Friday, Aug 18, 2023
Review by Abe Ziesing
Demons, angels and witches make up the cast of characters in this high-fantasy adventure novel. It’s quite the departure from the Murderbot Diaries SF of Martha Wells and her other recent works. A plethora of unusual names of people and places would be overwhelming if it weren’t for the convenient inclusion of a map and dramatis personae at the front of this novel. Instead, the originality and richness of the naming conventions enhances the world building significantly. The magic systems (plural) are wildly varied, with each race having specialties and specific rules that aren’t explained in much detail - soft fantasy, if you will. Wells had a lot of fun with descriptions of clothing as well - possibly more so than the magic systems.
There is an interesting dynamic between the main characters, one a good demon and another a teacher of witchcraft, as they quest for the latter’s missing spouse, a fallen angel. A few other interesting companions are picked up along the way, the group forming the classic high fantasy party/fellowship. The novel is structured with a second timeline, “The Past”, interspersed every three chapters or so, which serves to slowly bring the mysteries of the how, what and why of the present to light.
One thing is certain: Martha Wells is truly gifted at writing action and fighting sequences, and there are plenty throughout WITCH KING. Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts and Brandon Sanderson fans will find this book to be right up their alley. Overall, I found WITCH KING to be a decent read despite its not being to my personal taste, certainly not Martha Wells’ best, though. I like where it ended, so hopefully she’s not planning to extend this into a series with sequels called things like DEMON PRINCE and GHOUL QUEEN. Actually, I take that back. I’m all in if GHOUL QUEEN comes out.