Cover Image: Witch King

Witch King

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a complex fantasy, it’s interesting and unique but bites off slightly more than it can chew. still very readable and gorgeous word building.

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This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really liked the characters - Kai and Ziede had such a great friendship, which is always welcome. I thought that the magic system was fascinating and that Kai's demon origins were very interesting too. My main issue was with the plot, which I found to be a bit meandering and disjointed at times. It was definitely the strength of the characters that pushed this narrative along for me and I would definitely recommend it, but I just wish the plot had worked for me more.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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I SO badly wanted to enjoy this one! The concept and the writing style were right up my street, but it just didn't do it for me sadly.

We follow Kai, a powerful demon, who one day awakens in a prison, especially created for him, entombed against his will, for what to appears to have been months. What follows, is a back and forth to present day and a look into the past as Kai tries to find out what happened to him to end up in his prison.

Like I said, everything about this plot sounds like something I would absolutely love - however, It was honestly so very very boring. The start started off so strong and I was 100% vibing with it. But the writing was overly convoluted, I couldn't keep up with the characters and who was who (lots of similar names, are they bad? are they good?) I also had SO many questions about the magic systems but there was never much in the way of an actual explanation and you just kind of had to go with it instead.

I would normally have DNFd this quite early on, but as I was kindly given the ARC and had heard nothing but good things about Wells' writing I wanted to give it my best. Sadly, the payoff just wasn't worth it.

Thanks netgalley and the publisher for the copy! Sorry, it just wasn't for me.

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When I started this book, my mind was somewhere else...I was worried for something and could stop thinking about it. However, after the first half page, I was already hooked and completely absorbed into the book. I stopped thinking about the things that were bothering me. It's written so well that you can't stop yourself from completely being absorbed by it once you start.

Going back and forth between the present and past unveils mysteries and helps us understand more. However, something I didn't like was that there was no way to predict the final twist. I felt like it came from nowhere. There weren't hints we could take because we were missing so many pieces of information that were revealed during the twists. I didn't feel like we were part of the group and the adventure...I felt like I was stumbling in the dark for most of the time.

I have so many questions that need answers now: how did they win the war? What happened to Bashasa? And Dahin? What about Kai's real body? And who are the Hierarchs?? What about the pearls??

I don't know if this is supposed to be a series or not, but if more books come out, I'll definitely read them.

Thank you #torpublicity for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review.

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The synopsis gave the impression that Kai had been imprisoned for quite a while, however, it was revealed that he's only been asleep for a year.

We are also dropped into the middle of the story and are expected to learn as we go along. Usually, I have no problem with this but I got 50% and nothing of substance was revealed. Kai needs to find some missing characters or there will be negative impacts on some meeting . . . . and? What happens if the meeting fails, what are the real stakes?
Also, Kai is neither a Witch nor a King he is a demon and tho he is a prince in one demon realm, he doesn't seem to have much power over the other demons and the unique powers he has are okay at best.

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Witch King. Wow.

Martha Wells is the absolute Queen Bee of fantastical world-building.

Her MurderBot is probably my favourite SciFi series ever.

This one was fantasy vs SciFi, but Wells does nothing half-assed.

This book WAS A LOT.

A lot of world building.
A lot of characters.
A lot of politics.
A lot of history.
A LOT OF EXPOSITION.

Thank goodness for the Character Index, or it would have been easy to get lost.

If you like getting totally immersed in a world to the point you don't know past from present, good from bad, or up from down, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

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I really wanted to enjoy the Witch King by Murderbot author Martha Wells however; I wasn't interested in the storyline or plot points. I found myself "not finishing" at 20% but may be willing to try another book by hers!

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I adored this book. This is fantasy at its best.

Kai is a demon, who has left his demon body in the Underearth and inhabits a human body in the upper world. He wakes up in a watery crypt with his body dead, family missing and realizes he has been betrayed.

This is a dual timeline, with the present Kai searching for answers and the past Kai about his origins. There are all these other characters that are great in both the past and the present (Ziede, Dahin, Sanja, Tenes, Ramad, Bashasa). If there is a sequel I would totally love to see them again.

There is amazing worldbuilding. We do get dropped pretty fast into what is going on, so its sink or swim. There are lot of under currents and the naming system is a little complicated ( as seen by the 3 pages of named characters at the beginning).

I ended up reading this twice simultaneously. The audio is fantastic. I was switching between the audio and the book. It is so rich that I would listen to it and then read it or read it and then listen to it. This book is amazing.

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I did not have the same reaction to Witch King by Martha Wells as the majority of readers. I want to state that is solely on me and not on the author. I am sure it is a wonderful book but it is one I will need to reread or relisten (I purchased the audiobook) several more times. What I found so difficult were keeping the names of places and people in mind as I read. I flipped back to the Dramatis Personae several times in each chapter. I also struggled with the positions the various characters held. I purchased the Audible version. Often books with unfamiliar names are much easier in audio. Unfortunately, the audio did not work its magic for me. I think if I could have kept those things present as I read, it would have been a better book. Again, this is on me not Martha Wells.

I received an advanced review copy from Netgalley. After reading it and listen to the audio book, I wrote an honest review.

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Witch King isn't an easy book which one can see in the ratings of some of the other reviews for this book. It is certainly not perfect. Yet regardless I found something in it that I quite enjoyed.

I won't lie, it took me a while to get into this book. We were dropped into this world pretty hastily without much room for a work up towards the world building. We had to gather our wits while also trying to figure out along with our main characters, what exactly was going on as they come out of a slumber. I could have used more explanations and slowly ease us into this world. But the plot and the writing didnt quite alow that. There is still a lot to be discovered and a lot to be explained.

A few chapters in we start going back towards Kai, our main character, past. How he came into our world and into the place he is now. Or at least the position he was in. There is still a lot to be explored in his past. While initially it didn't help me to get into the story, later on I felt it was a great asset to help us understand who Kai and his friends are and their positions in the world.

At some point I grew to enjoy the book. Most of this had to do with Kai. He can't really be described as kind. He will unleash all he has on you, but he won't harm an innocent. In fact, considering the extra strays he takes along throughout the book, he is a bit of a care taker. I grew fond of him and his gruff ways.

And not just him but the characters he takes along with him. His long time friends and his new found friends. They have their own family and are not afraid to take on strays.

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I really wanted to adore this one. Martha Wells has always been a voice in the fantasy genre that I've greatly admired, and "Witch King" promised an intriguing concept that I was excited to explore. A tale of power, friendship, trust, betrayal, and chosen families. The concept of surviving a cataclysmic event and rebuilding from scratch, where trust is so pivotal, and betrayal can undermine everything - that was intriguing.

However, much to my dismay, the book fell short for me.

My struggle was with the pacing and the lack of a driving force to keep the narrative engaging. The storyline seemed to trudge along, lacking the urgency that usually compels me to turn the pages. A few times, I contemplated not finishing it (which is a rarity for me), but my distaste for unresolved endings won out.

Regrettably, even the conclusion of the book didn't provide the sense of fulfillment I was hoping for. The vastness of the world, while ambitious, ended up being a bit overwhelming and left me confused most of the time. It felt as though I was trying to keep track of too many pieces in play, detracting from the central storyline. The intricate web of characters, while fascinating in theory, was hard to keep up with and their significance in the larger scheme was often lost.. Adding to this, the pacing suffered due to the need to keep tabs on what all the characters were doing. The narrative felt bogged down, leading to more confusion than clarity.

Despite my appreciation for what Wells attempted to explore in this novel, "Witch King" just wasn't for me. That's not to say it won't resonate with others; its thematic depth and complex world-building could potentially captivate the right reader. However, if you're someone who struggles with extensive casts of characters and intricate world-building, this might not be your cup of tea.

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The Witch King is a high fantasy about a demon named Kai who is entombed in a coffin of water along with his companion Zeide. Within the first few pages we are thrusted into an immersive world trying to unravel the mystery of why these characters were swept away from the world. This book was on the extreme side of high fantasy. Wells pushes the readers head first into a completely new world with little to no descriptions and a high demand to keep up. The story itself was great and the love for the characters comes shortly after a couple of chapters. The biggest downside is the extensive cast of characters and the immediate demand to understand all of the moving parts in this highly political world. The continuous move from the past to the present can be a bit disorienting also. Although I typically enjoy Wells’ works, this one is lower on the list of enjoyment for me. I still ordered a physical copy of the book and may re-read it in the future, but for now, I will be choosing a slightly lower level of fantasy books.

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I enjoyed this fantasy novel by Martha Wells. The dual timelines were done well but at times could be a bit jarring. She slowly revealed the past of Kai and the other characters. I particularly enjoyed Dahrin's storyline; I would read another novel about him. It had some of the wit/elements of Murderbot in Kai's internal commentary.

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This was an interesting fantasy story. I loved Kai as our main character and going through this journey alongside him, figuring things out as he experiences them. An unusual demon, with a family, friends, and fears, he was surprisingly likeable, as were his close companions. We cover a lot of ground in this world, encountering various groups with a lot of history. With a complex world and a number of characters, I would have liked there to be a little more time spent on the worldbuilding and characterization to distinguish between all the places and people.

The various magic systems and unusual animals were cool to see. I liked how the past and present came to parallel one another as everything unfolded. Starting off with minimal information and piecing things together fit well with Kai awakening with no idea where he was and remembering things as he goes from place to place. Overall, I had a good time going along for this ride with Kai and his companions.

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What I liked about the book:

The world-building in Witch King is one of the strongest aspects of the book. Wells does a great job of creating a rich and detailed world with its own unique cultures, magic systems, and history.
The characters in Witch King are also well-developed and interesting. Kai, the protagonist, is a complex and sympathetic character who is easy to root for. The supporting cast is also full of memorable characters, such as Ziede, the powerful mage who becomes Kai's friend and mentor.
The plot of Witch King is engaging and full of twists and turns. There is plenty of action and adventure, but there is also time for character development and exploration of the world.
What didn't work for me:

The pacing of Witch King is a bit slow at times. The book is over 400 pages long, and there are a few sections that could have been tightened up.
The writing style in Witch King is a bit dry and academic. This is in contrast to Wells's other work, such as the Murderbot Diaries, which is known for its witty and engaging prose.
The ending of Witch King felt a bit rushed. There were a few loose ends that were never tied up, and I was left feeling a bit unsatisfied.
Overall, I enjoyed Witch King, but it wasn't my favorite book by Martha Wells. The world-building and characters were strong, but the pacing and writing style were a bit of a letdown. I would give the book a 3/5 star rating.

Here are some additional thoughts on the book:

I think the slow pacing would have been less of an issue if the writing style had been more engaging. As it is, the dry prose made the book feel even longer than it actually is.
I was disappointed that the ending was so rushed. There were a few plot threads that were never resolved, and I felt like the book could have used another 50-100 pages to tie things up more neatly.
Despite my misgivings, I still think Witch King is a worthwhile read. The world-building and characters are strong, and there is plenty of action and adventure. If you're a fan of Martha Wells's other work, I would recommend giving Witch King a try. Just be prepared for a slower-paced and more academic read than you might be used to.

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This is not a good review, I had a hard time putting my frustration into words. I liked the story at first, but got impatient with the lack of world building, flat characters, plotholes and lack of meaningful progress. There is a good story underneath all the talking, I am sure. And Kai seems to be a nice guy, apart from being a life-sucking demon. But it‘s taking too long, with too little depth, I can‘t be bothered to wait for the story to become truly interesting. DNF in Chapter 6 at 30% and 100+ pages.

What is it about?
We start right in, without explanations. In alternating chapters we are told Kai‘s present—waking up in a tomb with his own corpse—and his past, telling us how he got to his present day predicament. Presumably Kai and we, the readers, figure out along the way who betrayed him and why. Thrown into the mix are some conquerors and a revolution, I guess. I checked out of the narrative before I really figured it out.

It started well. Very slim on world building, intentionally leaving the reader to work it all out on the way. Not necessarily bad, it can be a neat trick to build up suspense. But the plotholes did not make me enjoy this. It was too vague. And I kept loosing track of which timeline I was in, the past or the present. It was all too much the same in tone.

The other character besides Kai were all too flat and interchangeable, they had very little personality.

The book blurb sounded great. Funny, maybe mischievous, with an entertaining gang of characters, found family, etc. That was not the book I got.

I have a hard time believing that this is from the same author who wrote the very entertaining Murderbot novellas, full of great action sequences and dry wit. Granted, the novella length Murderbot was not a winner for me either.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. Sorry, this didn‘t work for me.

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Witch King is an epic fantasy with complexity that extends throughout the world building, characters, types of magic used and the use of alternating time lines. Initially it can be a bit confusing if not a little shallow on the background information but as the story progresses it all begins to take form. In my opinion, this is well achieved through the use of the alternate time line and where the chapters of the "Past" are interwoven throughout the novel, giving background and context. One strong positive of the novel is "Kai" the main character, who is wonderfully complex and yet so endearing.

Martha Wells certainly writes fantasy worth reading! I loved Kai and was completely invested in his character journey. Add to that, a good writing style and entertaining character dialogue throughout. I had a lot of questions at the beginning and many unanswered at the end but it lands firmly as one of my favourite reads of the year.

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Witch King is a high fantasy thrill ride where Wells dumps the reader in the deep end and expects them to swim (hopefully better than Kai ever has been able to). The world building is super dense and the characters are very compelling. Wells created to groups of characters that span two different timelines, with a few notable commonalities. One of them is Kai, the Witch King, and protagonist of this story. As a demon from the under earth he has powers, healing abilities, can drain the life force from people who oppose him, and can jump into new bodies if needed.
Overall, I enjoyed Witch King, but it took me until about 50% into the book to feel like I had any understanding of the structure of the characters and the world they live in. There is action from page one to pull you in and in the last half of the book you start to understand and get the payoff for the dual timelines in the book.
While this feels like it could definitely be a standalone, I’d love to see this story continued, if only so I could feel more connected to the story earlier on due to prior knowledge of the world the novel takes place in.

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A daring, transcendent adventure with a unique cast of characters set in a magical world entirely of Martha Wells' imagination. Everything about this novel screams uniqueness: the title, which challenges the traditional belief that only women are witches (and therefore immediately drawing in potential readers); the premise of having the main character slowly regain his memories (for once the side characters in a book know more information than the audience reading the book); and Wells' bold choice to jump headfirst into the plot (it feels like starting a book in the middle of a conversation). I enjoyed this new experience of having a story start with the impressive hero's resurgence - and subsequently the other characters' shock at him doing so. Usually in fantasy novels there's the big buildup of the reader learning about the main character/hero, developing an attachment to them, and then if the character dies and comes back to life it feels even more worthwhile. However, Wells taking the risk of bringing a character back from the dead that the audience doesn't care about yet is both audacious and startling. This is a fantasy story that truly stands on its own.

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Martha Wells just writes the most interesting main characters. I fell in love with this author's other series (Murderbot) so I was stoked to read a fantasy novel by her. Kai is a wonderful, slightly horrifying, extremely charismatic demon, and it was so much fun reading about him.

This isn't necessarily the easiest book to read because so much happens, but it is so worth the effort! I would highly recommend to fans of epic fantasy or Martha Wells' previous works!

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