Warrior and Witch by Marie Brennan

Oh man, I'm slipping. I have about 3 books I read recently that I should post about, but… laze, laze. Maybe I can do some shorter ones since I'm being a bum this week.

Warrior and Witch
Marie Brennan

This is the second book in what is so far a duology. I don't think a third book is currently planned – the author's website talks about another series that she's working on, not this one, but there seems to be room for more to happen in any case.

I posted about the first book – Doppleganger here. The premise is this – all witches are born with a doppleganger. This twin of the witch is born without a soul, and killed before she can be exposed to moonlight (and thus receive one). Somehow Miryo's dopplegangler Mirage survived and Miryo was tasked to kill "it" or be unable to control her magic and die. This is is the continuation of the story of what happens when Miryo and Mirage meet – and what they did. A lot of theory and questioning about the witches beliefs occur – about the Void and how it affects witches to travel through it, about the Cousins – their servants (some of them failed witches), the way witches get their powers and changes to how this is tradionally done.

There is a lot of upheaval in the customs of the witches because of Miryo and Mirage, and not everyone agrees with what happened. While most of the witches now believe dopplegangers should not be killed, many believe them to be abominations and disagree. A faction of witches leaves the witch stronghold of Starfall and attack it from outside. War amongst the witches begins. The faction would like to bring about the death of several young girls who are witches and their surviving dopplegangers, and topple the Primes that would protect them. This is an interesting situation because it clearly shows how beliefs felt strongly cause people go to war when they feel that there is no other way to prove that they are right. Both sides do questionable things in order to preserve their beliefs and win the war.

Liked:

1. I thought that illustrating the frustrations of both sides in the war was a huge strength of the book. You can see what incidents cause them to react the way they do and to understand the belief that they are right and those who oppose them are wrong.

2. Another strength was the way that the author managed to shift the focus temporarily away from the main character in a seamless way. It gives us different viewpoints and clues about what's going to happen and how one character is perceived by another (sometimes incorrectly).

Nit picky over:

1. While the story had forward momentum, I think that sometimes the author indulged a little bit too much answering her own what-ifs (what if a doppleganger did x? What would happen to her witch? etc). There were a couple of what-ifs that were answered too quickly in the timeline they occurred. Brennan created this interesting world and an interesting idea with the dopplegangers, but she didn't have to explore every idea that spun off of it. I thought a couple of incidents it didn't quite fit the story as a whole and only served to answer a what-if. I think they could have had their own separate stories, but not in this book.

2. The writing is solid and good, but it lacked something. Maybe it's my own personal feeling, but it felt a little flat because the characters could have been stronger. I knew who everyone was, I knew their motives and their emotions, that was well done, but I needed a little more to care more about them. I think I needed to know more about their personalities so I could get into reading what happens to them – not just their fears which I got, but their joys too. And maybe because of this, the emotional ties between characters felt a little off. Affection between characters – I didn't see much of this, and if I did, it wasn't always believable. This wasn't a HUGE glaring problem - but something I thought when I looked back – that the foundation was there – it just needed more give it kick.

When I think about this author, I would say that if you like Kristen Britain's books, you will like this.

General Feeling: 6 (Solid. Liked), Plot: 5.5 (OK, Liked) Writing Style: 6.5 (Pretty good, lacks a little emotional oomph). Recommended for straight fantasy lovers.

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