Two best friends use their magic to save the world from war and corruption in Susan Dennard's New York Times bestselling YA fantasy, Truthwitch.
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a "witchery," a magical skill that sets them apart from others.
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in troubleas two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around herbut she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safiya’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safiya and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and privateer) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
About the Author
Before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor, Susan Dennard traveled the world as marine biologist. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the forthcoming Witchlands series, and when not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or practicing her tap dance shuffles.
Read an Excerpt
By Susan Dennard
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Susan Dennard
All rights reserved.
Everything had gone horribly wrong.
None of Safiya fon Hasstrel's hastily laid plans for this holdup were unfolding as they ought.
First, the black carriage with the gleaming gold standard was not the target Safi and Iseult had been waiting for. Worse, this cursed carriage was accompanied by eight rows of city guards blinking midday sun from their eyes.
Second, there was absolutely nowhere for Safi and Iseult to go. Up on their limestone outcropping, the dusty road below was the only path to Veñaza City. And just as this thrust of gray rock overlooked the road, the road overlooked nothing but turquoise sea forever. It was seventy feet of cliff pounded by rough waves and even rougher winds.
And third — the real kick in the kidneys — was that as soon as the guards marched over the girls' buried trap and the firepots within exploded ... Well, then those guards would be scouring every inch of the cliffside.
"Hell-gates, Iz." Safi snapped down her spyglass. "There are four guards in each row. Eight times four makes ..." Her face scrunched up. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen ...
"It's thirty-two," Iseult said blandly.
"Thirty-two thrice-damned guards with thirty-two thrice-damned crossbows."
Iseult only nodded and eased back the hood of her brown cape. The sun lit up her face. She was the perfect contrast to Safi: midnight hair to Safi's wheat, moon skin to Safi's tan, and hazel eyes to Safi's blue.
Hazel eyes that were now sliding to Safi as Iseult plucked away the spyglass. "I hate to say 'I told you so' —"
"— but," Iseult finished, "Everything he said to you last night was a lie. He was most certainly not interested in a simple card game." Iseult ticked off two gloved fingers. "He was not leaving town this morning by the northern highway. And I bet" — a third finger unfurled — "his name wasn't even Caden."
Caden. If ... no, when Safi found that Chiseled Cheater, she was going to break every bone in his perfect rutting face.
Safi groaned and banged her head against the rock. She'd lost all of her money to him. Not just some, but all.
Last night had hardly been the first time Safi had bet all of her — and Iseult's — savings on a card game. It wasn't as if she ever lost, for, as the saying went, You can't trick a Truthwitch.
Plus, the winnings off one round alone from the highest-stake taro game in Veñaza City would have bought Safi and Iseult a place of their own. No more living in an attic for Iseult, no more stuffy Guildmaster's guest room for Safi.
But as Lady Fate would have it, Iseult hadn't been able to join Safi at the game — her heritage had banned her from the highbrow inn where the game had taken place. And without her Threadsister beside her, Safi was prone to ... mistakes.
Particularly mistakes of the strong-jawed, snide-tongued variety who plied Safi with compliments that somehow slipped right past her Truthwitchery. In fact, she hadn't sensed a lying bone in Chiseled Cheater's body when she'd collected her winnings from the in-house bank ... Or when Chiseled Cheater had hooked his arm in hers and guided her into the warm night ... Or when he'd leaned in for a chaste yet wildly heady kiss on the cheek.
I will never gamble again, she swore, her heel drumming on the limestone. And I will never flirt again.
"If we're going to run for it," Iseult said, interrupting Safi's thoughts, "then we need to do so before the guards reach our trap."
"You don't say." Safi glared at her Threadsister, who watched the incoming guards through the spyglass. Wind kicked at Iseult's dark hair, lifting the wispy bits that had fallen from her braid. A distant gull cried its obnoxious scree, scr-scree, scr-scree!
Safi hated gulls; they always shit on her head.
"More guards," Iseult murmured, the waves almost drowning out her words. But then louder, she said, "Twenty more guards coming from the north."
For half a moment, Safi's breath choked off. Now, even if she and Iseult could somehow face the thirty-two guards accompanying the carriage, the other twenty guards would be upon them before they could escape.
Safi's lungs burst back to life with a vengeance. Every curse she'd ever learned rolled off her tongue.
"We're down to two options," Iseult cut in, scooting back to Safi's side. "We either turn ourselves in —"
"Over my grandmother's rotting corpse," Safi spat.
"— or we try to reach the guards before they trigger the trap. Then all we have to do is brazen our way through."
Safi glanced at Iseult. As always, her Threadsister's face was impassive. Blank. The only part of her that showed stress was her long nose — it twitched every few seconds.
"Once we're through," Iseult added, drawing her hood back into place and casting her face in darkness, "we'll follow the usual plan. Now hurry."
Safi didn't need to be told to hurry — obviously she would hurry — but she bit back her retort. Iseult was, yet again, saving their hides.
Besides, if Safi had to hear one more I told you so, she'd throttle her Threadsister and leave her carcass to the hermit crabs.
Iseult's feet hit the gritty road, and as Safi descended nimbly beside her, dust plumed around her boots — and inspiration struck.
"Wait, Iz." In a flurry of movement, Safi swung off her cape. Then with a quick slash-rip-slash of her parrying knife, she cut off the hood. "Skirt and kerchief. We'll be less threatening as peasants."
Iseult's eyes narrowed. Then she dropped to the road. "But then our faces will be more obvious. Rub on as much dirt as you can." As Iseult scrubbed her face, turning it a muddy brown, Safi wound the hood over her hair and wrapped the cape around her waist. Once she'd tucked the brown cloak into her belt, careful to hide her scabbards beneath, she too slathered dirt and mud over her cheeks.
In less than a minute, both girls were ready. Safi ran a quick, scrutinizing eye over Iseult ... but the disguise was good. Good enough. Her Threadsister looked like a peasant in desperate need of a bath.
With Iseult just behind, Safi launched into a quick clip around the limestone corner, her breath held tight ... Then she exhaled sharply, her pace never slowing. The guards were still thirty paces from the buried firepots.
Safi flashed a bumbling wave at a mustached guard in the front. He lifted his hand, and the other guards came to an abrupt stop. Then, one by one, each guard's crossbow leveled on the girls.
Safi pretended not to notice, and when she reached the pile of gray pebbles that marked the trap, she cleared it with the slightest hop. Behind her, Iseult made the same, almost imperceptible leap.
Then the mustached man — clearly the leader — raised his own crossbow. "Halt."
Safi complied, letting her feet drag to a stop — while also covering as much ground as she could. "Onga?" she asked, the Arithuanian word for yes. After all, if they were going to be peasants, they might as well be immigrant peasants.
"Do you speak Dalmotti?" the leader asked, looking first at Safi. Then at Iseult.
Iseult came to a clumsy stop beside Safiya. "We spwik. A litttttle." It was easily the worst attempt at an Arithuanian accent that Safiya had ever heard from Iseult's mouth.
"We are ... in trouble?" Safi lifted her hands in a universally submissive gesture. "We only go to Veñaza City."
Iseult gave a dramatic cough, and Safi wanted to throttle her. No wonder Iz was always the cutpurse and Safi the distraction. Her Threadsister was awful at acting.
"We want a city healer," Safi rushed to say before Iseult could muster another unbelievable cough. "In case she has the plague. Our mother died from it, you see, and ohhhh, how she coughed in those final days. There was so much blood —"
"Plague?" the guard interrupted.
"Oh, yes." Safi nodded knowingly. "My sister is very ill."
Iseult heaved another cough — but this one was so convincing, Safi actually flinched ... and then hobbled to her. "Oh, you need a healer. Come, come. Let your sister help you."
The guard turned back to his men, already dismissing the girls, already bellowing orders: "Back in formation! Resume march!"
Gravel crunched; footsteps drummed. The girls trudged onward, passing guards with wrinkled noses. No one wanted Iseult's "plague" it would seem.
Safi was just towing Iseult past the black carriage when its door popped wide. A saggy old man leaned his scarlet-clad torso outside. His wrinkles shook in the wind.
It was the leader of the Gold Guild, a man named Yotiluzzi, whom Safi had seen from afar — at last night's establishment, no less.
The old Guildmaster clearly didn't recognize Safi, though, and after a cursory glance, he lifted his reedy voice. "Aeduan! Get this foreign filth away from me!"
A figure in white stalked around the carriage's back wheel. His cape billowed, and though a hood shaded his face, there was no hiding the knife baldric across his chest or the sword at his waist.
He was a Carawen monk — a mercenary trained to kill since childhood.
Safi froze, and without thinking, she eased her arm away from Iseult, who twisted silently behind her. The guards would reach the girls' trap at any moment, and this was their ready position: Initiate. Complete.
"Arithuanians," the monk said. His voice was rough, but not with age — with underuse. "From what village?" He strolled a single step toward Safi.
She had to fight the urge not to cower back. Her Truthwitchery was suddenly bursting with discomfort — a grating sensation, as if skin were being scratched off the back of her neck.
And it wasn't his words that set Safi's magic to flaring. It was his presence. This monk was young, yet there was something off about him. Something too ruthless — too dangerous — to ever be trusted.
He pulled back his hood, revealing a pale face and close-cropped brown hair. Then, as the monk sniffed the air near Safi's head, red swirled around his pupils.
Safi's stomach turned to stone.
This monk was a rutting Bloodwitch. A creature from the myths, a being who could smell a person's blood — smell their very witchery — and track it across entire continents. If he latched onto Safi's or Iseult's scent, then they were in deep, deep —
Gunpowder burst inside firepots. The guards had hit the trap.
Safi acted instantly — as did the monk. His sword swished from its scabbard; her knife came up. She clipped the edge of his blade, parrying it aside.
He recovered and lunged. Safi lurched back. Her calves hit Iseult, yet in a single fluid movement, Iseult kneeled — and Safi rolled sideways over her back.
Initiate. Complete. It was how the girls fought. How they lived.
Safi unfurled from her flip and withdrew her sword just as Iseult's moon scythes clinked free. Far behind them, more explosions thundered out. Shouts rose up, the horses kicked and whinnied.
Iseult spun for the monk's chest. He jumped backward and skipped onto the carriage wheel. Yet where Safi had expected a moment of distraction, she only got the monk diving at her from above.
He was good. The best fighter she'd ever faced.
But Safi and Iseult were better.
Safi swooped out of reach just as Iseult wheeled into the monk's path. In a blur of spinning steel, her scythes sliced into his arms, his chest, his gut — and then, like a tornado, she was past.
And Safi was waiting. Watching for what couldn't be real and yet clearly was: every cut on the monk's body was healing before her eyes.
There was no doubt now — this monk was a thrice-damned Bloodwitch straight from Safi's darkest nightmares. So she did the only thing she could conjure: she threw her parrying knife directly at the monk's chest.
It thunked through his rib cage and embedded deep in his heart. He stumbled forward, hitting his knees — and his red eyes locked on Safi's. His lips curled back. With a snarl, he wrenched the knife from his chest. The wound spurted ...
And began to heal over.
But Safi didn't have time for another strike. The guards were doubling back. The Guildmaster was screaming from within his carriage, and the horses were charging into a frantic gallop.
Iseult darted in front of Safi, scythes flying fast and beating two arrows from the air. Then, for a brief moment, the carriage blocked the girls from the guards. Only the Bloodwitch could see them, and though he reached for his knives, he was too slow. Too drained from the magic of healing.
Yet he was smiling — smiling — as if he knew something that Safi didn't. As if he could and would hunt her down to make her pay for this.
"Come on!" Iseult yanked at Safi's arm, pulling her into a sprint toward the cliffside.
At least this was part of their plan. At least this they had practiced so often they could do it with their eyes closed.
Just as the first crossbow bolts pounded the road behind them, the girls reached a waist-high boulder on the ocean side of the road.
They plunked their blades back into scabbards. Then in two leaps, Safi was over the rock — and Iseult too. On the other side, the cliff ran straight down to thundering white waves.
Two ropes waited, affixed to a stake pounded deep into the earth. With far more speed and force than was ever intended for this escape, Safi snatched up her rope, hooked her foot in a loop at the end, gripped a knot at head level ...
And jumped.CHAPTER 2
Air whizzed past Safi's ears and up her nose as she sprang out ... down toward white waves ... away from the seventy-foot cliff ...
Until Safi reached the rope's end. With a sharp yank that shattered through her body and tore into her gripping hands, she flew at the barnacle-covered cliffside.
This was about to hurt.
She hit with a crash, teeth ramming her tongue. Pain sizzled through her body. Limestone cut her arms, her face, her legs. She snapped out her hands to grip the cliff — just as Iseult slammed into the rocks beside her.
"Ignite," Safi grunted. The word that triggered the rope's magic was lost in the roar of ocean waves — but the command hit its mark. In a flash of white flame that shot up faster than eyes could travel, their ropes ignited ...
And disintegrated. A fine ash kicked away on the wind. A few specks settled on the girls' kerchiefs, their shoulders.
"Arrows!" Iseult roared, flattening herself against the rock as bolts zipped past. Some skittered off the rocks, some sank into waves.
One sliced through Safi's skirt. Then she'd managed to dig her toes in cracks, grab for handholds, and scramble sideways. Her muscles trembled and strained until at last, she and Iseult had ducked beneath a slight overhang. Until at last, they could pause and let the arrows fall harmlessly around them.
The rocks were wet, the barnacles vicious, and water swept at the girls' ankles. Salty drops battered over and over. Until eventually the arrows stopped falling.
"Are they coming?" Safi rasped at Iseult.
Iseult shook her head. "They're still there. I can feel their Threads waiting."
Safi blinked, trying to get the salt from her eyes. "We're going to have to swim, aren't we?" She rubbed her face on her shoulder; it didn't help. "Think you can make it to the lighthouse?" Both girls were strong swimmers — but strong didn't matter in waves that could pummel a dolphin.
"We don't have a choice," Iseult said. She glanced at Safi with a fierceness that always made Safi feel stronger. "We can toss our skirts left, and while the guards shoot those, we dive right."
Safi nodded, and with a grimace, she angled her body so she could remove her skirt. Once both girls had their brown skirts free, Iseult's arm reared back.
"Ready?" she asked.
"Ready." Safi heaved. The skirt flew out from beneath the overhang — Iseult's right behind it.
And then both girls stepped away from the rock face and sank beneath the waves.
* * *
As Iseult det Midenzi wriggled free from her sea-soaked tunic, boots, pants, and finally underclothes, everything hurt. Every peeled-off layer revealed ten new slices from the limestone and barnacles, and each burst of spindrift made her aware of ten more.
This ancient, crumbling lighthouse was effective for hiding, but it was inescapable until the tide went out. For now, the water outside was well above Iseult's chest, and hopefully that depth — as well as the crashing waves between here and the marshy shoreline — would deter the Bloodwitch from following.
The interior of the lighthouse was no larger than Iseult's attic bedroom over Mathew's coffee shop. Sunlight beamed in through algae-slimed windows, and wind tugged sea foam through the arched door.
Excerpted from Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. Copyright © 2015 Susan Dennard. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
About this guide
The questions and activities that follow are intended to enhance your reading of Truthwitch. The material is aligned with Common Core State Standards for Literacy in English and Language Arts (www.corestandards.org), however please feel free to adapt this content to suit the needs and interests of your students or reading group participants.
About Truthwitch and the Witchlands series
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others. In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in troubleas two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her. Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must rise above their doubts and fight to learn who they are, if they are going to stay alive and preserve the balance of their world.
New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. As a marine biologist, she got to travel the worldsix out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two dogs, and she is extremely active on social media. You can find her on her blog at SusanDennard.com, on Twitter as
@stdennard, at Facebook.com/SusanDennardAuthor, or contributing to Pub(lishing) Crawl. thewitchlands.com
Ages 13-17 H Grades 8-12
Leveling information: Lexile level: 810L, AR Level 6.1 UG, AR Points 18.0, AR Quiz No. 181105 EN
Writing & Discussion Activities
• A central motif in Truthwitch is that of friendship, its many forms and depths, and its relation to trust. Invite each student to reflect on a friendship they value highly. In a group, invite each student to share five words they would choose to describe their friend. Then, individually, have each student write a short essay explaining how this valued friendship began, how often the writer sees this friend, activities or traditions these friends share, and the reason this friendship is important.
• Truthwitch is the inaugural title in author Susan Dennard’s Witchlands High Fantasy series. High Fantasy is a literary genre that often includes:
• Characters who are nonhuman or who have special powers
• Setting in an imagined world or a parallel or alternate world
• Objects or places imbued with special significance or power
• Plot elements (actions) involving multiple characters, settings, or interwoven events
• A broad time-frame for action or important references to ancient and/or future times
• Epic themes, such as the battle between good and evil
Invite students to keep a reading journal for Truthwitch. As they read, have them note which elements of fantasy Susan Dennard uses to tell her story and how; track the various types of witches and the warring empires of the Witchlands; and record pages on which they find favorite quotations, particularly pertaining to the story’s themes. Students can use their journals for reference as they turn to the questions and activities which follow.
Supports Common Core State Standards:
W.8.2, 9-10.2, 11-12.2; W.8.4, 9-10.4, 11-12.4;
and SL.8.1, 9-10.1, 11-12.1
• As the novel begins, Safiya and Iseult are in a dangerous situation. How do they come to this predicament? How does the author use a scene of high action to also reveal important elements of Safiya and Iseult’s characters and their relationship to each other?
• What is “stasis”? Why is it important to Iseult throughout the novel? What helps you find stasis during difficult moments in your own life?
• What is a “Threadsister”? What is a “heart-thread”? How are these types of relationships important to understanding the novel?
• What is the Truce? In what year of the Truce does this story begin? Why is this important? What role have Safi’s people, the Dalmotti, played in the evolution of the Truce?
• Describe the powers and limitations of Truthwitchery. Why is Safi a “heretic” Truthwitch? If her powers were known to all, what dangers might she face?
• What deal does Uncle Eron make with Safi in Chapter 7? How might this exchange be viewed as a critical turning point in the novel’s plot and for Safi emotionally?
• In Chapter 11, what details are revealed about the Bloodwitch who pursues Safi and Iseult? Do these revelations change your perspective on this character? Is Aeduan friend or foe to the girls? Explain your answer.
• How is Iseult an imperfect or unusual Threadwitch? Does this limit or enhance her powers? Do you think Iseult is glad or content to be this kind of witch? How do you think she would answer that question if asked directly?
• What happens to Iseult when she returns to her mother? What old wounds are reopened? How does Corlant treat Iseult? How does he treat Gretchya? How is Iseult affected by the changes she witnesses in Midenzi community power hierarchy?
• What is “cleaving”? How is the first cleaving described in the novel? How do Safi and Iseult react to this event? How is the last cleaving depicted before the story ends? Does this last cleaving change your understanding of the term? If so, how?
• Susan Dennard depicts a world with an expansive embracing of gender, sexuality, and love. Find examples in the story of how she depicts this variety and breadth.
• What kind of witch is Merik? How is his relationship to his Threadbrother, Kullen, like or unlike Safi’s bond with Iseult?
• From what kinds of prejudice does Iseult suffer? How is she judged and by whom? Do you see parallels between what Iseult suffers and the situations of discrimination and prejudice in our world today? Explain your answer, with examples.
• How do Safi and Merik first meet? What secrets does each keep from the other that complicate their relationship? How do they eventually discover how their journeys and goals might intertwine?
• Who is Evane? How has her path crossed Iseult’s before they meet on the Jana, and why is this important? How does keeping Evane on his ship speak to the quality of Merik’s character?
• When she reaches Nubrevna, Safi is shocked by the way the landscape differs from the descriptions she has heard. Evane says this is because “…those who win wars are those who write history” (p. 257). What does Evane mean? How does her statement reshape Safi’s view of the Witchlands, and her role as a domna, more broadly?
• Does Safi truly understand her special ability? How has it helped her? In which instances has it failed her and why? As the novel progresses, whom do readers realize are aware of Safi’s unregistered magical talent and how does this create more (or less) danger for Safi?
• Who are the Cahr Awen? What is their relationship to the Origin Wells? What truth may Safi and Iseult be facing about the Cahr Awen as the story reaches its conclusion?
• Who is the Puppeteer? When does Iseult first learn about the Puppeteer? How and why do you think the Puppeteer is able to reach inside Iseult’s dreams?
• On page 85, Safi’s goal for her life is freedom. However, on page 394, as she battles Vaness the Empress of Marstok, she realizes she has a greater goal. Describe this goal and its evolution. Has reading Safi’s story made you see any of your own goals in a new light? Explain your answer.
• Compare Merik’s relationship to Kullen with his relationship to his sister, Vivia. How does Safi relate to her Uncle Eron and other fon Hasstrel relatives? What might these observations suggest about the value of family ties versus Thread ties in the Witchlands?
• In Chapter 39, Iseult considers the journey she has taken and the state of her life, harkening back to the Nomatsi phrases, Mhe verujta, meaning “trust me as if my soul was yours.” How might the novel be read as an exploration of the way Safi, Iseult, Merik, and others comprehend and employ that vital notion?
Supports Common Core State Standards:
RL.8.1-4, 9-10.1-5, 11-12.1-6;
and SL.8.1, 3, 4; SL.9-10.1, 3, 4; SL.11-12.1, 3, 4.
Research & Writing Activities
Create a booklet or informational poster helping readers track the variety of witches who populate the Witchlands. Note each type of witch (e.g., Truthwitch), associated magical abilities, the names of characters in the story who possess this type of magic, and your own thoughts about this type of witchcraft.
Based on clues from the text, use watercolors, oil pastels, or colored pencils to create a landscape featuring one of the Origin Wells. Create a caption card for your artwork naming the well and briefly explain its current status.
Create a PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation describing how the author uses the following words in multiple ways to create a deeply specific vocabulary for the novel: Thread, witch, stone, or wind.
Review your reading journal or page back through the novel to find at least five examples of Witchlands slang (e.g., “…Gretchya hates to snag the settlement’s weave” (p. 97); “’Matski scum” (referencing Iseult). Can you think of expressions from the present-day real world that could parallel those found in the book? With friends or classmates, discuss how these phrases serve to deepen the world-building vocabulary of the novel.
Aboard the Jana, the Nubrevnan shipmates sing a song which anchors their culture and traditions in a time frame beyond the boundaries of the novel. Go to the library or online to learn more about the history and uses of folk songs. Then write a folk song a different set characters might sing during another scene in Truthwitch.
Use stones, yarn, clay, glass, or other art materials to make your version of a Threadstone. Create a label for your creation explaining what it can do.
In its many forms, friendship can be studied as a defining motif in Truthwitch. Go to the library or online to find multiple definitions of friendship. Make a list of famous friendships in arts and politics. Create a bibliography of friendship-themed novels. Find quotes discussing friendship. Finally, with classmates or group members, make a word cloud, collage, or other graphic representation of your exploration of the term friendship.
To establish drama and anchor her fantastic world, Susan Dennard presents many contrasting pairs within the novel. For example, Safi and Iseult represent action versus thought, fair hair versus dark, and social prominence versus insignificance. Create a chart or table on which to list other examples of contrasting pairs, or foils, within the novel along with notes explaining ways in which they represent character, plot, setting, or thematic oppositions.
In the course of the novel, Safi fights many foes, but are they all true enemies? Though she captures Safi, Vaness is trying to do right by her people. Though he is a Bloodwitch, Aeduan has yet to kill Safi or Iseult. In the character of Vaness, Aeduan, Uncle Eron, Merik, Habim, or Mathew, write a three to four paragraph journal entry describing your deepest dreams and wishes for yourself (and your people, if applicable), your opinion of Safi and Iseult, and how these young witches might be part of your future plans.
At the end of the novel, Safiya has stopped running from her identity and begun to embrace its truth and, perhaps, its power. Have you ever had an experience which caused you to change the way you see yourself or to change a dream or goal? Has Safi’s story given you some perspective on your experience? Write a short essay describing this experience and, if applicable, relate it to Safi’s journey.
Supports Common Core State Standards:
RL.8.1-4, 9-10.1-5, 11-12.1-6;
SL.8.1, 4; SL.9-10.1, 4; SL.11-12.1, 4;
and W.8.1-4, W.8.6, W.9-10.1-4, W.9-10.6, W.11-12.1-4, W.11-12.6
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book in a day and I wish I would have slowed down because I missed reading it right after I finished! I can't wait for more in the series and to see what happens to all the loveable characters. I really fell In love with the world the author created and the people living within it. The action in this book is constant and makes you never want to put it down. If you're thinking of buying you definitely should!!
I love reading an author’s second series because of books like TRUTHWITCH. Dennard’s writing is gorgeous, and her characters fresh and original. The world of TRUTHWITCH is huge and it’s because of Dennard’s experience as a writer that the reader is never overwhelmed by it all. This is the book that will be talked about for years to come, a book that deserves every bit of hype. TRUTHWITCH is the tale of two threadsisters and Dennard is able to perfectly balance their stories, so that it never feels like one is more significant than the other. This is a multi-POV book; told in the POV’s of Safi (our Truthwitch), Iseult (Threadwitch), Merrik (Windwitch), and Aeduan (Bloodwitch). In a lot of cases, this is a big undertaking because there needs to be enough space given to each character. Dennard is absolutely perfect when it comes to this. The switch between POV’s is smooth and I felt like I got enough time with each and every character. I loved all four of our main characters. Safi was funny and ambitious, someone who acts before she thinks. Iseult was my favourite, mainly because I felt our personalities were very similar. She was introverted and calm, and I felt like she was very selfless, in the sense that she’d give up everything if it meant her friends and family were happy. Merrik is someone who would do anything for his country and is desperately fighting for its survival. He also has a lot of rage, which fits so well with his witchery. Then there’s Aeduan, the infamous Bloodwitch. Like Iseult, he was another favourite and I can’t wait to find out more about him. He’s very mysterious and a bit of an anti-hero, but that kind of makes me love him more haha. The characters go through some serious character development and I especially loved the actions of Safi at the end – it showed her growth. I usually mention this in my reviews, but world building is my absolute favourite and Dennard did not disappoint. If you’ve seen a map of this world, you might have noticed that it looks like an alternate version of Europe. I loved that! Dennard is so strong when it comes to giving the reader a good visual of her world. There are so many different cultures, but again we are never overwhelmed. We’d glimpse the world through the characters actions, through music and poetry, myths and legends. It was also great seeing both the good and bad of the world. For example, we experienced the discrimination of the Nomatsi through Iseult, which is her ethnicity. I actually think if you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender, you’ll like this. The world is based upon elemental magic and the scale of the world (very big!) is about the same. I also sensed a bit of Zuko in Aeduan, which was great. Dennard is truly a Wordwitch when it comes to writing. With magic and suspense at every corner, TRUTHWITCH is a must-read. The writing is visually stunning and the world equally so. Dennard has created a beautiful start to a fantastic, new series. Disclaimer 1: I won an advanced readers copy from the author, this has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book. Disclaimer 2: I wrote this review about a year after reading it, but I based it on notes written immediately after finishing it, so everything in my review is accurate.
Amazing characters, awesome action, and a world I can't get enough of. Highly recommend!
This book packed a punch right from the first chapter. I greatly enjoyed all four main characters, especially the relationship between Safi and Iseult. Don't worry about keeping all the witch-types straight, you'll pick it up as the story goes. I highly recommend this series if you enjoyed anything by Sarah J Maas. Excellent, excellent first book.
I read this book in one day. It was amazing, wonderful, and exciting. I loved the two main characters and their amazing friendship. I cannot wait for the next book. I highly recommend this one. Great read.
This book definitely deserves the hype around it. I really love books that delve deep into the characters and develop them fully. Truthwitch did just that with the two main characters. I love the relationship between them, and you can really see how they ALWAYS have each others backs, no matter what. I can't wait to see what happens in book 2!
The minute I knew that Susan Dennard was going to be writing another book it was on my to be read shelf. First, I loved her Something Strange and Deadly series. Second, she writes fantastic stories. Third, this book has elemental magic with a wide variety of characters. If I had to guess, this was the most wanted book at BEA and I happened to be one of the lucky ones who got my hands on a copy. I forced myself to hold off on reading it for a few months because I am an impatient reader by which I mean, the second I finished this, I knew I was going to want book two in my hands. I’m fairly positive my review will not do this book justice so if you take one thing from the details below, let it be the fact that you NEED to read it. Truthwitch opens immediately with action and Dennard carries that throughout the entire book. From the very first page I was pulled into Safiya and Iseult’s story. I loved that both of these character’s points of views were covered and they are equally main characters to this book even though we do get more of one than the other, I thought they were set up to be equally important…if that makes sense. It is easy to see why these two get along as they truly do balance each other out. Where Safiya tends to act rashly and figure things out when she realizes she’s in trouble, Iseult is the cool headed one that tries to think things through and ultimately helps Safiya get out of tight situations. The friendship between these two is fantastic and it was great to see how these two were willing to do whatever they needed to in order to keep each other safe. I found the magic in this book interesting. You have a threadwitch, a truthwitch, a windwitch, a bloodwitch…and so many more I am sure. I loved learning about the structure of the world that Dennard has built out here and centered around the magic. The world itself is structured well and the segmentation that Dennard has built out between the types of magic and people made it interesting. Whether the characters were running through a city, floating on a boat, or trekking through unfamiliar territory, the descriptions and world building was fantastic. There are a number of other characters in this series and I don’t want to say so much but I’m excited to learn more about how all of them will connect. Already in book one there are some paths crossing that I didn’t see coming and some characters that were introduced had limited page time and I can’t wait to learn more about them. It would be remiss of me to not mention the boys in this book…especially Prince Merik. I thought he was fantastic. His introduction to Safiya was perfect and then as the story continued to progress, I couldn’t wait for more of the interactions between them. He is also more than just a potential love interest as he has a motivation and story which I loved. So I don’t want to say too much about the actual story because I don’t want to give anything away. I think from the first few chapters you will start to see what is going on. I am so excited that Dennard has created another amazing series and I can’t wait to read what she writes next. Take my word for it, this book has something for everyone. There is magic, action, fantastic characters, an intriguing story, and some romantic tension…and, and, and. I could probably go on and on here but I won’t. Instead I will encourage you to get a copy of this book when you can.
I'm no great authority on writing skills. I just thought this was a great read, and can't wait for the next book in the series.
Truthwitch lived up to the hype. However I am a person who isn't influenced or really care about the hype but I'm glad it lived up to it, nonetheless. I was so completely immersed in the fantasy world and would look forward to picking up and continuing my journey with Safi and Iseult whenever I put the book down. Truthwich is unique in that the main relationship is the friendship between Safi and Iseult. They care for each like sisters, and would sacrifice themselves for the other. It was just so refreshing to have a storyline centred around friendship instead of romance. Both Safi and Iseult complete each other. Safi is the more adventurous and wild one while Iseult is the more reserved yet the one who plans things. Safi is a truthwitch, but that's something only few people know since Truthwitches have been hunted down for as far as anyone knows. Iseult is a threadwitch but she's not really that.. and you get to unravel her story as you read more. Truthwitch is definitely an adventure book. The girls are always running from something whether it is a bloodwitch an entire army of an opposing kingdom. On horseback, on foot, on ships.. basically the girls do a crap load of running away with a crap load of exciting fighting and adrenaline pumping scenes. One thing I enjoyed about Truthwitch is its unpredictability.. they didn't really have an overall goal they must reach. You didn't know where the book is going or the fate of the characters. I know this uncertainty confused people but I'm glad this was how it was written because let's be real, a ton of books I end up reading I can already predict the ending. Lastly, I love the world that Dennard built. We get to see a glimpse of it during Truthwitch, where a 20 year peace treaty is about to end and all the different kingdoms are shaking each other's hands while preparing for war behind closed doors. A last thing is that I appreciated that these two girls weren't really "chosen ones".. and if they are, no one really knows that, including themselves. Yes, they will play important roles in this world and story, but everything is unclear and I like that. I can't wait to pick up the sequel and continue the journey of Safi and Iseult.
Magic is as common as breathing in the Witchlands. But not all witcheries are created equal as two Thread Sisters know all too well. Safiya is a Truthwitch able to use her magic to tell when someone is lying to her while Iseult is a Threadwitch able to see the threads that bind everyone together--except for her own. Together, they have spent years keeping Safi's witchery a secret, knowing that it could be seen as a valuable tool or a dangerous weapon. Safi and Iseult are used to getting into trouble as they prepare for the life they'd like to lead together free of societal obligations and pressures. When a Bloodwitch catches Safi's scent, both girls are forced into hiding as fugitives. With the help of their witcheries and unlikely allies including a Nubrevnan captain (and Windwitch) named Merik, Safi and Iseult might be able to survive the storm that is coming. But only if they can manage to stay together in Truthwitch (2016) by Susan Dennard. Truthwitch is the start of Dennard's new Witchlands series. This book is written in alternating close third-person perspectives. The majority of the story follows Safiya and Iseult although Merik and Aeduan (the Bloodwitch) also carry key parts of the narrative. In any ensemble book, there is the risk that one character will be more appealing than others. That risk is compounded when the character is decidedly not the center of the narrative. Given the strong theme of friendship and camaraderie, it's easy to argue that Safi and Iseult are equally important to the story. On the other hand, in a book called Truthwitch, perhaps it isn't surprising that the story revolves around the decidedly less interesting Safi instead of Iseult. Many novels are based on the idea that the main character is unique or important. Safi, as a rare Truthwitch, is both. She is also, like many of these same unique and important characters, essentially the worst at what she does. Safi tries to keep her witchery a secret. She fools no one. Safi tries to save her friend. She almost gets that friend killed. In other words, Safi is reckless and thoughtless and shows almost no growth by the end of Truthwitch. Breakneck pacing and a shoe-horned romance (plus fairly clear foreshadowing of future "ships") flesh out the story without much nuance. While Dennard has created a complex world with well-researched details, Truthwitch never lingers long enough on any one piece to let readers appreciate these details. Truthwitch is an interesting start to a new series sure to appeal to readers looking for new lighter fantasy fare. Ideal for readers seeking an action-heavy, plot-driven story.
THIS BOOK. This book was spectacular! It was so hyped up and it so lived up to all the hype! I love Susan Dennard and her writing. And this book is top notch! One of my all time favorites for sure! I need Windwitch right now! I can't believe I have to wait another year for the second installment! Truthwitch is about a lot of things: freedom, war, survival, romance, but most of all this is about friendship. And not just friendship but female friendship. It is so rare that I read a book and the majority of the book is catered towards friendships, but this one is. Safiya and Iseult would die for each other. They complement each other so well and they are the kinds of friends that everyone should strive to be like. Truthwitch is so epic-ly awesome. So well written. So breathtaking. So, so, so many things. Sooz has blown me away with this book and I look up to her even more than I already had before. She has created a story that will live with me forever. Characters that I will never forget. And she has given me more inspiration and will with my writing than ever before. All with THIS BOOK. If you like epic fantasies, witches, romance, but most of all, if you love reading about friendships and the stakes that friends should and will go for one another. Then this book needs to be at the top of your list to read. Hype can ruin a lot of things, but do not let hype ruin this for you, because I assure you it is worth all the hype that it has received. There is a reason for all the hype surrounding Truthwitch. It's because it is so beautifully rendered that it's hard to not want to tell everyone you know to read it. If you haven't read this yet. What are you waiting for? Go read it and then let me know how you felt about it. And give it more than the first 60 pages. The first few chapters are getting you into the world, but once you get past that, I promise you it is worth it! This review was first published on In Wonderland: http://www.inwonderlandbookblog.com/2016/02/truthwitch-review.html
Such an engaging and enticing world! It took a few chapters to familiarize with all of the new lingo and sort out the nouns of the Witchworld language, but before you know it the characters will completely entrance you. You'll slip right into their world and you won't be able to claw yourself out of the pages-- or at least I couldn't! If you're a fan of The Young Elites or The Red Queen, you will LOVE this book!
This book is so good! So much adventure and the characters are all so awesome! The magic system could've been a little more fleshed out in the beginning but it was pretty self explanatory. I LOVED all of the characters and this story was unlike any other YA fantasy I have read! If you are thinking about buying this just do it, you won't regret it!
I was SO excited to get my hands on TRUTHWITCH! As I sat down to open the first page, I took a deep breath and thought to myself, "Wow, there's a lot of hype and pressure here. Will it live up to the expectations?" By the 100 page mark, my question was answered. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I loved the action, the friendships, and of course the swoonworthy romantic moments! From the best friend moments of Safi and Iseult to the bromance moments of Prince Merik and Kullen to the romantic banter of Safi and Merik, I loved TRUTHWITCH and can't wait for the sequel. It took me a while to write this review. The review may have been a rambling mess if I had written immediately. Tears were rolling down my face by the end as I had to let the characters go and as I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and happiness for Susan Dennard. I actually starting taking notes and categorizing my favorite moments on my phone. I actually think that I need to create a whole new shelf now JUST for this book. It's MAGICAL!!! It's AMAZING!!! It' EPIC!!! Order NOW!!! MUST READ! Thank you, Susan for creating and sharing such a phenomenal world for your readers!!! :-)
I really enjoyed this book! Truthwitch has a strong fanbase, although it's not as popular and hyped as Sarah J. Maas or Leigh Bardugo's novels. Still, devoted fanbases tend to signify a good book, and Truthwitch was no exception. The worldbuilding was spectacular and interesting. I really appreciated the variety of magic and the aesthetic of the setting - this did not feel like a traditional, western European-inspired fantasy. It had an oceanic feel, or Mediterranean, which a wide variety of settings. I really liked it. The characters were fun as well. I didn't love all of them, but the banter between Safi and Iseult was a blast! The relationships between characters and their rapport was well-done. I also really enjoyed the way each character used their witcheries. This definitely feels like the start to a series, but it was a good start with the right amount of creativity and worldbuilding. I'm here for the rest of the Witchlands series! *As a note, I was warned by a lot of people that the narration of the audiobook wasn't great. It's definitely each to their own, but I listened at 1.25x and didn't have any problems. :) So if you're an audiobook listener, I'd say it's still worth a try!
This was a fantastic book! Definitely one of my favorites and I'm ready to read the sequel, Windwitch. The world building is great. I love books where a map of the world is included. To me, that just seems like the author knew exactly what the world they were creating looked like and just adds so much more detail. The character building was top notch as well. I feel like I really got a good idea of what the main characters from this book were like. Safi is always running headfirst into trouble. She's been tutored and comes from a well to do family. But she's tough. And sassy. And above all, she loves the people close to her passionately, especially her Threadsister. Iseult seems like she's the one with the head on her shoulders and feet on the ground. She stands by Safi when she's getting into trouble. She helps form strategies. And basically, she's a badass fighter. I loved the relationship between Merik and Safi. There's tension. They definitely make each other angry. But you can tell they also really are starting to care for each other. I enjoyed this love story most because it didn't make up the entirety of the story. Many of these YA fantasy reads are all about the romantic relationship and once it starts, that's all that is focused on. I like books like that but I also love stories where the relationship isn't defined and squared away in the first book. These two have something brewing and I believe it's going to be epic and worth the wait. Susan Dennard has really written something beautiful with this first book. It looks like the next two books are going to focus on some of the more secondary characters and I think that's great.
Truthwitch is the first novel in the Witchlands series. So far there are three books in the series (if you count Bloodwitch, which isn’t out yet) as well as an illustrated novella, Sightwitch (it’s 2.5 in the series, for those that want to read everything in order). Based on the Goodreads listing I’d guess that there are at least two more books intended in the series. This couldn’t make me happier, as even though I’m only one book in I’m not ready to let go of this series just yet. Truthwitch exists in a world that has magic. It’s not quite like the magic you might be used to seeing in other series, but it is magic regardless. More than that though, everyone (at least the witches) have threads. Those threads show their emotions, their magic, and their ties to other people. There are Threadwitches that can read these threads. Likewise, because of the ties threads form, you can have family that isn’t biological. The main characters for this novel (Safiyah and Iseult) are threadsisters. There are also threadbrothers and heartthreads. I’m assuming that there’s even more than that, but that’s all I’ve seen so far. The whole idea is rather romantic, and I think that’s why I enjoy the concept so much. This novel caught me up right from the start. The very first chapter drew me in and held me enchanted right until the last page. I’m really not exaggerating either. I got so cranky every time I was forced to put this book down. It’s comical now, but at the time I wasn’t happy with the interruptions. I adore both Safi and Iseult. They’re both very different from one another, but they get along so well and work perfectly together. I really do feel like they are the perfect example of threadsisters, which may have been the point. Their dedication to each other is heartwarming, and I look forward to seeing them in future books together (okay, I’m making an assumption there, but I refuse to consider the idea of them not being together). While the title implies that it’ll be about a truthwitch (Safi), there was still plenty of room left to introduce other characters as well. Iseult is a threadwitch, as mentioned above, but there are also windwitches, bloodwitches, voicewitches, and so so much more. I’m sure I didn’t even see a tenth of the types that exist. Admittedly Safi probably gets the most attention in the book. She’s also the driving force between some of the main plots and politics going on. Speaking of, I absolutely adore the politics we’ve been shown in this novel. It makes total and complete sense that people would want to get their hands on a truthwitch, and I can so easily see how that would get abused (and likewise how the truthwitch wouldn’t want to get stuck in a life like that). I was pleasantly surprised by the romantic subplot. Maybe I should have expected one, but it was a nice surprise. It also was not too heavy handed either, and I liked the implications about their threads and everything tied in there (I’m trying to be a bit vague here for sake of spoilers). I can’t wait to get started on the next book in the series, Windwitch. I already have a strong suspicion of who that book will be predominantly focused on, and I honestly can’t wait to see what will happen.
I fell in love with the book from the first page! It is fast paced, has epic female friendships and an unexpected twist at the end. Oh boy!
“I hate this. Both the storm and the plan. Why does it have to be ‘we’? Why not just me?" “Because ‘just me’ isn’t who we are,” Iseult hollered back. “I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end.” Truthwitch, at its core, is a story about unconditional friendship. We meet Safi and Iseult as they’re trying to claim their freedom and build new lives. Their friendship rings heartily and true throughout the narrative and it’s refreshing to see both characters acknowledge their own flaws and each other’s and just be like, this is what we’ve got and what we’ve got is good, even with the messiness that sometimes comes from our actions and choices. They have very much chosen each other and continue to choose each other and will always choose each other at the end of the day. I particularly like how they complement each other; Safi being the impulsive, sometimes bordering on reckless, whirlwind of a girl and Iseult with her careful eyes and analytical quiet assessing their escape routes. It’s gorgeously rendered and a good anchor for the heart of the story. It also features a strong and impressive cast of secondary characters (who actually feel like main characters with all the attention and love their given) with their own subplots, arcs, and narratives. In fact, I’m sure a few of these characters who dart in and out of the paths of Safi and Iseult (or sometimes doggedly pursue them *cough* Aeduan *cough*) will capture your heart just as swiftly and completely (*cough* Aeudan *cough*). Truly, this cast of characters is both rich and beautifully-rendered. It’s very rare that I care about every character in a book/series, but Dennard left me with little choice in the matter here and I expect you’ll find yourself in a similar situation. Truthwitch is masterfully crafted with Dennard weaving multiple plotlines that come in and out of scope at the exact right time, rewarding the attentive readers with moments of AHA! that come back to tie up threads left dangling for a purpose. It’s incredible how seemingly insignificant things end up tying together nicely in future events. The tension builds slowly as the world and stakes unfold in front of us, watching two girls realize their destinies are much bigger than they had imagined try and figure out how to survive the danger of them. The world of The Witchlanders is ripe with history and culture, which is a daunting task for any author, but Dennard handles it with grace and precision. At first, readers might be a little intimidated and confused at the sheer breadth of it; the different types of witches and the magic that accompanies them, the political conflicts and intrigues playing out across the landscape, and the references to events that create the history of the universe can be a lot to take in, but I promise if you take your time and let the story breathe with you as you learn it’s shape, you will have taken the exact journey Dennard intended for you to take at the exact pace and it’ll be a truly rewarding reading experience. And that ending? Will leaving you reaching for the next volume stat. All in all, this is an excellent book that begins a series that will blow your mind and tug your heart. Don’t let the dense beginning stop you from experiencing the world of The Witchlands. It’s a complicated, magical, smart, difficult beast, but one you will love and recognize in ways that will haunt you for months after you finish reading. Good luck and enjoy,
Girl power and friendship, elemental magic, and epic destinies. Susan weaves in classic high fantasy elements with modern ideals for characters and does not leave you wanting. This book is action packed, sassy, and highlights so many characters with layers and layers of depth. The plotting and planning are expertly done and my enjoyment has only increased over each reread of this book. I am so excited for the rest of this series!
Girl power and friendship, elemental magic, and epic destinies. Susan weaves in classic high fantasy elements with modern ideals for characters and does not leave you wanting. This book is action packed, sassy, and highlights so many characters with layers and layers of depth. The plotting and planning are expertly done and my enjoyment has only increased over each reread of this book. I am so excited for the rest of this series!
Truthwitch is a book I’d been longing to read, but couldn’t find the time while out hunting for another book one day I stumbled across Truthwitch peering at me from the shelves, and I knew I had to bring it home with me. I let it sit on my nightstand for a little. After all it was something I knew deep in my bones I’d love. I don’t know how but I knew I would. And from that very first sentence, “Everything had gone horribly wrong” I was hooked. Dennard writes in such a way that you abscond on the journey with Safi and Iseult, maybe it was for this reason I couldn’t stop reading until I ran out of pages. Quick paced and quick witted it was everything I wanted. The characters are complex, and the threads connecting them even more so. The depth to the characters makes the characters come alive. Real enough I could feel their fire and passions, their losses and triumphs. This deeply layered backstory and understanding doesn’t stop with the characters, but we are introduced to a world as multifaceted as our own. I loved hearing the strife between the nations, and watching them interact. Not only were the intricacies between the nations well thought out, but we were able to see everyday life, including the prejudices of these people as well. As with most fantasy novels, one of my favorite aspects was the magic. There are Windwitches, Poisonwitches, Tidewitches, and so many more. I was blown away learning how their magic worked. Their restrictions. How the magics and witches interacted. It was incredibly unique to me to show that power not only depended on the type of witchery, but also on the wielders. We were able to see the difference between a full Windwitch and a Windwitch that can only harness some of the abilities of the wind. It was absolute perfection. I can’t wait to meet more people of this world as the series continues. I know that it will sweep me away. I was so enthralled in the story that at one point Safi raises her hand and I instinctively mirrored her. This is just an example of how tightly Dennard was able to wrap me in her world. I could see the threads of the people around Iseult and it was beautiful, enchanting, and beguiling. Please join me in the Witchlands, you’ll be glad you did.