Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands, #1
Pages: 416
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: January 5th 2016

       “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.”

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“Safi unfurled from her flip and withdrew her sword just as Iseult’s moon scythes clinked free. Far behind them, more explosions thundered out. Shouts rose up, the horses kicked and whinnied.”

Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch is action-packed fantasy with a strong friendship at its center. Dennard’s world is full of magic and mayhem, but is in need of a lot of exposition by its characters which often feels like readers are forced to play catch up. The novel is full of a lot of unfamiliar terms and a complicated system of witchery that made me wish I had a glossary to reference back to while reading. There are political games between leaders who we learn little about, prejudices against people that we are asked to accept without proper historical context, and different Empires all with different needs that we aren’t privy to as the characters spend most of the novel on a ship. While I will say some of the elements in the story were not fully explained, by the time I finished the novel, I felt that I had a much better grasp on the Witchlands world and cannot wait to explore it more.

Truthwitch‘s strength is its two leads, Safi and Iseult, and the powerful relationship between these two independent young women. Safi is ruled by her emotions, which often makes her impetuous and temperamental. At the beginning of the novel, Safi is a girl running away from a life she doesn’t want with a powerful witchery that can enslave her to anyone who gets their hands on her. She finds a companion in Iseult, a Threadwitch, running away from her own life. Iseult grew up in a strict upbringing that taught her to value control over emotion. Her people, the Nomatsi, are reviled throughout the Witchlands, but Iseult’s inability to perform all the magic a Threadwitch is called to has ostracized her from her own people. Her friendship with Safi is a saving grace for both of them; they compliment one another and are at their best when fighting for each other.

Truthwitch has some great secondary characters. While I consider Safi and Iseult to be the two main leads, Prince Merik of Nubrevna and the Bloodwitch Aeduan play important roles. Merik’s actions are motivated by his desire to save his people. He is uncompromising in his ethics despite having people in his life like his sister, who would rather take the easy route. He becomes an example of what Safi could be if she chooses to accept the role she was born to. Aeduan is ruthless, powerful, and truly ambiguous. I’m still unsure if he can be considered a villain or an antihero as his actions are those of both, but I’m very interested in finding out more regardless.

While hype initially scared me off from reading Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch right away, it’s a highly enjoyable fantasy novel with great characters and an inspiring female friendship.

Rating: 4/5


24 thoughts on “Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

  1. I’m eager to read this one though I was a little wary when I saw all five star reviews for the first week or so of it being released. Now that more four stars and three stars are coming out I’m not really worried about over-hyping it in my head and ruining it for myself like I’ve done for so many other books. Great review!


  2. I’m only halfway through Truthwitch right now. I’m holding off on reading all reviews. I’m so easily swayed. I fear I will agree with everything you say, my dearest Wordwitchery. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hurray! I get to finally read your review. In large part, I’m glad our views align. Indeed, it would have been really helpful if there was a glossary of sort to help readers get more grounded in this new world. But, I loved the Witchland and it’s plethora of magics. I also really enjoyed the male characters–Merik and Aeduan. Aeduan is a bit of a mystery in so many ways. I secretly think he falls in the anti-hero camp. =) I harder a harder time loving the female protagonists. Safi and Iseult are flawed, which I normally enjoy, but this time it didn’t work out as well for me. I love your insight on how the story moved forward too vaguely where the reader had to fill in gaps. I felt that way, too. Great review, Alicia!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw Susan Dennard at a signing last month, and it’s interesting that you mention you felt as though you had to play catch up with some parts, as she said one of the hardest parts of writing high fantasy is balancing how much to explain to readers explicitly vs. letting the story tell itself. Glad you had an overall good experience with it though! I haven’t started my copy yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, there are some authors who just excell at it and others that eventually find the right balance. Sarah J. Mass, for example, her world-building has improved with time, so I’m sure Susan Dennard will also get the hang of it. I did enjoy it very much, I hope you do as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve really been looking forward to this one, but it sounds so complicated with all the stuff going on. It seems like something that would demand full attention while reading so you don’t miss out on anything vital to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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