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
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world six out of seven continents (she'll get to Asia one of these days!) before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor. She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the Witchlands series, which includes the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch and Windwitch. When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, slaying darkspawn on her Xbox, or earning bruises at the dojo.
Visit her on the Web at www.susandennard.com.
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