I’m a big fan of Wells’s “Murderbot” series so I wanted to give her new fantasy book a try! But I went in knowing that “Witch King” is nothing like the Murderbot novellas, and I didn’t expect it to be, either. These are all new characters in a world very different then what I was used to, so of course I didn’t go in expecting the same humor and voice that I get with Murderbot. I think a lot of people kind of forget or don’t realize that when starting this book… Which is a dual timeline of our main character, a demon named Kai, and his witch bestie, Ziede as they try to uncover who abducted them, why, and the greater conspiracy around that—all while going back 60 years to see a young Kai as he becomes the demon and Witch King we see in the present chapters. This is a very ambitious fantasy world full of complicated political intrigue and warring factions and races all with their own kind of magical abilities and belief systems. The magic system felt vague from start to finish, however, and I think only one timeline truly delivered on the experience I was hoping for from Wells.
I’m going to start by saying that pretty much everything “big” about this series has been spoiled for me long ago because of how insanely popular this series is, and all the incredible art that gets done for it. That’s no one’s fault but my own because I have no chill about those kinds of things. But, despite nothing really being a mind-blowing surprise, and considering the beast this book is in terms of length, I still DEVOURED it. Really, that should tell you everything you need to know and it’s all I’m really letting myself focus on when it comes to “A Court of Mist and Fury”.
“Temple of Ice” follows Tama, a winter mage on the cusp of becoming an elite warrior alongside her two best friends. In Cura’s world, the land has been punished by their goddess to be forever encased in ice, with an evil goddess threatening to emerge and plunge their world into darkness; and no, the bad goddess is not the same as the one who put this land in a deep freeze. Tama learns to appreciate her friends’ differing talents with ice magic, and also finds love in the arms of a beautiful woman who loves Tama’s wild spirit. But Tama, her friends, and her land are suddenly thrust into violence when a betrayal from within threatens to unleash the dark goddess once and for all. The world concept is very cool (heh) and while I liked the sapphic representation in this book, the story as a whole felt like I was reading a companion novella to an already established world/story.
I was pretty excited to read this one because so many of my friends and mutuals have loved it. Admittedly, I am late to the party (what else is new) but I really loved the premise of this YA utopia turned dystopian. Imagine a world where death and poverty and hunger and disease have all been eradicated. No one wants for anything and, when you get “too old” you can just turn a corner and reset yourself to a younger time. But when death is a thing of the past, and people’s existences become a bit meaningless, population control becomes a big necessity. Hence the creation of the Order of the Scythe, or a modern-day reaper. What they bring is the only true, permanent death, but not everything is as it should be in this order, so leave it up to a couple of teenagers to uncover that, but not for a while. And, once the world building was set up, the book became far too predictable and frustrating for me, which made me wonder, did I read the same book as everyone else?
“Pariah’s Lament” is a fantasy tale full of political intrigue and warfare, but perhaps the most interesting thing about this book is that it is part of a universe that is shared by several other authors all with individual stories to tell. I’ve read books with multiple authors before, and have heard of some romance books that are written by other authors in a shared universe, but this is the first time I came across such a thing in a traditional fantasy novel. We start our journey with a failed assassination attempt on the leader of a country, the Keeper to which one of our main characters is an advisor to. And while they are attempting to figure out who was behind the assassination attempt and all the machinations around that, we also get the story of a young woman, an outcast amongst her village, who is snatched away by an ancient race desperate for her help in preserving what is left of their people. These two groups need each other to survive, even if they don’t realize it until close to half way through the book…
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