Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
“The holiest always have the farthest to fall.”
Merik Nihar is dead.
Yes, that's right. Admiral Merik Nihar, the Prince of Nubrevna, the Windwitch with the infamous temper, died in a horrible fashion. Except he did not. Forgotten and broken, physically and emotionally, he crosses the filthy streets of Nubrevna, streets filled with the famished and the poor, he seeks revenge against those who wronged him and lets his wrath guide him, only to discover black tendrils and smoke, and a greater darkness, that is bound to destroy his country once and for all. In the meantime, his sister, Vivia, a ruthless leader and a woman who tries to dominate in a world built for men, fights her own battles. Against the council, against poverty and her own regrets for her crimes.
“Mhe varujta. Trust me as if my soul were yours.”
Iseult det Midenzi, the Threadwitch, is alone. Except she is not. Her best friend, her other half, her Threadsister, is far away, and Iseult is determined to find her and bring her back. In this effort, she will meet an unexpected ally. Aeduan, the former Carawen Monk and Bloodwitch, shoudln't form an alliance with the Threadwitch. After all, he is ordered to capture her. But there is something fragile yet strong about her, and they'll find themselves fighting savage pirates and monsters. Together, they'll discover Iseult's true nature. And that will terrify and fascinate them.
“Oh, I know!" Safi clapped her hands, delighted by her own genius. "I shall call you Un-empressed."
"Please," Vaness said coldly, "stop this immediately."
Safi absolutely did not.”
Safiya fon Hasstrel, the precious Truthwitch, is captive. Except she is not. After a shipwreck and an explosion, she and the Empress of Marstok cross paths with the Hellbards (witch-hunters), who are ordered to deliver them to Safi's worst nightmare. But there is something sinister brewing in the Witchlands. A war that seems unavoidable, and a fight for power and glory that makes the lines between friend and foe blurry. And maybe, just maybe, the two Threadsisters are the mythical Car Awen, the heroines that are destined to heal this broken land. If they don't get killed in the process.
One word that sums up perfectly the explosive plotline of Windwitch. There was not a sigle moment of boredom or reprieve from action, Susan Dennard is established for me as an excellent and resourceful fantasy author. Lush and brutal descriptions, three-dimensional characters, masterfully crafted battle sequences, intricate and rich worldbuilding, all of them constitute a solid and utterly beguiling novel. Susan Dennard is an enchantress. One moment you were sitting in the bus, with fatigue closing your eyelids, but once you opened the pages of Windwitch you were transported in bloody battlefields, pirates' lairs and undercover caves, crowded streets and tropical forests. Even though most of the main characters were separated, all of their arcs were complete and well-crafted, portraying their weaknesses but also their strengths.
Windwitch focused on Merik, and showed a darker side of him. Abandoned and presumed dead, with Cam as his sole companion, he witnessed the true state of his city, and tried to fight injustice as the Fury, a merciless god. It is no secret that I am madly in love with him, but I can't shy away from the arrogance that sometimes blinded him, nor his wrath that seemed a little off. Of course, with that excellent twist we got the explanations for his behaviour, and eventually I felt proud of the way he grew up and realised his mistakes.
A character I didn't expect I'd love was Vivia (aka Yara Greyjoy). You could feel the irony when the exact same thoughts crossed both her and Merik's minds regarding the welfare of their country, even though they held each other accountable for everything that went wrong in their lives. Their relationship was full of jealousy and misunderstandings, and I was frantic for it to heal, because together they could achieve greatness.
“It is always easier to blame gods or legends than it is to face our own mistakes.”
The Iseult/Aeduan partnership was an unexpected treat. Besides the romantic relationship that is slowly blooming, watching them interact, fight and discover each other was enthralling. Iseult is a strong and competent heroine, the one always on the backround who suddenly makes some devastating discoveries about herself, and even though embracing them was hard, she did not cower. Aeduan on the other side, except his pragmatistic and murderous self, he also showed a vulnerability that made him more humaine, and I loved being inside his head.
And finally Safi. Her attitude was entertaining as ever, and her snarky comments kept making me snicker. Badass and reckless, always looking for trouble, Safi was an oasis that made you breath easier, and I'm curious about the way her storyline will evolve.
“Share the glory, share the blame.”
The only thing missing, and the reason I gave Windwitch 4 stars, is the absence of the dynamics of Truthwitch. The friendship between Safi and Iseult was always present, but I would love it if they had some scenes together, to witness once more the way they complete each other. And the lack of scenes between Merik and Safi? I was so disappointed. Their relationship, the tension that set you aflame was one of the features that made Truthwitch one of my favorite books, and I'm desperate to see more of them together. Do you hear me, Susan?
All in all, Windwitch was a great sequel, one that delivered a wonderful blend of magic, war and friendship! Do give it a try!