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Friday, February 12, 2016

"Truthwitch: Witchlands Novel 1" by Susan Dennard (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

 Visit Susan Dennard's Website Here

OVERVIEW: 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.

FORMAT: Truthwitch is a YA high fantasy/adventure novel. It is the first novel in a proposed series of books titled Witchland. It stands at 416 pages and was published on January 5, 2016 by Tor Teen.  

ANALYSIS: Truthwitch was a highly hyped, almost to the point of being classified as overhyped, YA fantasy novel that was to be released right as the new year rolled in. It was being compared by promoters and individuals to the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – who just so happens to be a good friend of the author of Truthwitch.

Being a fan of Throne of Glass, I was curious to see how Truthwitch turned out. Does it live up to the hype or will it turn out to be another overly hyped up novel that falls flat? After completing Truthwitch, I can say that in some aspects – yes it does live up to the hype. However, there are certain areas within the book that could be worked on and improved.

Truthwitch for fans of Throne of Glass will be an absolute amazing hit. It is adventurous, has extremely strong – and sometimes aggravating – main heroines, and the magic system (which sort of reminded me of something similar to The Last Airbender) is absolutely amazing. That doesn't mean it isn't without its flaws.

Truthwitch started out relatively slow. There was an annoying habit of talking about places, people, and even parts of the magic system, as if we the readers should know what was going on. Upon the start of the novel, I had to look up whether this was in fact a first novel in a series because I felt confused and a bit lost. Eventually, I decided to just continue to read and see how it turned out. When I did this, I realized that things slowly start to unravel and make sense.

Unfortunately, the confused and rather dropped in feeling readers may have at the beginning of the book might be enough to turn people away. While it is great to unravel and reveal things throughout a story, if readers are unable to connect and understand what is going on, it might cause people to stop reading. Things do work out in the end, but this was one of the problems with Truthwitch.

Another problem with Truthwitch was the plot. Ultimately, the entire novel chronicles the adventurous journey of Safi and Iseult as they are running away. Yes, there are other elements thrown in – warring territories, evil kings/emperors, romance, and a bloodwitch – thrown in, but those elements aren't really fleshed out. If you are looking for a fleshed out three-dimensional story, Truthwitch is probably not going to be for you.

For example, there is a long standing truce that has been struck between the many different territories. This truce prohibits people from harming and hurting each other and brought peace to the world during a time of war. That truce is now almost up and war is on the horizon. That is really all that is given. If you are wondering why the truce might not be resigned or what this big war is on the horizon, you aren't going to find out – at least not in this book maybe it'll be explored in the other novels.

Of course because this big war is coming up or possibly coming up, it means that people are in need of a rare truthwitch – which is what Safi is and happens to be the only one in the territory. Unfortunately, because there was no real explanation for why the war was coming up or what was going on, it made it hard to understand why all the nations were fighting to get their hands on a truthwitch. It sort of makes sense at the end of the book, but even then if you try to dive deep into it there aren't really answers to some of the questions that many people might have.

I found myself constantly asking multiple questions in an effort to understand some of the reasons why certain things or events were happening in the novel. Unfortunately, I never got answers. I don't expect all my questions to be answered in a single novel, but it was a bit frustrating to walk away with thousands more questions than answers.

Even though there were some definite drawbacks to Truthwitch, it doesn't mean it was a horrible book. There are plenty of elements that made it a pleasant novel and will make it a top 2016 novel for some people.

One of the strongest parts of Truthwitch was the amazing bond between the two main characters. Safi and Iseult are best friends forever, which in the Witchlands is considered Threadsisters. They would do anything for each other and each one watches the other's back. They are polar opposites to each other, but somehow they complement each other and make their characters almost lift off the page.

I found it refreshing to see such a strong bond between two female lead characters. All too often it is easy to make females fight amongst each other, and yes our characters do squabble and argue occasionally, but it was amazing to see their relationship portrayed so well. It was their friendship that really made me continue to read the novel until the end.

Overall, I will say that Truthwitch is a great start to what will be a promising series. It certain had a few hiccups along the way, but nothing that can't be worked out or eventually overcome as more novels are released.

If you weren't a fan of Throne of Glass – the sappy romance, following a sometimes frustrating and naive main character, and the obvious YA tropes thrown in – then Truthwitch is certainly not the book for you. Those who loved Throne of Glass will love Truthwitch and be relieved to have another amazing series to follow.

I personally will still follow this series. While it might not be one of my top novels for 2016 – it is still too early to tell – it had enough going for it that I would love to return to the world and characters.


Unknown said...

I hated Throne of Glass, but really liked this one. I'll be continuing with the series as well

Cindy said...

I enjoyed Throne of Glass, I didn't love it but I found it enjoyable. I do wish it had a little less.... flashy princess/fashion vibe to it (Throne of Glass that is). If it cut back the 'ohhh flashy dress is so pretty', it probably would have been wonderful.

Truthwitch has amazing potential. I can't wait to see how it turns out after all the confusion and world building clears up. I think once the magic system is established and the world created, it will really be an awesome series.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

There have been a few books that sounded great at hearing about them, but they over sold them in social media. If they put half the effort they put into these books into others, they'd make more sales of them all. But, any way.

This on does sound good. Glad to here it was a good read. :)


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