Truthwitch is the first book in the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. This book came with high praise from Fantasy writers I respect such as Sarah J.Maas and Robin Hobb, and so I started on it with very high expectations.

About the Book

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.

~ Synopsis from goodreads

So, I dove into this book with high expectations. And this book really delivered!

Unlike most Fantasy books that start off slow with the world-building, this book just dumps the reader right into the heart of the action. It starts with the two heroines Safiya and Iseult holding up a carriage, then in the next couple of pages, everything goes belly up, and the rest of the book deals with their adventures on the run. So, yes, when you read this book, expect non-stop action from the get-go.

There is some time for character building and political intrigue. But that’s all in between the adventures. Honestly, when I started the book, it was a little disorienting having so much action without any background history or introduction.

For quite a while into the book, all we know is that a 20-year old truce the different kingdoms in Witchlands is coming to a close, war is expected, and somehow the two heroines are going to play an important role. And as per Fantasy norms, we are handed off a map so that we understand how all the kingdoms are related to each other.

The Witchlands

The Witchlands – that kinda looks like Europe

Thankfully, the lack of detail did not hinder me from enjoying this book. I loved the book for its fast-pace, and read it breathlessly all the way through.

I also loved the characters in the book. Safiya and Iseult are best friends who always watch out for each other (think Thelma and Louise in a Fantasy setting). It’s not often that I read books (especially Fantasy) with two strong female characters, and I really liked the feminist vibes in this one. The men in the book – Merik, Aeduan, and the others are also interesting – strong, but not particularly macho. This is one of those books without any misogyny.

Overall, I thought it was a strong start to an interesting sounding series. It’s great that there are so many woman writers out there now doing Fantasy and giving it a different spin from the standard books in the genre. Now after finishing with Truthwitch, I can’t wait to get started on Windwitch – the second book in this series.

Huge thanks to PanMacmillan India for sending me this book for review consideration.

You can also buy a copy of this book from Amazon.

  • This sounds good! And that DOES look like Europe. Kind of reminds me of some of Guy Gavriel Kay’s books which were set in thinly veiled versions of Spain, France, and Italy. The one in the version of Italy (“Tigana”) even had the country being shaped like a glove instead of a boot!

    • Nishita

      @jamesviscosi:disqus In Truthwitch, I didn’t really see any similarities between actual events in Europe and what went on in the novel. Maybe, a little bit about how gypsies were treated, but other than that, it’s just the map that looks similar.

      Just looked up Guy Gavriel Kay on goodreads, and his books sound very interesting.

  • Yayy, this sounds so fun! Memory, who blogs at In the Forest of Stories, always raves about this book, and I didn’t know the sequel was out. Is it the second of three, or is the second book the last one? I like reading serieses in full when I can.

    • Nishita

      @readingtheend:disqus I think it would be the second of three. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the series actually runs more than three books. For all the action and adventure in the book, it feels like there is a lot of story still left to be told.

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