanted to know how the story went. Yet, I was absolutely clear so to what did not convince me about the book and the book kept hitting those points.
I also have to disclose that I have been reading this book between epic and high fantasy books – I can probably say that my expectations might have started as an epic fantasy book but this is a YA fantasy and I should have switched gears; provided that I also had very pleasant experiences with other authors in YA fantasy. But this is neither here nor there, it is a discussion for another time!
So, let’s delve into it!
Plot and world building. The plot was not bad at all; I was expecting a less “twisted” story line, but I was pleased to read some turns here and there which was certainly a positive! The world building though it is quite limited and, honestly, I do not know whether this choice is intentional. The whole story is based on the world being at the brink of a new war among kingdoms, since the 20-year peace treaty is about to expire. It would also appear that very few of these reigns is doing anything to stop the conflict from happening. The story of the first book, though, focuses on the two main characters, Safiya and Iseult, their friendship and their adventure. I am therefore hopeful that the first book was required to make the readers knowledgeable of the main characters of the book to have a second book (and following ones) focusing more on the political intrigue, also because Safiya is a truthwitch (below I will provide more information about what that is, in case you need more explanation). To conclude the reasoning: Why would emperors and empresses go a long way to try to secure a truthwitch at their side, if not to gain an edge on the other reigns? Which makes me hopeful that the answer is: Because the next book is just around political intrigue! Yes, I know, I have been going around the same concept for a while – and yes, I know, I cannot even change the book yet since the second book of the series will be out in January 2017. But I can still hope and hope shall live.
The witchery – as it is called in the book – is quite interesting but it is not fully explained; it is not set in an understandable structure, so it ends being a lot of cool type of witches (Bloodwitch, Treadwitch, Truthwitch, Windwitch, etc) but it does not explain much about how the witchery is managed in this world and how it interacts with the muggles of this world. Yet, I am hopeful for book 2, I am really praying this book will provide me with the structural explanation I am looking for!
Characters. The book clearly founds itself on two main characters, Safiya, noble origins and a misfit, and Iseult, which is a reject of society because of her skin (better, because of her heritage being a Nomatsi). The two of them, I would say, are based on an almost literal representation of yin and yang, one being blond and the other brunette.
Safiya is a noble born, spoiled (maybe it is my superficial approach to her), reckless and self-centered until the last chapters of the book in which she finally makes a sacrifice having in mind only the benefit of others. Said all of the above, she still seemed a very flat character. It did not help the fact that she is a Truthwitch, an extremely rare witch, one that happens every 100 years, who can tell, surprise surprise, truth from lie. And it does not help the fact that several people need her abilities which is one of the friction point in the plot for me: Why would be a person who can tell truth from lie, which is obviously handy to have, be more important than a person who can bend the wind to one’s will, especially when you are on the brink of war with all other reigns? It might be me, I might be having the wrong (better, different) perspective, but I cannot see why a truthwitch would be worth so much attention. Yet, it is the premise of the whole book, so I tried not to think about it is such a negative connotation. As for Safiya, I have to concede some smiling in her early interaction with prince and admiral Merik – another character that seemed so predictable and flat although he can fly (which really is a great plus!).
The only character I brought myself to care somewhat about is Iseult. I actually got annoyed as Safiya because she kept endangering the person she calls her dear friend. Iseult, in my opinion, is a more interesting character, not only for her heritage – I really like the pages dedicated to her interaction with her village – but also because there is no much mystery around her and the reasons for the attempts on her life AND, most importantly, her relationship with the Puppeteer.
Closely link to that, is the Bloodwitch Aeduan. He is pretty much the trigger for the protagonists to escape the city, he is the villain throughout the book. But is he really? Or is the villain going to be his father, this mysterious person who is not named (yet, I suspect he is Corlant, the man who terrified Iseult’s mother and apprentice). He is a little less flat – primarily because he is the bad guy but not really – and today I realized I would love for an Aeduan and Iseult to get to know each other and, who knows, possibly become a couple!
And I could go on and on the characters but I will leave the characters section with this hope for the best character yet: I am really expecting Vaness to be the best character she can possibly be, convincing, fierce, strong, ruler and whatever else she needs to be. I just hope to be blown away by her!
Navy/Pirates. Yes, this book has this amazing aspect exploited and I loved it! It might have been one of the best parts of the whole book and I was ecstatic to read about ships, battles, admirals, pirates and fights on the sea! This part of the book really hooked me even more than the first part of the story!
Friendship. Now, this is going to be controversial. All the reviews I heard/read about this book really focus on how amazing the friendship between Safiya and Iseult is. But is it? I really felt that for most of the book it was a one-side friendship in which one would give it all and the other would suffer because of the decisions of the other. On the other side, how dependent on each other the characters are? Truth to be told (truthwitchery?!?), both of them are more than able to handle anything being thrown at them on their own, yet they continuously think that they lack the abilities of the other and therefore are less than a whole. Really? Now, my skepticism made me question my humanity: Am I so cynical I cannot see beautiful things? I still cannot answer the question on my own but I think that in my early twenties I really wanted to have a friend as close as these two are. So maybe I will be less cynic about the relationship and think how beautiful the rainbows are – after all, this is also meant to be a beautiful place to squat!
Did you read Truthwitch? Did you like it? What other aspects of this book you liked? What parts, if any, of the book left you puzzled or disappointed?