Witch King

eBook, 432 pages

English language

Published May 30, 2023 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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4 stars (8 reviews)

Kai-Enna is the Witch King, though he hasn’t always been, and he hasn’t even always been Kai-Enna!

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai’s magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well.

But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence?

Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions.

He’s not going to like the answers.

Witch King is a rousing tale of power and friendship, of trust and betrayal, and of the families we choose.

2 editions

Murder Demon

4 stars

The only other books by Martha Wells that I've read are the Murderbot Diaries, so it's pretty hard for me not to view it through that lens.

Which is unfair on the book, because it is entirely its own thing.

But also carries a lot of Murderbot DNA.

There's the conversational style, the same exasperated, hyper-confident protagonist with a prickly exterior but a heart of gold...

But Kai is also more openly vulnerable, more open with his friends and much more DTF.

Plot-wise it suffers from the same issues I have with the MBDs. The overarching story wasn't compelling, I don't really understand the stakes or the politics, at least not for the bulk of the book. So it was hard to get invested. But it doesn't matter because the whole thing is really just a framework to hang the individual set pieces on and, man, Wells is amazing on …

Fantastic world-building, echoes of trauma

4 stars

I adored how wide the world felt and how much was hinted at by the various, subtly interacting magic systems at play. I feel like there are so many nooks and crannies to be explored around the main storyline of this book that it feels like a nearly inexhaustible mine. More, please!

The narrative structure jumps from the present to the past, each giving context to the other and its people -- literally showing you why the characters act the way they do, showing how the current situation came to be, giving you a real sense of time and consequence. I loved it.

And, as I've come to expect from Martha Wells, her depictions of trauma responses feel on-point and real. How everyone reacts to their own ghastly experiences and how it drives them are on full display and are very sympathetic.

So: great world-building. Fun characters and relationships. A …

Complex, Elaborate World Building

4 stars

This was a very nice read and astonishingly complex world building for a single volume. My main issue with the book was that I needed the first half to figure out what was going on and then spent the second half to remember all the intricate details of the world Martha Wells created. I would definitely read another book from the same universe.

Needlessly ambitious in scope, but an intriguing main character

2 stars

Overall, this was a decent book, though I approached it with expectations that were unreasonably high. On it's own, it's an interesting story and sets the stage for an interesting setting that could lead to further adventures. It does feel like you're coming in right in between the action so I felt a little lost as to what was possible and who the characters were, which I think is my biggest problem with the book- there is a lot to absorb, but we're only given tidbits in the interest of keeping the plot moving.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2023/06/book-review-witch-king-by-martha-wells.html

Densely packed, unique world building with an exciting storyline that drives the narrative more than the characters do.

No rating

I initially was a little intimidated when I opened the book and was greeted with a list of names and titles from a world I didn't understand, but the characters are all described as they're introduced, such that I didn't ever need to page back to the list, so I worried for nothing. Martha Wells does an incredible job of fitting a lot of world building into a small space, doling out lore as necessary in a way that still sparks the imagination. And what a world it is! Layers of culture, powers, politics, and history unfold in two separate timelines with a scope that feels like a big adventure. Kai is a fun mix of snarky and competent, with other characters distinct, but not given quite as much attention. Overall, characters and their arcs to take a bit of a backseat to the plot and its mysteries. While this …

avatar for roytoo@ramblingreaders.org

rated it

5 stars