A Lavish and Crispy Fantasy: Witch King by Martha Wells

A Lavish and Crispy Fantasy: Witch King by Martha Wells

I have been a Martha Wells fan for the reason that first Murderbot Diaries guide, All Purple Techniques. So in fact I used to be so excited once I heard about Witch King. I do know she’s written numerous fantasy earlier than, however this could be my first enterprise into that facet of her work. Not figuring out what to anticipate, I dove in. Glad to report that I used to be not upset.

Kaiisteron – demon, sorcerer king and prince of the fourth home within the basement – all of the sudden awakens from a curse that has saved him trapped in stasis when a mage weasel makes an attempt to steal Kai’s energy. Throughout his absence, the world has modified. The Rising World Coalition, the Commonwealth of Nations solid within the wake of a bloody revolution that Kai helped lead, is at risk of collapsing. On high of that, Tahren, Ziede’s immensely highly effective spouse, Kai’s closest factor to a greatest good friend, is lacking. The assault on Kai and Ziede, the harmful political machinations and the disappearance of Tahren are all related, however to whom? And why?

With the assistance of two younger folks whose lives they save, a nosy historian and some very reluctant co-conspirators, Kai and Ziede set off throughout the empire, from islands to seas, from coastal ports to remoted fortresses. Their quest takes them to a spot Kai by no means wished to see once more: the palace the place his mortal enemies held him captive, the place the place he was tortured and crushed, the place the place he practically died making an attempt to flee. Somebody is looking them, and the nearer Kai and his companions get to the place all of it started, the better the menace turns into.

The world of Witch King is hearty and crunchy. Wells excels at descriptions, each macro and micro. Grand vistas and ruined cities the colour of embroidery on a costume and the odor of a muddy riverbank. I may think about each element of Kai’s world. I wished to crawl by the pages and stay there. Granted, Wells would not inform the reader a lot about world historical past or the particular occasions that bridge the hole between Kai’s time on the prairies, the abrupt rise and subsequent fall of the Hierarchs, and the rebuilding of the world. left of their wake. . For some readers, not figuring out how, why and what on this world can be an impediment to their enjoyment. For me, nevertheless, it did not hassle me. It would not matter how they acquired to the place they’re; what’s necessary is how they plan to maneuver ahead. We be taught simply sufficient from the previous to make sense of the current and future desires.

The plot is sort of easy: discover out who’s making an attempt to sabotage the fledgling authorities and rescue the lacking lover. The meat of the novel is the journey, not the vacation spot. Kai’s story jumps between the previous—his life with the Saredi, his imprisonment within the courtroom of the Hierarchs, and his escape—and the current, which is his quest by what stays of a once-thriving world. Occasions previously mirror or have an effect on occasions within the current, to the purpose the place why Kai behaves the best way he does within the current (particularly in relation to Tenes and Sanja) is straight associated to his development beneath the affect. of Bashasa. And that performs a serious position in revealing the villain and his motivations.

In some ways, Witch King jogs my memory of the Murderbot Diaries. We did not know a lot concerning the world of Murderbot at first both, simply the little snippets that our grumpy little murderous cyborg deigned to share. Violence runs by each tales, not in a graphic, over-the-top manner, however in a practical, “we stay in a harsh world the place the unhealthy guys do horrible issues.” We’ve got unlikely heroes in each Kai and Murderbot, characters who do not hesitate to harm those that deserve it, particularly when these villains wield their energy over those that are weaker. Wells additionally apparently likes numerous the characters. Every Murderbot entry brings new characters and areas, whereas Witch King has such a big solid that I could not all the time keep in mind who was who. However with each tales, I did not discover that to be an issue. Every character in Witch King offers the reader a glimpse of the huge world that Wells has constructed. All of them come from completely different elements of the empire, geographically, culturally and hierarchically.

Lastly, as with the Murderbot Diaries, Wells is constructing a world the place homosexuality shouldn’t be, nicely, queer, however a standard a part of society. Right here, two of the feminine characters are engaged in a long-term relationship. Kai himself swaps our bodies with out caring about gender presentation or anatomy. At first, he carries a physique that after belonged to a younger lady however continues to be referred to as him. He later feedback {that a} set of depressing mercenaries could also be folks pressured to current themselves as a unique gender from how they really determine. It is a world the place gender and anatomy aren’t intrinsically linked and nobody thinks twice about it.

Wells additionally hints at a relationship between Kai and one other man, although we by no means see the 2 of them act. This can be my asexual and aromantic perspective, however to me it felt like a queerplatonic relationship, one the place there’s a deep connection however not essentially rooted in sexual and/or romantic attraction. Acespec-ness and arospec-ness are so much messier than numerous allos notice, and it appeared fairly on par with how we navigate relationships. Or it may simply be me doing an excessive amount of headcanoning. Anyway, it labored for me.

If it isn’t already blatant, I completely adored Martha Wells Witch King. Based mostly on the ending, she left a door open for a possible sequel, and I might prefer to deposit my $30 now for a replica. I consumed this guide physique and soul. I do not usually proofread books, particularly ones over 400 pages, however I undoubtedly plan to learn it on audiobook. It was difficult, immersive, and sprawling, and I cherished each little bit of it.

Witch King is offered from Tordotcom Publishing.
Learn an excerpt right here.

Alex Brown is a Hugo-nominated and Ignyte Award-winning critic who writes about speculative fiction, librarianship, and black historical past. Discover them on Twitter (@QueenOfRats), Instagram (@bookjockeyalex), and their weblog (bookjockeyalex.com).

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