Martha Wells: Witch King (Hardcover, 2023, Tordotcom) 4 stars

After being murdered, his consciousness dormant and unaware of the passing of time while confined …

Densely packed, unique world building with an exciting storyline that drives the narrative more than the characters do.

No rating

I initially was a little intimidated when I opened the book and was greeted with a list of names and titles from a world I didn't understand, but the characters are all described as they're introduced, such that I didn't ever need to page back to the list, so I worried for nothing. Martha Wells does an incredible job of fitting a lot of world building into a small space, doling out lore as necessary in a way that still sparks the imagination. And what a world it is! Layers of culture, powers, politics, and history unfold in two separate timelines with a scope that feels like a big adventure. Kai is a fun mix of snarky and competent, with other characters distinct, but not given quite as much attention. Overall, characters and their arcs to take a bit of a backseat to the plot and its mysteries. While this seems like it's probably a standalone book, I honestly wouldn't mind seeing these characters do more with a little more breathing room.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publishing Group for a review copy. All thoughts in this review are my own!