After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined in an elaborate water trap, Kai wakes to find a lesser mage attempting to harness Kai's magic to his own advantage. That was never going to go well. But why was Kai imprisoned in the first place? What has changed in the world since his assassination? And why does the Rising World Coalition appear to be growing in influence? Kai will need to pull his allies close and draw on all his pain magic if he is to answer even the least of these questions. He's not going to like the answers.
A deeply immersive throwback to a beloved (and for me, foundational) species of 1990s fantasy doorstop, is full of cataclysmic intrigues between mostly immortal families, complete with map and dramatis personae ... Kai’s timelines play off each other wonderfully: Elements introduced in a dizzying rush of world building become welcome context for the flashbacks, which in turn escalate tension in the present. Wells is working at the height of her powers here, and it’s relaxing to be carried along for a ride in the company of such a phenomenal storyteller.
Regular readers of sci-fi know Martha Wells from her Murderbot Diaries ... Witch King is a fantasy novel about as far from Murderbot as it’s possible to get, and the fact that the author does it so well is a testament to her range and abilities ... What starts off seeming to be the tale of two vampiric lovers who kill and consume anyone in their way turns into a story far more complicated and fascinating ... Ms. Wells creates uniquely fascinating cultures and abilities for the people who live in her universe, including magic systems that are fully developed and beautifully described.
The complex and thoughtful Witch King is her return to the genre, a product of a master world builder with a flair for creating sweeping stories and lush settings ... The brilliance of Witch King is that it captures the feeling of this tentative peace with emotional depth but also has plenty of nail-biting moments of combat and dazzling magic, too. While its memorable characters and clear stance against authoritarianism are similar, Witch King is no Murderbot. Its prose is more lyrical and complex, less full of punchy one-liners (though there are flashes of the sardonic humor that marks Wells’ other hallmark series). What the two do share, however, is a compelling story that understands humanity at its best and worst—despite being told from the perspective of a robot or a demon.