Cover Image: Witch King

Witch King

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Member Reviews

Martha Wells is a genius. I fell in love with Murderbot and have devoured everything else she created since. This is a stunning world with interesting side characters. The only critique is that the naming in this book is incredibly confusing and overwhelming as too many characters have similar names, and frankly too many characters are named in general. It's too much to keep up with. But overall, what an incredible book!

So thankful to have gotten an ARC of this!

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Before Martha Wells created the amazing Murderbot stories, she wrote great fantasy stories, including The Death of the Necromancer. Her first fantasy novel in more than 10 years is Witch King. Kaiisteron, or Kai, is a demon in human form and a witch. Kai's story is told in two timelines. The past, where he first took human form and played a crucial role in overthrowing the invading Hierarchs. In the present, Kai's consciousness becomes aware sometime after his body is entombed in a watery prison. Finding a new body to inhabit, Kai frees his companion Ziede, herself a witch, and sets out to discover who murdered him and what has happened in his absence.
Wells does such an excellent job with characters, plot, and world-building. The world-building occurs in the background as you get to know the characters and follow them on their journey. In the past, Kai learns his powers and weaknesses as he is caught up in a war and captured by the Hierarchs. Prince Bashasa rescues him and uses him in his plans to free the lands from the Hierarchs. In the present, Kai searches for his murderer as well as the plot that he is certain is working to undermine the new rule. Wells uses both of these timelines to sketch a complex world with a diverse cast that have different powers, politics, motivations, and cultures. The complexity of this world is part of its charm. The alternating timelines also highlight what has changed and what has been lost.

This is a fascinating world to visit. Fans of Wells' fantasy are in for a treat!

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher.

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This was kind of a bummer for me. Let me just say that it had nothing to do with the writing or the worldbuilding. Both I liked. But more to do with the characters and plot. I unfortunately couldn't connect with any of the characters, and the plot was so slow at first, and then it just didn't hold my interest. I think the main focus for the book was the relationship between the characters. A found family relationship filled with comraderie and just a sense of knowing each other so well. Especially between Kai and Ziede. But I never got the warm and fuzzies like I wanted.

There were cool magical aspect that I really loved though, like the part with the barge. In fact, the magic system as a whole was really cool.

Thank you to the publisher and author for the copy to review!

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The plot was very convoluted to me and hard to follow. I definitely struggle with that kind of plot. I know I also struggle with dual timelines, even if I really want to find one book with that concept that I like. It helps if I can become attached to the characters to carry me through the story. Unfortunately, we don't really delve that deep into the main character, Kel. The relationships with the side characters were also not well flushed out.

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I absolutely loved this one! One of my biggest pet peeves for a first fantasy book is authors infodumping about the world or magic system within the first few pages but martha wells did a really great job of twining the information in without explicitly listing how everything worked right off the bat. It was a really good first fantasy and first in a series and I’m already excited for the next one!

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I have loved all of the Murderbot stories so I was excited to read a book by Martha Wells that was set in a full fantasy world. A world with magic, demons caught in human bodies and a conspiracy to take over the world.

Kia wakes in a room outside his body. He has no recollection of how he got there and who betrayed him. He is a demon cast out and stuck in the mortal realm, he can't die but the body he inhabits, well that is another story. With the assistance of his co-kidnappie, Ziede, he must figure out who in the present wanted him dead so much or at least out of the way. Sometimes the answers to the present lie in the past and as the story is told Kia's history is teased out. It may have some clues into the present dilemma he is in.
Mother bared her fangs. “Stop being overdramatic.” Kai would have loved to, if dramatic things would stop happening to him.

This was a strange and interesting tale. I kept thinking this book possibly when with another to explain the Immortal Patriarch's a little better. They are supposed to be 'the good guys' but didn't seem to be all that good. I'm not sure if there are other stories out there with these characters in them but they were introduced a little like the readers should know who they were.

The worldbuilding in this book was interesting. The openings between the demon realm and the mortal realm have been cut and Kia is trapped here never to return to be the demon prince he was supposed to be. He also has been able to accomplish some fantastic feats many years ago when he was part of an uprising. There was peace after the uprising but someone now wants to change the politics of the world and Kia is the only thing in their way.

The magic of this book was interesting. The mystery got a little muddy for me, so many names were very close and I lost track a few times. The pacing also seemed a little off in the present time, but the past PoV was action packed.

Overall this was a good fantasy book but the Murderbot stories are still by far my favorites and so if you haven't tried Martha Wells as an author yet I recommend to start with those.

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The beginning of this book was jarring, but having loved Well’s Murderbot series I stuck with and was richly rewarded. The more I learned about the story and the world being crafted, the more I wanted to explore! This book was so enjoyable I now want to read her entire bibliography…

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Thank you Netgalley, author, and the publishers for allowing me the opportunity to read this e-arc.

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I do love when a book throws you in to the story and you're left to catch up. This doesn't always work well if too many things are introduced at once. This had the potent to be confusing but with the flashbacks from before made it easier.

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Look, I tried. Twice.
But I just couldn't get through this one.
I dnf'd it at about 30%.

I was really excited to read Martha Wells' newest book. I love the Murderbot Diaries and since I am much more a fantasy reader than a SciFi fan I couldn't wait to read my first fantasy book by Wells.

And the beginning was ok. Nothing ground breaking but we get into the action immediately and that always helps. And then it's just...look I know I'm not the only one who said that, it's confusing. And not in the fun or mysterious way that many high fantasy books often are. It was just impossible for me to follow the story. There's way to many names, political factions, kingdoms and magic users way to early in the book.
And I really, really tried. I even tried to listen to the audiobook instead, after I had dnf'd the eBook. That wasn't better either.

I will probably give this one another chance someday, but at the moment I just can't deal with it anymore.
Looking forward to System Collapse instead.

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Recommended book which is well-written and will be enoyable fans of the author. Enoyable book and will look forward to more.

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Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC.
3.5 stars rounded up. Great writing and interesting characters; I loved the magic system created in this world! I had a hard time following the society structure and figuring out how far apart the different timelines were, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the overall story. I would definitely continue reading more books set in this world!

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Took me a while to connect with the characters but this was great. Always have been a fan. Was a little confused but I loved the cast of characters. Her writing style just works for me. The witty dialogue and funny commentary is part of what I’m there for. Loved this!

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I was enamored the moment I was thrown into the deep end in this weird story. Who are these people, why are they underwater, why does someone want to hide them away? Sometimes it's fun to be confused and feel like you're going to catch up eventually, and this was it. I didn't want this book to end. I've only read Martha Wells' Murderbot series so this was a swift and heady departure. I felt like half my questions wouldn't have answers, at least in this book. That's fine, to be honest. I felt like I met some friends halfway through a quest, jumbled around in their bag for a while, and got thrown out again when it was nearly finished. What a ride.

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A great start to a new series by Martha Wells. She's very good at making characters likable while not over-the-top righteous. I look forward to the next installment!

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I loved the adventure and the found family characters. The magic system was super cool, but along with the world building was a little confusing at times. Wells has built a super complex world and it was a bit slow at times, but there was still a lot to like about this one.

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The Witch King by Martha Wells is sweeping fantasy melodrama about Kai, a life-absorbing demon, who wakes up sealed in an underwater tomb and without a body. Furious, he sets out to find who betrayed him.

First of all, I’ve got to say, I absolutely fell in love with the story’s morally grey, believable characters and rich worldbuilding where people ride whales and demons are enslaved and used for their magic.

Lastly, I want to point out that tonally, this story marks a significant departure from Martha Well’s beloved Murderbot Diaries. However, for me, this is actually a good thing since I personally didn’t enjoy the constantly jokey narrative voice of her previous series. This one, I connected more with and found more compelling, and I hope to see Wells writing more fantasy in the future.

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I am too confused and not attached to any of the characters. I usually love Martha Wells work. She has a talent for creating loveable killers, but sadly this wasn't for me. It was too slow and too much info dumping.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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<a href="https://amzn.to/3MTEdaL">Witch King</a> by Martha Wells only just came out, so I will avoid spoilers, but it's great.

The worldbuilding is similar to the Raksura books in that there are different sentient species who interact, but except for the demons while in their home Underearth (possibly another dimension or magical realm?), they are all human in appearance. The different types of people use magic in different ways, some of which harm others, some of which involve working with magical elemental beings. When the story opens, a stable situation has been upended. Alternating chapters, skillfully tied together, show the present problem and how it's reflected by, and relates to, the past.

The "Witch King" of the title is Kai, a demon who inhabits the mortal form of a dead human, initially through a longstanding treaty with the nomadic Saredi people. Kai, with his magical abilities, had a major part to play when invaders arrived to destroy and colonize. We follow his point of view throughout as he works with old friends and new to find a missing friend and figure out what's happening back at what seems to be the center of power.

Essentially, the story is about coalition building. It's about how coalitions require effort, sacrifice, compromise, and attention to make sure they don't collapse or swing towards authoritarianism as time goes on. I felt resonances between the characters in the story and how activism and coalition-building happen in our world, and seeing this in fiction felt validating and hopeful.

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Overall Score: 3.25/5⭐️
Character Development: 3/5
Plot: 4/5
Ease of Reading: 3/5
Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

I have really mixed feelings about this book. It took my several turns picking it up and putting it down again before I could get through it. I am unfamiliar with Martha Wells’ previous works, but know she wrote some supernatural crime novels I believe? And I can see where that kind of writing has its influence on The Witch King.
I think the plot was really unique and well developed, but so much was also really confusing and almost info-dumpy. I thought the magic system was interesting but felt like the boundaries were a bit too soft or underdeveloped. The character development was really great in the flashbacks but I felt like some of it didn’t translate to the present day. Overall I enjoyed it and I’m glad I purchased the book but not sure I’ll do a re read any time soon!

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