Publisher: Tor Publishing
Page Count: 432
Release Date: May 30, 2023
*I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!*
CW: war, violence, death, slight body horror, torture, confinement
I, like many others, am a fan of Martha Wells because of her wildly popular novella-series the Murderbot Diaries. She always manages to create multi-faceted characters within a rich world-setting that you just want to know more about, so I was really excited to check out her latest Fantasy release – Witch King.
The book started out with such a BANG! There was action, the promise of intricate relationships and a hint at betrayal in the past. I was ready to jump in, but the longer the story went on, the less I found myself invested in the plot. To me, it felt like we were introduced to Game of Thrones-level political scheming, but without the necessary time to really get acquainted to the world and understand the mechanics and connections. Granted, there is a list of notable characters provided at the very beginning of the book, but I still struggled a bit with distinguishing the territories and abilities/power people held.
Told in the Past and the Present, I appreciated the many parallels that could be drawn between current events and what had already transpired. Sometimes certain chapter endings were meant to lead you astray and make you doubt characters, which I thought was a fun element of the dual timeline, but it didn’t always work out perfectly. Certain reveals just didn’t hit right, because we e.g. already knew what someone was capable of in the present.
Also, the final reveal was just not shocking or as satisfying as I would have hoped with the build up. The “betrayal” had been built up the entire time, just to not feel as weighty and personal as I had expected.
What I will absolutely give credit to is the found family aspect of the story and the lovable characters. I almost wished we just got more scenes of them hanging out and interacting rather than chases around the world in search of items and people alike. They had such fun dynamics and I would have loved to see even more of the initial “getting to know”-stages of their relationships.
The way the characters were portrayed also really normalized different gender and queer identities and I enjoyed that aspect quite a bit.
Fazit: 3.25/5 stars! An interesting world that unfortunately didn’t quite light the spark in me.