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The Witchlands is a series of fantasy novels by Susan Dennard, of which three have been published so far and two more are planned. In addition, there is a prequel book, Sightwitch, offset from the main series and containing some very important backstory information.
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In September 2018, it was announced that the series was being adapted into a TV show by the Jim Henson Company, with Dennard as executive producer.

On the eponymous continent, the five Origin Wells cause some people to be born as witches, gifted with supernatural powers. The devastating war to claim the Wells, fought between the various nations of the Witchlands, has only recently subsided thanks to the signing of the Twenty-Year Truce. Unfortunately, that happened nineteen years and four months ago, and permanent peace is nowhere in sight.

Not that Safi and Iseult care. A noblewoman and a runaway, both unregistered witches, they live in the capital of the Dalmotti Empire, learning, playing cards and righting wrongs. Safi, however, is more important than she'd like to be — she's the world's only living Truthwitch, a Living Lie Detector, and when her power is discovered, she's forced to run for her life, Iseult — herself a Threadwitch — the only person she can trust.

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On the other hand, Merik Nihar, a Windwitch and a prince, cares very much. His nation, Nubrevna, has been rendered barely habitable by the war, and the surrounding countries refuse to trade with it, hoping for easy prey after the Truce ends. Merik thinks he sees the light at the end of the tunnel when a Cartorran nobleman proposes a trade agreement, but there's a catch — to get it, Merik has to ferry one Safiya fon Hasstrel to Nubrevna. The seemingly simple task is complicated by the hordes of people trying to get their hands on Safi, chief among them Aeduan — a Bloodwitch monk working for a mysterious benefactor, capable of tracking down any living human.

And there are stranger things happening. All over the Witchlands, witches are Cleaving, turning into monsters. Beasts of legends are proving to be all too real. The mythical Voidwitches are popping up again, and they're up to no good. And in the ruins of the Republic of Arithuania, ignored by all, a new king has risen — and his ambitions stretch far beyond what he already has.

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Books:

  • Truthwitch (2015)
  • Windwitch (2016)
  • Sightwitch (2018): A prequel, much shorter than the other books, but absolutely must be read before Bloodwitch to understand everything.
  • Bloodwitch (2019)


Tropes present in the books:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Merik is absolutely beloved in the south of Nubrevna, with people throwing an impromptu celebration when he arrives in Noden's Gift. Less so in the north, though.
  • Abusive Parents: Merik and Vivia's father was emotionally abusive, deliberately setting the two against each other for, apparently, his own amusement.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Cisterns of Lovats are spacious enough to be The City Narrows, though given that Lovats lies on the crossroads of several massive rivers and a waterfall, the size might be quite appropriate.
  • Action Girl: Most women of note are warriors — Safi and Iseult make good use of their sword, knife and hand-to-hand combat training, Vaness is both a winner of the Superpower Lottery and a skilled fighter, Vivia is a Waterwitch who doesn't shy away from getting her hands dirty and Evrane is a Warrior Monk.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis: The city of Lovats, while still occupied, has several ancient features which the current society doesn't seem capable of creating. Most notably, it's pretty much unconquerable because of massive water bridges that are its only connection to the mainland — and then there's the rumoured undercity, a giant aglomeration built beneath regular Lovats.
  • Affably Evil: Esme is endlessly friendly and polite towards Iseult, even as she Cleaves hundreds of people and helps design a brutal conquest of the Witchlands.
  • The Alcoholic: Safi's uncle Eron is drunk most of the time, having descended into alcoholism after being dishonorably discharged from the Hell-Bards. Subverted in that it's an act — he's Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • All the Other Reindeer: Aeduan doesn't really feel like part of society, especially seeing how the society ostracizes him for what he is.
  • All There in the Manual: The map on the official website has some additional information about the nations of the Witchlands, especially those that haven't appeared in the story as of yet.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Prince Leopold and the rest of the conspirators. Do they actually have Safi's best interests in mind? What is their plan? Is it still going, or did the ending of Truthwitch send it completely off the rails?
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: According to the online map, Arithuania fell apart because its leaders allowed too much freedom, leading to anarchy and the nation disintegrating.
  • Anti-Magic:
    • Salamander skin is impervious to magic, rendering a person wearing it invisible to people like Aeduan.
    • The Hell-Bards are somehow resistant to all forms of witchery. It turns out that this is because they're technically Cleaved, with the process being halted by the chains they're wearing.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Purists are a religious faction which claims that all witches are evil and should be eradicated.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Ragnor is shaping up to be one for Aeduan.
  • Arc Villain: While Ragnor is the Big Bad, Merik's and Vivia's plot in Windwitch mostly focuses on one of his mooks who's trying to deliver Nubrevna into his hands.
  • Arc Words:
    • In Windwitch, the rhyme about the fool brother Filip leading his blind brother Daret into the Queen Crab's nest shows up quite a few times, with Merik wondering whether he's playing the part of Filip or Daret.
    • "Stasis" for Iseult. It's a state a Threadwitch should always be in and which she has trouble keeping to.
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    • Underplayed in Truthwitch; when Aeduan attacks Leopold, the latter manages to stop him in his tracks for a moment with:
      Leopold: You aren't the demon your father wants you to be.
    • In Windwitch, when Merik sneers that Cam is only nervous because Cam tries to hide from him that Cam's a girl, Cam answers with:
      Cam: Did you really think this was about that?! […] You see only what you want to see!
  • Assassin Outclassin': In the prologue to Windwitch, Merik manages to mortally wound the assassin that's been sent after him. Unfortunately, Garren is the "suicide bomber" type.
  • Attack Animal: When assassins come after Vaness at the Fire Well, they bring a firehawk with them to scatter her guards and make it easier to get to her.
  • Author Tract: Bloodwitch has several characters take a strong stance against patriarchy, often calling out the way some men dismiss women or manipulate history to erase them, which is rather sudden after Windwitch only concerned itself with gender inequality in one subplot, and Sightwitch and Truthwitch didn't talk about it at all.
  • Back-to-Back Badass: Safi and Iseult fight this way whenever they're outnumbered, which is often.
  • Badass Teacher: Habim and Mathew, Safi's and Iseult's teachers, are both excellent warriors and schemers.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Happens briefly in Windwitch when Aeduan and Owl travel together to escape the Contested Lands.
  • Badass Lesbian/Badass Gay:
    • Vivia is pining for her Threadsister, but she still has time to root out conspirators and kill assassins.
    • Mathew and Habim are a couple; one of them is The Spymaster, while the other is a retired Marstoki soldier still more than capable of kicking ass.
  • Bad Liar: Iseult tries to hide from Safi that she's a Voidwitch. Safi realizes Iseult's hiding something pretty much immediately, though she doesn't figure what, and assumes it's something utterly different.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People:
    • All Voidwitches so far have powers which don't seem to have much in terms of positive applications, and of the four, three are villains.
    • The main cause of Nubrevna's current run-down state is that vast swaths of the land have been rendered impossible to farm by Poisonwitches. Understandably, this trope is the general sentiment about them in the country.
  • Bad Powers, Good People:
    • The fourth Voidwitch in the series, Iseult, is definitely one of the good guys, and another is slowly doing a Heel–Face Turn.
    • The Marstoki Adders are Poisonwitches, but they're also Vaness' Praetorian Guard, and she considers them practically her extended family. They're absolutely loyal and dedicated to her protection.
  • Battle in the Centre of the Mind: Whenever Esme wants to get some information from Iseult's mind, she tries to break in and Iseult resists her. Usually, Esme wins.
  • Bear Trap: Early in Windwitch, Aeduan gets himself trapped in one when he blunders onto a Nomatsi road without realizing it, and it completely wrecks his leg. Good Thing You Can Heal, but even so he passes out from the blood loss.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Underplayed; when Iseult sees unconscious Aeduan, she notes that he looks far less terrifying and actually likeable when he's not on guard.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted; Safi is bruised and beaten in many a fight, and when her nose is broken, she notes that because they have neither a surgeon on hand nor a healer, it's going to stay crooked for the rest of her life.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Merik and Safi have this in spades. The first time they meet, first they're furious with each other for interfering, then they notice that the other looks nice, then Safi notices that Merik has an unbuttoned shirt and starts scolding him for it while he's irritated. Later, their journey to Lejna is filled with fights and arguments even as they're more and more attracted to one another.
    • Iseult references the nature of this trope when she says that Threads of love and hate are very similar in colour, to the point where she sometimes can't say whether it's one or the other.
  • Beneath the Earth: The undercity is a mythical settlement beneath Lovats, allegedly constructed by Earthwitches ages ago. Vivia spends large chunk of Windwitch searching for it to accomodate for the growing number of refugees flowing into Lovats. It turns out that it's real, and that the gangs — or, at least, the Nines — have known about it for a while now.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The easiest way to get Aeduan into a murderous frenzy is to imply that there are children being harmed nearby.
    • Merik has a short fuse in general, but his temper is even worse when people prioritize chit-chat over serious conversation.
    • Kritians have a chip on their shoulder when it comes to their neighbors. Quoth the map:
      If you want to upset a Kritian, then mistake him for a Portollan.
  • The Berserker: Underplayed with the Nihar rage — the Nihars are extremely Hot-Blooded and cursed with Hair-Trigger Temper. When Vivia feels it for the first time, she notes that it makes her more fearless, focused and gives a boost to her magic. Merik implies that there's some low-level magic to it.
  • Big Bad: Ragnor, the Raider King that rules over what used to be Arithuania.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • At the climax of Truthwitch, Iseult comes to Aeduan's aid when the latter is about to be killed.
    • In Bloodwitch, Safi's Hell-Bards help thwart an assassination attempt against Empress Vaness at the Fire Well.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Vaness doesn't get to relax on her birthday, since she's the Empress and it's a massive public event. Add to it the ever-rising threat of assassination, and it might just be the most stressful day of her year.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: When they're travelling to Tirla, Owl offers Aeduan earthworms as breakfast, and can't understand why he's disgusted.
  • Black and White Insanity: Caden accuses Safi of this, noting that it's easy for her to fall into this, as everything she sees and hears can be qualified as true or false. She retorts with saying that she is well aware that everybody lies, and it's Caden's actions specifically that she dislikes, not his falseness.
  • Blood Brothers: Threadbrothers and Threadsisters are people bound to each other by a very strong Thread, usually as a result of one saving the other's life, which is accompanied by really intense friendship; for example, Merik feels closer to his Threadbrother Kullen than to his actual sister.
  • Blow You Away: Airwitches have control over air; a Windwitch like Merik can create gusts of wind, scout the area ahead by sending wind there, and fly by summoning torrets of air. A full Airwitch, such as Kullen, can even summon storms.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: When Vaness and her Adders enter the fight in Lejna, she's the one who dishes out the most damage, not her guards.
  • Booby Trap: The Nomatsi trails are packed up to brim with traps, with stuff like fields of poisonous plants, hidden snares, thorns and even bear traps strewn about to stop anyone who doesn't know Nomatsi trail marks (and is therefore an outsider) from entering a clan settlement.
  • Bookends: Windwitch starts with Merik deciding that being dead has its advantages before jumping to Vivia standing, annoyed, in front of the door to the Battle Council. It ends with Vivia standing happily before the door to the Battle Council before jumping to Merik deciding that being alive has its advantages.
  • Bounty Hunter: The Carawen monks work like this, taking on various contracts — many of which involve tracking down people or reclaiming stolen property — for money.
  • Brainwashed: Esme's Cleaved are basically regular witches whom she changed by breaking all of their Threads save one and connecting the last one to something called the "Loom", which lets her control them. They range from mindless Slave Mooks to people who seemingly underwent a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Breaking the Fellowship:
    • While Merik, Safi and Iseult are together throughout most of Truthwitch, the end of it sees them scattered to the winds.
    • Iseult undergoes it again in Windwitch, as she and Aeduan split up so that she can take Owl to the Carawen monastery.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The Hell-Bards put Vaness in a collar to stop her from using Metalwitchery. When she wakes up, she promptly incapacitates the guy carrying her and would've run away if it wasn't for Lev.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Iseult cannot see Aeduan's Threads, and she discovers she's been so dependent on them, she's incapable of reading his body language to guess his emotions, bringing her down slightly beneath "normal" when she's traveling with him through an uninhabited wasteland.
  • Cain and Abel: Merik thinks about Vivia and himself in this way, though as it turns out in Windwitch, some degree of Unreliable Narrator is going on.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In Bloodwitch, Vivia finally calls her father out on his megalomania and the way he constantly dismisses her, trying to take the royal power back from her despite ostensibly passing it on, and treating her like a dumb child. She feels horrid about it (him being quite adept at manipulating her), but decides that the good of Nubrevna is more important than his ego.
  • Came Back Wrong: Kullen comes back from Cleaving with Casting a Shadow added to his powerset and a newfound desire to bring ruin to Lovats and deliver it into Ragnor's hands. Oh, and he's all but un-re-killable now. The fact that Esme was the one to Cleave him might explain this. The fact that he's one of the Twelve Paladins and may have been part of the half that did a Face–Heel Turn might, too.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Shadow Man from Windwitch can command darkness to engulf people, as well as use it to kill.
  • Caught in a Snare: When Iseult runs through a Nomatsi road to throw off a group of Cleaved pursuing them, she's so focused on them that she doesn't notice a snare and gets caught in it, hanging in a net from a tree branch. Fortunately for her, the road kills the other Cleaved, and she has her knife to cut herself free.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mathew's chain of cafés is mentioned at the start of Truthwitch as the front for his information-gathering network. It's not until Bloodwitch that one of the protagonists is in a position to make use of that.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Chiseled Cheater, the man to whom Safi lost money, which started the whole mess in the first place, shows up again in Windwitch, and turns out to be an officer of the Hell-Bards.
    • Ryber, Kullen's girlfriend, shows up again at the end of Windwitch to accompany Merik on his journey, and she implies that she knows far more than she should about Voidwitchery.
      • Ryber is the protagonist of the prequel Sightwitch, which reveals that she's the last of the Sightwitches, and that she's on a quest to prevent the end of the world.
    • Early on, Iseult mentioned that when she ran away from home, she was rescued by a Carawen monk. That monk eventually shows up in the form of Evrane.
    • In Truthwitch, Safi meets one of Merik's crewmembers, who contemptuously calls her "'Matsi-loving scum" for her friendship with Iseult. In Windwitch, she meets the same man in a Saldonica prison, and he tells her that Merik is dead.
    • During a dinner party in Truthwitch, Merik thinks with annoyance that everyone's partying and gossiping and completely ignoring important things, such as a new king rising in the ruins of the Former Republic of Arithuania. This new king is none other than the Big Bad.
  • Childhood Friends:
    • As kids, Safi and the Cartorran Prince Leopold used to be good friends, but they haven't seen each other for years by the time they meet again in Truthwitch. Nevertheless, they're on good terms.
    • The Nihar siblings and Serrit Linday were friends as kids, with Merik and Vivia playing in the Linday gardens with Serrit, but then Serrit devoted himself to politics and made a deal with Ragnor, making him Vivia's enemy in the Battle Council.
  • The City Narrows: The Cisterns, which form the Lovats sewer system, are home to most of the city's poor and serve as gang territories.
  • City on the Water: The seat of the Marstoki Empire is the Floating Palace, a massive complex sitting on the waters of the bay.
  • Colour-Coded Emotions: The Threads have various colours to indicate what they represent.
  • Combat by Champion: A small version at the end of Windwitch — instead of their groups both battling over the ship Safi's gang needs to take, she and the pirate captain fight for it one-on-one.
  • Compelling Voice: A Wordwitch, such as Mathew, can enforce their will on people by talking to them, even if the person doesn't want to do what they're told.
  • The Conspiracy: Eron has a plan to bring peace to the Witchlands. Unfortunately, it involves assassinating everyone who might try to restart the war, regardless of what kind of a person they are. Safi is not pleased when she finds out, especially since Vaness isn't evil, just devoted to her country, and vows to stop them as they're just going to make things worse.
  • Creepy Child: Esme is a teenager, probably younger than Iseult, who serves as The Dragon and has no trouble Cleaving dozens of people just because she feels like it.
  • Crisis of Faith: Aeduan has one when he starts to wonder whether Safi and Iseult could be the Cahr Awen. Eventually, he realizes that he doesn't believe the doctrine of his own faith anymore and becomes an atheist of sorts.
  • Curse: A Cursewitch can put a curse on a person; it's not clear as of yet what the curses exactly are, but they include a poison that creates a Wound That Will Not Heal and the ability to take away a person's witchery.
  • Dances and Balls: The Truce Summit that takes place during the first act of Truthwitch concludes in a ball where Safi's and Merik's mutual attraction begins and the story switches acts.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Oh, boy.
    • Iseult ran away from home shortly after Corlant started taking an unhealthy interest in her mother, and nearly died before she was discovered by a Carawen monk. She had to leave the monastery as well, and then almost died again before Safi saved her and they became Threadsisters. All the time, she had to manage the copious amounts of Fantastic Racism that all Nomatsi face — in the Dalmotti Empire, they're considered animals.
    • Aeduan apparently used to live in a Nomatsi settlement before something happened that made him terrified of fire, killed his mother and caused him to flee. He was found by a Carawen monk and joined the monastery, but he was ostracized there for being a Bloodwitch. At some point later, his father roped him into his schemes and convinced him that Aeduan should accept being a demon.
    • Cam grew up in a gang, and his brother wanted him to become another gangster. Adding to that, he's biologically a woman, and everyone in the Nines think that he's just pretending to be a boy for laughs. He joined the Navy to escape the life of crime, but it caught up with him anyway.
  • Darkest Hour: Merik spends the better part of Windwitch on the verge of Despair Event Horizon, but what almost sends him beyond it is Cam leaving him after declaring that he's too self-absorbed and fighting windmills. He almost gives in to his Fury persona before his worry for Cam and his sister's interference pull him back.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Sightwitch is one for Ryber.
  • Deadly Decadent Court:
    • Vaness describes the Marstoki court as this, and she wants Safi to root out the corruption.
    • The High Council feels this way to Vivia, as some of them conspire with other groups and nations, and others oppose her purely on the grounds of her being a woman.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Safi snarks a lot. To give a small sample:
    Safi: Do all Hell-Bards waddle like ducks, or is it just you?
  • Despair Event Horizon: Merik is at the verge of breaking down for most of Windwitch, as he grieves for Kullen and Safi (he doesn't know she survived), thinks his sister is villainous, believes that he's the only hope of the country and yet can't prove it and is scarred beyond belief, making him feel pain almost all the time.
  • Dirty Old Man: Emperor Henrick of Cartorra is in the upper half of middle age, and he's all too interested in teenage Safi — although it's unclear if he's really interested in her sexually, or only to subdue her and use her power.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: The Earthwitches, obviously, with more powerful ones being capable of summoning earthquakes.
  • Distressed Dude: Merik spends large parts of Bloodwitch kidnapped by Esme.
  • The Dragon: Esme is Ragnor's right hand, and she creates and manages his Cleaved army.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Shortly after we see that Safi has survived the attack on Vaness' ship, we cut to Merik being told that no one survived the explosion.
    • A similar thing happens in reverse at the end of Windwitch, when Safi's informed that Merik died.
  • Dream Spying: Esme uses her connection to Iseult to spy on her and her surroundings when the latter's asleep. Iseult also gets to have a look at Esme's tower in Poznin.
  • Drunken Song: Eridysi's Lament, which contains The Prophecy about the Cahr Awen, is best known throughout the Witchlands as the song that drunken sailors sing in every port.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Nomatsi have black hair and extremely pale skin. Combine that with the Fantastic Racism they face, and they're seen this way in most of the Witchlands.
  • Elective Mute: Owl doesn't speak, even though she's implied to be capable of it, likely because of whatever happened to her before Aeduan and Iseult met her.
  • Elemental Powers: Four out of the five Origin Wells are connected to the Classical Elements.
  • Element Number Five: The fifth Origin Well is Aether, which gives powers generally connected to the human mind. There's also the Void Well, which is a dark mirror of the Aether.
  • Elite Army:
    • The Marstoki Adders, being as they are Bodyguarding a Badass, are utilized by their Empress as an elite army. They're a group of highly trained warriors, all of whom are Poisonwitches.
    • The Cartorran Hell-Bards are a band of magic-resistant warriors with perfect discipline, tasked with hunting down rogue witches.
  • Enemy Civil War: Near the end of Windwitch, when the Baedyeds and the Red Sails are both searching for Owl, they each grow convinced that the other is about to betray them somehow to take the prize for themselves, and end up in a battle that makes it easier for Iseult and Aeduan to escape with both groups' target.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Cam considers Camilla to be one. Merik initially assumes that it's because Cam doesn't want anyone to know Cam's a girl, but it turns out Cam's transgender, and simply doesn't want to use a female name for himself.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • As a kid, Safi used to call Leopold "Polly". When she calls him this at the Truce Summit ball, he's visibly embarrassed — so of course she makes a point of calling him Polly a lot.
    • Esme dislikes the title Puppeteer, as she thinks it sounds childish. Nonetheless, that's how most people refer to her, including her boss.
  • The Empath: Threadwitches such as Iseult can see Threads, which allows them to see other's emotions, detect presence of other humans, and see the existence and nature of relationships between various people.
  • The Empire: The Witchlands have two:
    • Cartorra is the biggest nation in the land, and it's developed mostly through alliances and marriages, only recently turning to war. They're one of the biggest players on the political scene, and are mostly on the villainous side, thanks to their Emperor wanting Safi as his bride.
    • Marstok is a more benevolent variety, though they're combat monsters thanks to armies of Firewitches. They're friendlier, mostly because the Empress respects the fact that Safi is a person and not a commodity.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: In Fareast, anyone can connect with Threads of magic through proper training. Nomatsis, back when they were No'amatsi, used to be able to do that too, but centuries of living in Witchlands seem to have made this trait vanish.
  • Epiphany Therapy: In Windwitch, Safi finally manages to make a step from being reactive to being proactive when a Fire Hawk almost kills her and she has the "life flashes before your eyes" moment as it flies towards her.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Safi's first scene has her noting to herself that she betted all of her and Iseult's money on a card game and proceeded to lose it all because her opponent was dreamy.
    • In his first scene, Merik loses his temper at a gossip-filled dinner and storm off in haste, barely containing his fury.
    • Safi, Iseult and Merik both react to a sailor Cleaving not by running away, but by running towards him to help stop him.
  • Everyone Can See It: Merik is the last person aboard his ship to realize he's attracted (mutually) to Safi. Even Kullen, who's stuck in his cabin for large parts of the journey, notes that the two of them should have some "fun among the bedsheets" before Merik even figures out that he's infatuated.
  • Evil Former Friend: Serrit Linday used to be Vivia's friend before striking a deal with the Raider King.
  • Evil Old Folks: Emperor Henrick is a villain who wants to enslave Safi as his wife, and he's almost three times her age.
  • Evil Sorceress: Esme, a Weaverwitch who can create armies of Slave Mooks and helps Ragnor in his brutal conquest of Witchlands.
  • The Evil Princess: Merik thinks his sister is one, as he's convinced she's the one who ordered his murder. The truth is, she's just as devoted to Nubrevna's cause as he is, and had nothing to do with the assassination.
  • Excessive Mourning: Cam accuses Merik of this, noting that his grief is making him barely functional and incapable of seeing the truth right in front of his eyes.
  • Extra-ore-dinary: Metalwitches like Vaness can, obviously, control metal, to the point of reshaping it as if it was a liquid.
  • Eye Colour Change: Sightwitches' eyes turn silver when they are granted the gift of Sight by their goddess. It happened to Eridysi and Ryber too, despite them not having the Sight.
  • Face–Monster Turn: Kullen switches sides thanks to Esme Cleaving him.
  • Faking the Dead: Merik is presumed dead after his ship is blown up, and he chooses not to correct this assumption, noting that being dead has its advantages.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Nomatsi people are downright hated, to the point of a manhunt being started when Iseult's ethnicity is recognized by a man on the street. It's mentioned that in the Dalmotti Empire, they have the same status animals do, and while they're allowed to have settlements outside cities, they booby-trap the hell out of all roads leading to them for fear of a lynch.
    • The Voidwitches are despised by everyone — Aeduan is routinely called a demon. Granted, Bad Powers, Bad People is true for most of them, but one could ask whether that's where the racism comes from, or if this is what the racism causes.
    • Interestingly, all four Voidwitches seen in the series so far are either full or part Nomatsi.
  • Fantastic Slur: The Nomatsi are called Matsis by people who despise them. The meaning of that is unclear, but Safi gets rather agitated when Iseult is called this.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Appliance:
    • Firewitched lamps serve in place of streetlights, as they don't require fuel.
    • Voicewitches are pretty much human telephones, connecting themselves to Voicewitches in other places and repeating words they hear from them. Iseult manages to rig her and Safi's Threadstones to fulfill a similar function, although only when Safi is asleep.
    • Pots of Firewitched oil are used as bombs, and Merik owns a pistol where the ignition mechanism is Firewitchery rather than a chemical compound. Presumably, cannons work similarly.
    • In Bloodwitch, Vaness has two scrolls made that act like a two-way chat, with everything written on one appearing on the other and vice versa, even wiping themselves clear once they're full.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Dalmotti is very much Venice writ large — they're ruled by a Doge, they're a republic and their capital is Veñaza City.
    • The brief description of Svoden on the map makes it seem very much like a Horny Vikings-land.
    • The Saldonica pirates bear more than a little similarity to the Barbary ones, including slave-taking, owning land and ports and hailing from a desert region.
  • Fantasy Pantheon:
    • The seafaring nations of the Witchlands, like Nubrevna and Saldonica, share a similar pantheon. The Top God is Noden, who's associated with sea but rules over everything, and sits in the depths on a coral throne. He's served by the Hagfishes, who act as the Psychopomps. Additionally, there are two lesser deities. The Fury is the horribly scarred god of judgement and vengeance, whom people fear to worship, while Lady Baile differs from country to country — in Nubrevna, she's a benevolent deity that carries prayers from people to Noden, while in Saldonica, she has Gladiator Games dedicated to her.
      • Sightwitch reveals that Lady Baile and the Fury were based on the Paladins Baile and her lover Bastien, who fought against the Exalted Ones.
    • The Nomatsi worship a protective deity called the Moon Mother.
    • Sightwitch introduces the sleeping goddess Sirmaya, hinted to be keeping the world in existence. And she's in danger of dying, which is very bad.
  • Fatal Flaw: Each of the four main POV characters has one that bites them in the back:
    • Safi: recklessness.
    • Iseult: Heroic Self-Deprecation.
    • Merik: feeling more important than he actually is.
    • Aeduan: trust issues.
  • Fights Like a Normal: While both Iseult and Safi are witches, neither has any offensive abilities so they fight like non-witches do, only using their powers to detect enemies. Though this might change now that Iseult knows she's a Weaverwitch.
  • Fingore: Cam gets one of his fingers cut off when his brother tries to get him to join the Nines.
  • Flashback: Aeduan gets several, particularly in his eponymous book.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Owl, the girl Aeduan rescues, has a mountain bat bonded to her.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Owl's "pet" is called Blueberry.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Safi's annoyed to find out that the Chiseled Cheater — now revealed to be a Hell-Bard officer on the hunt for her — is still very attractive. They eventually grow to be friends of sorts.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on, when Safi and Iseult go for Back-to-Back Badass, the Carawen monks hunting them note that it looks like they formed the Cahr Awen symbol. It turns out they're the last in the long line of Cahr Awen pairs.
    • Aeduan's inability to smell Iseult, along with Iseult's inability to create Threadstones (like the Puppeteer), the mention that Threadwitches can't see each other, Aeduan noting that Cahr Awen are always a pair of an Aether- and a Voidwitch and Iseult's connection to Esme all point very clearly to Iseult being a Voidwitch, not an Aetherwitch — specifically, a Weaverwitch rather than a Threadwitch.
    • When Esme shows Iseult how Cleaving works, she mentions that the man she uses as an example used to have a Threadbrother, and somehow the connection between them survived the Cleaving. The last Merik saw Kullen, the man was leaving because he's been Cleaved. So why does Merik feel like there's something tethering him to the Shadow Man, and how did he survive the ship's explosion?
    • Vivia, Stix and Ryber are all women serving in the Navy and nobody makes a big deal of it, so a careful reader might question Merik's assumption that Cam's a Sweet Polly Oliver.
    • In Bloodwitch, after the Hell-Bards save Vaness from an assassination attempt, Habim, who is a member of Eron's conspiracy and knows Safi well, has them tortured, hinting that the conspiracy isn't quite that noble in their methods, however well-intentioned they see their goals as being.
    • Also in that book, one of Aeduan's first flashbacks mentions that his father used to have another family, a wife and two daughters, which should sound familiar if you've read Sightwitch. Then there's the fact that Aeduan's mother's called Dysi.
  • Friendly Enemy: Esme considers Iseult to be her friend and is very warm towards her, being happy when she manages to see her in their dream and showing off her Weaverwitchery abilities. She's also genuinely worried for Iseult's well-being and offers her help. This being said, this help would probably end with Ragnor making Iseult his slave.
  • Friend to All Children:
    • Aeduan is surprisingly good with children — among others, he's the only person Owl is willing to listen to.
    • Iseult is an inversion — she cannot stand kids and would rather be anywhere else than them.
  • Functional Magic: Witchery is very clearly divided into six categories, with each category having a given set of abilites and the witches being able to use one set in a predictable way. It's used by armies, businesses, regular people...
  • The Gadfly: Safi likes to annoy people around her to see their reactions and lighten the mood.
  • Gang of Hats: The Lovats gang called Nines marks their members by cutting off their left pinky — hence the name. As a bonus, it makes them easily recognizable for a man looking for an assassin who was missing a left pinky.
  • The Generation Gap: Because the Witchlands have been at peace for the past twenty years, there's an entire generation that's never known war (labelled the "Truce Children"), while their parents and grandparents have fought it most of their lives. This leads to a lack of understanding between the two groups, as the older generations consider war returning to be inevitable while many Truce Children still try to prevent it or don't understand what they're getting into.
  • Genius Loci: The continent of Witchlands sits on the back - both metaphorically and somewhat literally - the sleeping goddess Sirmaya, whose dreaming keeps it existing, and whose nature influence how magic manifests. Esme mentions that Fareastern continent has its own sleeping goddess, which is why there, magic is Enlightenment Superpower rather than inborn.
  • The Ghost: The Big Bad, Raider King Ragnor. He's behind the entire grand plot of the story, he's Esme's, Aeduan's and Corlant's boss and he has many allies in other Witchlands countries who make life harder for the heroes, but he doesn't make a proper debut until Bloodwitch... not to mention his role in Sightwitch, as well.
  • Ghost Town: Lejna. Once the main port of Nubrevna, ever since Poisonwitches turned the land and waters of the southern parts of the country into a Polluted Wasteland, it's been abandoned, the only visitors people who wish to slip under the radar for one reason or another.
  • Gladiator Games: The Pirate Republic of Saldonica has arena fights between enslaved witches as their main form of entertainment, as well as religious celebration.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Aeduan is the only POV character gifted with a Healing Factor, and he's getting hurt, cut, pierced with blades and hit with arrows several times more than the other three combined. At some point, he gets more than two dozen arrows stuck in him, including one through the heart, and he keeps on going.
  • Greek Fire: The Witchlands version is called seafire, and it's apparently Firewitched in some way. It's far more aggressive than historical Greek fire, and the sheer mention of it has sailors terrified.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Vivia is extremely jealous of her brother, especially his status as an admiral, and she's convinced that he had everything given to him on a silver platter while she had to work for what she has.
  • Green Thumb: Plantwitches. They can control growth of flowers and make them grow far more than what the land would usually permit.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: The vast majority of Witchlanders aren't evil; they're simply trying to protect their families and their countries, leading to conflicts of interests.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: All Nihars, especially Merik, are very quick to anger, which can manifest in violent discharges of magic.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: By the end of Windwitch, Aeduan isn't Iseult's enemy any longer, and doesn't seem to be following Corlant's orders, but it's hard to say on whose side he's now. By the end of his own book, he's firmly against his father.
  • Healing Factor: Aeduan's Bloodwitchery lets him heal shredded bones, keep walking even after turning into a Human Pincushion and survive wounds that no normal man would.
  • Healing Hands:
    • Waterwitches can heal injuries and illnesses related to blood and other body fluids.
    • Bloodwitches can keep a person alive even if they should be dead by forcing blood to stay inside a person and continue to course through their body.
    • Firewitches can heal inflammations and muscle-related injuries.
    • Earthwitches can heal broken bones.
  • Healing Spring: The chief difference between a living Origin Well and a dead one is that the living ones can heal any person submerged in their waters.
  • The Heavy: While Ragnor is the Big Bad, Esme is the chief enemy so far, as the creator of the Cleaved who are plaguing the heroes.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The map notes that Cartorra has mostly grown through marriages and alliances, and many countries seek their protection because of how good they are at it.
  • Heir Club for Men: Downplayed; while Vivia can inherit the Nubrevnan throne despite having a younger brother, the Councilmen give her a lot of grief for being a woman and try to marry her off to have a man on the throne. Vivia also notes that while there's no rule about the gender of the Council members, somehow every woman eligible to be one ends up sending her male relative in her stead, at least until the end of Windwitch.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation:
    • Iseult is made of this trope. She keeps on underestimating herself, thinking that she's unimportant and merely a small addition to the main treasure that is Safi. She keeps on thinking that her mother and her apprentice are both better Threadwitches, and Iseult is to be blamed for this. She doubts herself all the time, and punishes herself in her head when she dares to dream about a better future for herself.
    • Vivia is a badass and capable princess, yet she keeps on thinking that the person she's in love with doesn't deserve her and will never notice her in any way other than a friend.
  • Heroic Willpower: When Esme Cleaves every Marstoki witch in Lejna, Vaness manages to resist it by sheer force of will.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Merik and Kullen. They've been friends since childhood, always serve together on the same ship and care deeply for each other, even if Kullen has a lover and Merik's developing feelings for Safi.
    • Safi and Iseult have lived together since their tween years and are practically inseparable, to the point that Iseult's entire goal in Windwitch is to return to Safi's side.
  • The High Queen: Empress Vaness is very regal, focused solely on the wellbeing of her people, and capable both in combat and in the game of politics.
  • Hope Crusher: Briefly; Aeduan claims that the Water Well was only half-healed to dissuade Iseult from believing in Cahr Awen. He quickly realizes what he did when she's saddened as his words, and what he said really does make her grieve and blame herself even more than she already is.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Merik has a Hair-Trigger Temper which causes him to act very energetically and adds extra force to all he does.
    • Safi is very impulsive and doesn't really hold back once she gets angry.
  • Hostage Situation: Lizl decides that the best way to get the bounty on the Raider King is to kidnap his son, Aeduan.
  • Hunter of Their Own Kind: The Hell-Bards are unregistered witches that have been caught and pressed into service to hunt down other unregistered witches, as well as Cleaved, robbing them of their powers.
  • Human Pincushion: At the climax of Windwitch, Aeduan has over a dozen arrows stuck in him.
  • Human Popsicle: The ultimate fate of all Sightwitches is to be frozen in chambers deep below their convent to sleep with their goddess. In addition, Eridysi's journal reveals that, 1,000 years before, a large number of refugees fleeing from a war between the Twelve Paladins were frozen there to protect them, including all of the Sightwitches at the time. Eridysi, her lover the Rook King's general, and his daughters were as well — but when Ryber finds the chamber they were frozen in, Eridysi and the general are gone...
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Icewitchery is one of the Water witcheries.
  • An Ice Person: Icewitches can, like their name implies, create cold and freeze stuff. Ragnar uses them to freeze one of Nubrevna's border rivers when he mounts his attack.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Safi is technically the Domna of Hasstrel, but says that the Hasstrel estates are run-down and practically owned by the Crown.
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: When Aeduan and Iseult strike a deal — that he'll help her find Safi and she'll return his stolen money — he notes that there's nothing stopping him from torturing the information out of her, and there's nothing stopping her from hanging him out to dry, so it's going to be a game of who betrays whom first. In the end, neither does.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Esme holds Merik captive in Bloodwitch, she's quite insistent that her people are the "No'Amatsi", not "Nomatsi", and definitely not the slur "Matsi".
  • Internal Reveal:
    • The readers who didn't figure out that Iseult is a Weaverwitch could probably be counted on one hand by the time she shows her power to Aeduan.
    • Merik only learns that Safi is a Truthwitch three-quarters through her eponymous novel.
    • We know from the start that Leopold is part of the scheme to get Safi out of Emperor Henrick's hands, but Aeduan only realizes that at the end of Truthwitch.
  • I Owe You My Life: The Nomatsi have a concept of a life-debt, wherein when someone saves your life, you're obliged to either repay them in kind or spare them if fate brings you into conflict. It gives Iseult and Aeduan many headaches.
  • I Reject Your Reality: In Windwitch, grief-maddened Merik absolutely rejects the idea that his sister wasn't behind the assassination attempt on him, even though there's no proof she was and there's ample proof she wasn't.
  • Irony: Kullen is an extremely powerful Airwitch, and Airwitches have to breathe to use their powers. He has asthma.
  • I Shall Taunt You: When Leopold finds Vaness aboard her ruined ship after her run-in with Merik, he spends his visit taunting her.
  • It's All About Me: Merik's Fatal Flaw, as he realizes. He's convinced that the navy, the country and the people of Nubrevna are doomed without him and only him sitting on the throne will save it from utter destruction wrought by his sister. The reality is... less dramatic.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Early in Bloodwitch, Iseult thinks about how Safi would handle her current situation way better, only to cut to Safi thining the exact same thing about Iseult.
  • Jerkass: Corlant. He deliberately makes Iseult uncomfortable when she comes back home to show her who's the boss, threatens to take away Gretchya's powers if she doesn't sleep with him and acts with smug superiority towards Aeduen just because he can.
  • Jerkass Realization: Merik has one when Cam leaves and he realizes that he was right about him going full-on I Reject Your Reality and It's All About Me.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Vivia. She's abrasive, easily annoyed and when she's told that her brother died, her reaction is to be happy that one more obstacle in her way has been removed. This being said, she's just as dedicated to the wellbeing of Nubrevna as Merik is, gives up food she's stockpiled for the poor of Lovats and is absolutely overjoyed upon learning that Merik is alive, not blaming him for his actions as Fury at all and helping him out the best she can.
  • King Incognito:
    • Merik ultimately decides not to reveal that he's alive, and he goes into the Sirmayan mountains pretending to be just another traveller in search of food.
    • After their shipwreck, Vaness and Safi decided to hide the fact that the former is the Marstoki Empress. Played for Laughs when Safi decides (jokingly) that the best way would be to refer to Vaness as "Unempress".
    • In a rare non-royal example, Safi is shocked to learn that her mentor Habim is a retired Marstoki general famous enough that his return is significant enough to interrupt the empress' diplomatic meeting.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: 1,000 years before, most of the Twelve Paladins, a set of extremely powerful witches who reincarnate upon death, were killed with a weapon that prevented them from remembering their past lives upon their next rebirth. This had the effect of making the population of the Witchlands believe they were gone for good.
  • Last of Her Kind: Ryber Fortiza is the last Sightwitch not to be called into the mountain to sleep with their goddess. Ironically, she is only the second Sightwitch in history not to have the Sight that gives them their name.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: The Witchlands are flanked by the Middle Sea from South and West, and connected to another continent by North and East, much like Europe.
  • Legacy of the Chosen: The Cahr Awen are pairs of witches appearing in various periods of history and performing great deeds, including awakening dead Origin Wells. Safi and Iseult are the latest in the long line.
  • Living Lie Detector: Truthwitches, like Safi, can instantly state whether someone's telling a truth or a lie. Safi can also note whether someone is true or false (for example, people hiding their identity), and knows when people intend to harm her.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: It turns out Merik wouldn't have survived the explosion of his ship if it wasn't for his connection to his Cleaved Threadbrother. As long as this connection exists, he'll live, but according to Kullen, Merik will die if either Kullen dies or the Thread is broken.
  • Little Miss Badass: Vaness in her backstory. One of the last battles before the Truce saw her bring down an entire mountain upon her enemies. She was seven.
  • Long Game: Whatever Eron and Mathew are planning, it demanded they wait until the Truce is almost over and that Eron spend years pretending to be a drunkard.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Vivia manages to get piracy going without breaking the Truce — the Truce states that no side can destroy or loot vessels of another side, and Vivia's Foxes take over the ships and sail them to Lejna, where their cargo is peacefully taken ashore.
  • Made of Iron: Merik, especially in Windwitch. The amount of injuries, fights and beatings he undergoes would be enough to fell ten men, even those who aren't horribly scarred and still hurting with every step they take like he is.
  • Magical Accessory:
    • The chain that marks a person as a Hell-Bard, called a noose, is a magical item stopping them from Cleaving fully and makes them impossible for mind-altering or mind-reading witches to influence.
    • The paired stones on the necklaces Iseult and Safi wear starting blinking when the owner of the other one is in danger. They also allow the two to talk in Safi's dreams.
  • Magically Binding Contract: The Twenty Year Truce and other Wordwitched documents. Each copy of it is identical to all others even if changes are made, and if one side breaks it, their signature disappears from it, signifying that no-one else is bound to it either.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Implied; legends have it that witches used to be far more powerful than they are now. Sightwitch adds more details to this.
  • Magitek: The Witchlands use Firewitched pistols, explosives and lamps, create Threadwitched stones that can serve as communication channels, have Wordwitched contracts that act like Wikipedia articles, and more.
  • Making a Splash: Waterwitches. More powerful ones, like Stix, can control all states of it and switch it between them. Mid-level, like Vivia, can use to carry them and propel themselves in the water (though not to the extent of Not Quite Flight like Airwitches can do), as well as control it like pet snakes. Low-power Tidewitches can manipulate tides to propel a boat forward when working in concert, for example.
  • Master of Illusion: Glamourwitches can create illusions, both on themselves and on their surroundings.
  • Matriarchy: Marstok is mentioned to be a matriarchal society by the online map.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The climax of Windwitch has two:
    • Safi, Vaness and their company are fighting their way through an arena where slavers and freed slaves are battling.
    • Iseult and Aeduan and Owl are trapped in a battle between them and two pirate clans who have recently turned on each other as well.
  • Missing Mom: Merik and Vivia's mother threw herself off a bridge when the former was seven.
  • Mob War: Happens at the end of Windwitch between the two pirate gangs as they both want to be the ones to bring Owl to Ragnor.
  • Mundane Utility: Safi often uses her Truthwitchery to win card games.
  • Mutual Disadvantage:
    • No Threadwitch can see the Threads of another Threadwitch, leaving Iseult (who's never learnt to read body language) incapable of reading her mother.
    • Iseult and Aeduan cannot perceive each other's "magical components" (Threads and blood smell).
  • Mysterious Waif: Owl. She's a little Nomatsi girl who doesn't speak and who's for some reason extremely important for Ragnor. Also, she has a mountain bat under her control, which is something neither Iseult nor Aeduan can explain.
  • Necromancy: A Weaverwitch can Cleave, turning witches into Technically Living Zombies under their control.
  • The Nicknamer: Safi likes to give people nicknames, especially ones that annoy them.
  • No Name Given: Sightwitch has Eridysi's lover, the Rook King's general, as well as the Rook King himself.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Dalmotti Empire is actually a republic, ruled by elected Guildmasters presided over by the Doge.
  • No One Should Survive That: Played for drama when Merik wonders how he could possibly survive his ship exploding. Turns out he's Living on Borrowed Time.
  • Not Quite Flight: Windwitches "fly" by manipulating air currents to carry them.
  • Not So Different: Vivia and Merik, as it turns out. Both have a short fuse, both care deeply about their subjects, both don't accept people disagreeing with them, both have serious issues with their father's approach to things, both think the other is a nuisance at best and an active threat to Nubrevna at worst.
  • Not-So-Safe Harbor: Saldonica, a nation ruled by two pirate groups, always hungry for Gladiator Games. The Baedyed part of it is actually very well-maintained, but the Red Sails half is a Wretched Hive.
  • Not Worth Killing: Illrya, per the map, has never been conquered mainly because its land is utterly undesirable for anyone who doesn't already live there.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Leopold pretends to be a spoiled, dandy princeling to hide his part in Eron and Mathew's Long Game.
    • Eron spent a dozen years faking alcoholism so that people would underestimate him.
  • Official Couple: Merik and Safi get together at the end of Truthwitch. Of course...
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: ...they're instantly separated, and later convinced that the other has died.
  • Oh My Gods!:
    • People who worship Noden often curse by the Hagfishes.
    • Iseult often invokes the Moon Mother.
  • Omniglot: Wordwitches can speak any language.
  • One-Man Army: Aeduan. He has an insane Healing Factor, can run and react faster than any other man and can freeze people in place with a wave of his hand. At one point, he takes down seven armed men in less than thirty seconds.
  • Only in It for the Money: Aeduan agrees to assist Iseult because she promises to tell him the location of his stolen money, ignoring the fact that Corlant ordered him to bring her to him.
  • Opposed Mentors: Ragnor and Evrane for Aeduan. The former makes Aeduan believe that he's a demon and should be nothing more than a weapon, while the latter believes that he has goodness in him and should assist the newly-manifested Cahr Awen.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Mountain bats are winged serpents with heads of bats, large enough to bite a man in half. They're carrion eaters and often prey on former battlefields.
  • Out-Gambitted: Upon being captured, Vaness decides to put her recent treaty with the Baedyeds to good use and deliberately shows herself to them so that they'd rescue her. Unfortunately, they've already been planning to betray her, because they want more than the treaty gives them.
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: The three plotlines of Windwitch all come to a climax at the same time, and the narrative jumps between them.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Stix always seems to squint menacingly at people. Subverted when it's mentioned that she's doing that not to intimidate people, but because she's near-sighted.
  • Personality Powers: Several characters have personalities that match their powers — Merik's temper is pleasant, but can suddenly pick up the way wind can, Iseult the Threadwitch is calm and methodical, Fury/Kullen is overwhelming and tempestuous like a hurricane, there's a Firewitch with a short temper and so on.
  • Pet the Dog: Near the end of Windwitch, Aeduan gets a small girl to care about.
  • The Phoenix: Fire Hawks are an underplayed example — they're "birds" made of fire, but they're not very big and rebirth is never mentioned.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • Vaness is a small woman who once brought a mountain down on the heads of people she was fighting.
    • Owl is a little girl with a pet mountain bat and the ability to cause earthquakes.
  • Pirate: Two varieties:
    • The Baedyeds are disenfranchised people of a desert called the Baedyed Sand Sea, who turned to piracy. They attack all ships and capture slaves, but they're the better of the two Saldonica gangs.
    • The Red Sails are the evil-er counterpart to the Baedyeds, without the backstory. They're slavers, but rarely show mercy to their victims.
  • Place of Power: The Origin Wells — Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Aether, and Void — are where the witches' powers come from. The location of the Void Well, unlike the others, is unknown, but it might be the glowing pool under Lovats.
  • Playing Possum: When a group of Baedyeds is searching the shore for any sign of life on the battlefield, Iseult covers her pale skin and pretends to be one of the killed Red Sails.
  • Playing with Fire: Firewitches, like Habim, can, as their name implies, control fire. They can also create crystals that produce smokeless light or lightless heat.
  • Polluted Wasteland: Southern Nubrevna. During the war, Poisonwitches rendered the earth and water there toxic, turning it into an uninhabited, dead land where the only signs of life are dried-out trees.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Early in Windwitch, Iseult is pursued by a group of Cleaved and leads them onto a Nomatsi road, which they can't navigate, killing them. Some time later, she has a dream conversation with Esme, who tells her that she actually Cleaved those men and sent them after Iseult to help her — they were carrying food and one of them had hunting gear to give Iseult.
  • Power Crystal: Some witches can store their powers into crystals — most commonly quartz — so that they can be used by someone without their particular form of witchery. The most common are painstones that nullify pain, and Safi tries to make a truthstone in Bloodwitch.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • Safi's Truthwitchery is always on.
    • After Iseult Cleaves a Firewitch, she finds herself accidentally starting fires with her mind when her self-control slips.
  • Power Nullifier: The Hell-Bards have metal collars which stop active witcherynote  from being used by anyone wearing them.
  • The Power of Blood: A Bloodwitch like Aeduan can distinguish a person by the smell of their blood and then track them down even across the sea. They can also control blood in people's veins; while it doesn't work to the same extent as bloodbending, it lets Aeduan freeze people in place and kill them by stopping their blood from flowing.
  • Power of the Void: The Void is one of the six elements and the counterpart of Aether, with some Voidwitch powers being similar to their Aether counterparts (like Weaverwitchery and Threadwitchery). Several Voidwitches are important characters.
  • Power Parasite: Cleaving someone seems to have some form of it as a side effect, at least for Iseult, albeit with a major case of Power Incontinence and aquiring some of the Cleaved person's character traits.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Adders are elite bodyguards of the Marstoki Empress. They're notable in-universe for all of them being Poisonwitches.
  • Prequel: Sightwitch, a side book starring Ryber that mainly takes place the year before the other two books. It reveals a number of very important details about the setting and plot.
  • Price on Their Head: The Raider King has an increasing one. By the time Aeduan checks in with a Carawen outpost, it's over 50,000 in three different currencies.
  • Primal Fear: Aeduan is deathly scared of fire.
  • Privateer: The Foxes are corsairs in service of the Nubrevnan crown.
  • The Prophecy: Eridysi's Lament is a prophecy about the circumstances of the next coming of the Cahr Awen, writen by a Sightwitch.
  • Psychic Link: Two witches who share a close bond can become Threadsiblings, linking their minds with a particularly strong Thread that survives even Cleaving. Most of the time, a Thread like this simply makes one Threadbrother or Threadsister far more aware of the other's feelings, but as it turns out, it can also keep one Threadsibling alive when they should be dead, or be harnessed for straight-up long-range telepathy, if you know what you're doing.
  • Psychopomp: Worshippers of Noden believe in the Hagfishes, a group of spirits whose job is to carry the souls of the dead to Noden.
  • A Pupil of Mine, Until He Turned to Evil: Evrane thinks this way about Aeduan — she was his mentor when he was in the Carawen monastery.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • After Kullen's death, Ryber disappears from Merik's ship, leaving behind only a note that he shouldn't follow her. In this case, The Bus Came Back by the end of the next novel.
    • When the plot moves from the south of Nubrevna to Lejna, Evrane stays behind in Noden's Gift.
    • Gretchya tells Iseult that she's escaping to Saldonica with her student, and hasn't been seen since.
  • The Quiet One: Aeduan doesn't talk much.
  • Rage Breaking Point:
    • When the High Council makes it clear that they won't treat Vivia as an equal, she goes straight to Tranquil Fury.
    • Merik has to suffer through small talk and gossip, and rage burns in him until a Rant-Inducing Slight breaks the dam and lets his rage flow.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Merik is already at the edge of breaking into Unstoppable Rage during a formal party, so an innocent comment from his dining partner about relationship gossip sends him over the edge.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After putting up with Merik's Excessive Mourning for a long time, Cam finally has enough and tells the prince to his face that he's being a jerkass who refuses to see what's inconvenient to his mindset, then leaves him.
  • Reality Ensues: Safi gets a few of those moments.
    • Near the climax of Windwitch, she has to fight a pirate queen one-on-one. Obviously, a teenager with some knife training will not defeat a woman who spent decades fighting people, and Safi only "wins" because the latter wants something from her.
    • Afterwards, she decides to Take The Third Option in regards to the Hell-Bards (see the relevant trope). However, it quickly becomes apparent that of course the Marstoki politicians won't agree to foreign militia traipsing around their palace, so she has to send them away anyway.
  • Red Baron:
    • Merik is called the Fury when he's incognito, thanks to his actions and his scarred face making him look like a local deity.
    • Ragnor the Raider King.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Safi is Red to Iseult's Blue. The former is impulsive, rash and self-confident, while the latter is calmer, more analytical and more prone to self-doubt.
    • When Safi and Vaness travel together, Vaness is Blue to Safi's Red, being more of a schemer and taking everything in with quiet dignity.
    • Merik and Kullen. The former has a Hair-Trigger Temper and is bound to flights of emotion, while the latter is calmer and has more distance to the world around him.
  • Reformed Criminal: Cam used to be a gangster before joining the navy to escape a life of crime.
  • Reincarnation: Sightwitch reveals that the Twelve Paladins, the very first witches, are a case of this. In the present day, they are believed to have been killed for real because in a war 1,000 years before where half of them had had Face-Heel Turns, most of them were killed with a weapon that ensured they would not remember their past lives upon being reborn.
  • Religious Bruiser: Evrane is a trained warrior-monk and a fanatical believer in the Cahr Awen.
  • The Reveal: Quite a few.
    • Safi's uncle was faking being an alcoholic all along.
    • Iseult is a Weaverwitch like Esme, rather than a Threadwitch.
    • Ragnor is Aeduan's father.
    • The Hell-Bards are Cleaved witches held at bay by chains on their necks.
    • Kullen is alive and evil. Merik is Living on Borrowed Time because of his bond to him.
    • Owl is bonded to a mountain bat.
    • Kullen and Stix are Paladins, and Kullen specifically used to be Bastien.
    • Ragnor the Raider King is the Rook King's general.
  • Retired Badass: Habim used to be a highly successful general for the Marstoki, but retired and became a teacher after the Truce was signed. He comes back to service when the war returns, although at this point he serves a rather different cause.
  • Revenant Zombie: The Cleaved are basically Technically Living Zombies with their only purpose (when not controlled by others, that is) being to kill every non-Cleaved around them.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Merik slips into this, aiming to take his sister down for orchestrating an assassination attempt on him and not stopping even for a moment to consider that it might not have been her.
  • Reread Bonus: Rereading the confrontation between Merik and Kullen at the climax of Windwitch after reading Sightwitch suggests that Kullen is remembering his past lives as one of the Twelve Paladins.
  • The Rival: Iseult's mother's other student. She's a perfect Threadwitch in a way Iseult can't compare to, and Iseult is acutely aware of that, which annoys her, especially as her own attempts to match this usually fail.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Safi's emotional journey in the first two books is to become one.
    • Merik and Vivia both serve in the Nubrevnan navy, and they don't shy away from fighting when situation calls for it.
  • The Runaway: Iseult left her home Nomatsi settlement when she was a young girl to get away from Corlant and because she knew she could never meet her mother's demands.
  • Sanity Slippage: Merik undergoes this in Windwitch when he's maddened with grief, overcome with desire to kill his sister for her actions, and living in perpetual pain. Most notably, he goes from looking for evidence to apprehend his sister to doing the same to have a license to kill her. He manages to climb back up, though.
  • Scars Are Forever: Averted; Merik notes at the end of Windwitch that his scars are starting to heal.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Aeduan, thanks to his ability to smell blood (or something magical he interprets as blood) across huge distances, can track people even across the sea.
  • Schizo Tech: It comes from the setting's Magitek. The ships have cannons, but handheld firearms are still something of a novelty toy; there's a non-fuel requiring system of lights, but no electricity; it's possible to communicate over large distances even though the setting is somewhere between late Medieval and Renaissance.
  • Sea Monster: The sea foxes, long thought to be purely mythical. They're basically giant, long, carnivorous serpents with the heads of foxes.
  • Seers: Sightwitches like Eridysi can see the future to some extent. Ironically enough, Eridysi herself was the only Sightwitch besides Ryber Fortiza who didn't have that power, the prophecies in the Lament actually came from her stepdaughter.
  • Sexual Extortion: It's heavily implied that Corlant has made Iseult's mother sleep with him by threatening to take away her Threadwitchery.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Eron fon Hastrell is very clearly still recovering from his time as a Hell-Bard, and drowns most of his sorrows and flashbacks in drink. Or so he wants everyone to believe.
  • Shout-Out: Ryber's story in Sightwitch is rather reminiscent of that of Lirael.
  • Sibling Rivalry: There's a deep rivalry between Merik and Vivia Nihar over their methods and who's going to inherit the throne. At one point, Merik speculates that it might've been engineered by his father.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: After Aeduan lies to her that the Water Well was only half-healed, Iseult scolds herself for daring to think that she might be something more than a barely-capable Threadwitch. Of course, again — Aeduan is lying.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Underplayed, but Merik and Safi's first moment of strong attraction comes right after they have a shouting match.
  • Slave Mooks: The Cleaved are all but mindless, and bonded to Esme.
  • Smug Snake: Corlant thinks he's brilliant and capable of playing every side while annoying his boss' top operative. Suffice to say, from the moment Iseult and Aeduan enter the scene, he begins to look less and less impressive with every moment he's trying to assert his dominance.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When Aeduan was still working as a Carawen monk, he gained some fame for being able to track anything. One day, he was asked to find a missing dog named Boots — which he accepted because it was the name of his childhood pet. As it turned out, this was his father checking if that famous Bloodwitch was actually his missing son, as someone without a connection wouldn't take on something this minor.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Played for Drama at the start of Bloodwitch, as Vivia's father steals the speech she intended to give at the opening of the undercity, receiving thunderous applause for it even though he didn't take any part in making it. Understandably, Vivia is angry.
  • Spotting the Thread: Cam realizes that Vivia might not have been behind the attack on Merik when he learns that the Empress of Marstok was attacked in the same way.
  • The Spymaster: Mathew's chain of cafés is a front for a network of spies he's in charge of.
  • Stern Teacher: Mathew. He's a good teacher, but he's very demanding and doesn't take well to Safi's frivolity.
  • Superpower Lottery: Among the witches, some are more powerful than others, and some are very overpowered.
    • Kullen is a full Airwitch capable of calling up a hurricane. Sightwitch reveals this is because he's one of the Twelve Paladins.
    • Vaness is an Ironwitch capable of bringing down entire mountains.
    • Esme can Cleave people across hundreds of miles.
    • Stix is a full Waterwitch capable of controlling it in all forms of matter. As with Kullen, this is because she too is a Paladin.
  • Super Reflexes: Aeduan's powers give him reflexes several times faster than that of a normal human.
  • Super Toughness: Aeduan again; while he is a Human Pincushion from time to time, he can bear this and far more.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Merik pegged Cam as this when he realized that Cam's a girl masquerading as a boy. He's actually a transgender boy, though.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.:
    • We're first introduced to Aeduan as a terrifying monster from hell. His POV changes that view immensely.
    • In Truthwitch, Merik has a lot to say about his sister, none of it good, and her actions make her look like an Evil Princess. She gets POV sections in Windwitch, and we find out she considers Merik to be a borderline Evil Prince.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Leopold is very sympathetic to Aeduan's motivations and methods, and even tries to help him. Aeduan declines, though.
  • Synchronization: Being Threadsiblings can apparently lead to that, at least in extreme circumstances, like with Merik and Kullen — if one of them dies, so does the other. That's why Esme kidnaps Merik, as she doesn't want to lose one of her "toys" to something out of her control.
  • Talking in Your Dreams:
    • Starting in Windwitch, Esme often hijacks Iseult's dreams to chat with her, trying to "befriend" her.
    • Near the end of the same book, Iseult figures out how to harness her Thread with Safi to communicate with her like this. Though Iseult can be awake for it, Safi has to be asleep. Unfortunately, thanks to Esme's ever-present threat, this can't be used nearly often enough.
  • Take a Third Option: At the end of Windwitch, Safi is given a choice of either going with the Hell-Bards to Cartorra or going with Vaness to Marstok and hanging them out to dry. She ultimately decides to go to Marstok with the Hell-Bards as her bodyguards and then head to Cartorra after her job is done.
  • Taking the Veil: Evrane is the Nubrevnan king's sister, who decided that she couldn't stand his policies and the Deadly Decadent Court and so joined a Carawen monastery.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: Most witches have tattoos showing what powers they possess, as it's required by law.
  • Tears of Joy: Every Nubrevnan in Merik's group cries those when they see Noden's Gift, a village set in a swath of southern Nubrevna which is completely free of the Polluted Wasteland of the rest of the country. Evrane even kisses the ground.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Cleaved are technically still alive, but otherwise act like Revenant Zombies.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Iseult and Aeduan at the beginning of their journey to find Safi, with both presuming Inevitable Mutual Betrayal and not talking to each other when they don't have to.
  • Telepathy: Esme can read Iseult's mind, even against the latter's wishes.
  • Terror Hero: Merik in Windwitch, as he embraces the moniker given to him, the Fury. A sighting of him is enough to raise the alarm and call in the army.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Aeduan in his backstory — he was considered a demon for a long time, and his treatment in the Carawen monastery, supposedly a place that accepts everyone, made him decide that he might just as well embrace the reputation.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: The three Hell-Bards that are after Safi and Vaness, with Caden as The Leader, Zander as The Lancer and Lev being The Chick.
  • Throwing the Fight: The pirate queen Safi fights throws the match in exchange for a future favour from Safi.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Monk Evrane. While other characters are mildly religious, but not really considering faith a major part of their lives, Evrane is a fanatic convinced that she has a holy duty.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Aeduan's time with Iseult in Windwitch makes him far nicer than he used to be, thanks in large parts to the two of them bonding during the journey.
  • Too Much Information: When Kullen tells Merik that his wild bursts of Windwitchery are connected to his attraction to Safi, he starts talking about the times he and Ryber were having sex, and Merik is quick to change the topic.
  • Too Soon: In-universe; after they take down a Cleaved witch, Safi gets angry at Merik and opens her tirade with "Are you Cleaved?" In her head, Iseult notes the poor choice of words.
  • Tranquil Fury: When the Nubrevnan vizers start to talk over and ignore Vivia, she turns the pitcher of water into a set of tendrils of it and calmly threatens to drown them all.
  • Transgender: Cam is biologically a girl, but gets very agitated when referred to as such and prefers to be called a boy.
  • Trust Password: In Bloodwitch, when Cam returns to Lovats through the undercity portal to warn Vivia and Vizer Sohar about the threat of potential invasion through said portal, he tells the vizer that he really has come from his missing daughter by mentioning the tavern Stix likes to take her father to on his birthday.
  • Twice Shy: Vivia and Stix are infatuated with each other, but because Vivia has to act queenly in front of everyone, Stix assumes she doesn't want to pursue a relationship and starts acting professional as well. This, in turn, makes Vivia think Stix isn't interested either, leading to a situation where both of them want to be together, but neither dares make the first move.
  • Underground City: The Lovats undercity, a mythical city built beneath the "modern" Lovats in the times long past. Currently, it's little more than a legend, although eventually it turns out it's real, and gangs are using it as their hideout. Vivia starts moving refugees there to house them. Sightwitch reveals that it was constructed to house refugees during an ancient war between the Twelve Paladins, a group of extremely powerful witches.
  • Understatement: After we see Aeduan completely lose his mind when faced with a large fire, he notes in narration that it... unsettled him.
  • Unreliable Narrator: As it turns out in Windwitch, Merik was one in Truthwitch, overselling Vivia's villainous qualities.
  • Unsexy Sadist: Corlant lusts after Iseult's mother and has previously made advances to her, but he's also a creepy stalker who's not above turning to Sexual Extortion to get what he wants.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In-universe, Safi (and, out-of-universe, the reader) isn't told Eron and Mathew's plan so that she wouldn't spoil it.
  • UST: There are small levels of this building between Aeduan and Iseult, though it's still in the early stages.
  • Verbal Tic: Iseult stutters when she's nervous. It's mentioned that she stuttered a lot more as a kid, so her slipping back into an old habit is a sign that she's losing self-control.
  • Voluntary Vassal: The countries of Svoden and Portolla have allied with Cartorra to maintain at least nominal independence.
  • Walking Wasteland: A Poisonwitch is a Waterwitch who can poison water around them, rendering rivers and fields toxic and killing people, plants and animals.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: Several hang in the Carawen outposts as higher-ranking jobs for the monks to take. The best-paid of them is for the Raider King's head.
  • Warrior Monk: The Carawen monks are worshippers of the Cahr Awen whose mercenary branch is renowned for their extremely high-quality warriors. Evrane and Aeduan both come from the monastery, and even though Evrane is a healer, she can still kick ass.
  • We Can Rule Together: After his return from being Cleaved, Kullen proposes to Merik that they kill Vivia and rule Nubrevna with Merik on the throne. He disagrees.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • Iseult is always trying to please her mother, and the fact that she can't leaves her with a bad case of Heroic Self-Deprecation.
    • Vivia always feels like she can't please her father enough, and sometimes goes against her better judgement because she thinks he'll approve of it.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Merik is more low-brow compared to Safi, and when they're not outright fighting or kissing, their relationship can be summed up by this.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Vivia turns to piracy, risking breaking the Truce too early, because the people of Nubrevna have to eat, no matter where the food comes from.
    • In Bloodwitch, it's revealed that Eron's conspiracy intends to keep the peace in the Witchlands by assassinating everyone who might try to start a war again, namely the leaders of the various empires, regardless of those rulers' potential morality. Safi is not happy when she finds out.
  • Whatevermancy: As you may've already noticed, every magic user in the Witchlands is called Somethingwitch, and every type of magic is somethingwitchery, with Witch and witchery being the catch-all terms.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Two such moments at the climax of Windwitch.
    • For Merik, it's an entire avalanche of those. After Cam leaves him, he's left all alone, free to pursue Vivia's death as he wanted. Instead, he finally admits that he's been rejecting the reality and goes to investigate. Then he has a choice of either learning valuable information or revealing himself and saving Cam. Finally, when he and Kullen hang high in the air, Kullen offers him the throne in exchenge for Vivia's death, and Merik declines.
    • Iseult has one. When she's left all alone on the battlefield, she realizes that she could either keep on chasing Safi (something she's been doing for the entire book) or come back and help Aeduan and Owl, with the added bonus of Aeduan expecting her to leave him and Safi never having to learn about it. She ultimately choses to return.
  • While Rome Burns: At the Truce Summit dinner, Merik sneers in his head that while there's some new superpower rising in the ruins of Arithuania, threatening them all, the politicians at the party prefer small talk and merry dancing.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Aeduan is absolutely terrified of fire, so it follows that the one witch with the pirates pursuing him is a sadistic Firewitch.
  • Wild Child: Owl is an underplayed case, as she's only been separated from her tribe for about a year at most. However, she barely speaks, walks everywhere barefoot, prefers the company of her pet mountain bat to people, and thinks nothing of eating raw earthworms.
  • The Witch Hunter: The Hell-Bards of Cartorra are an elite unit tasked with hunting down unregistered witches.
  • Witch Species: In the Witchlands, the only way to gain magic is to be born with it. The one exception to that are Sightwitches, who gain their powers by communing with Sirmaya. In the Fareast, however, Magic Is Mental.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: The navy and ships of the story are very evocative of this era.
  • World of Badass: Save for a few innocent civilians, most everyone in the story is a badass in one way or another.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Everyone who sees her agrees that Vaness is the most beautiful woman in the world. Even Vivia, who at this point is utterly in love with someone else, thinks the Empress is absurdly pretty.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: A Cursewitched wound will not and will continue to poison you even more, which is why Iseult is in bad straits for a large chunk of Truthwitch and why Aeduan temporarily loses his Healing Factor in Bloodwitch.
  • Wretched Hive: The Red Sails' part of Saldonica is a maze of run-down alleys, filled with pirates, criminals and runaways all too happy to catch you and sell you into slavery.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Aeduan hears this from both Evrane and Leopold on different occasions. Unfortunately, he doesn't believe them.
  • Younger Than They Look: Aeduan. Iseult initially assumes that he's far older than her because of his manner of holding himself and the way he speaks, but when she happens upon him unconscious, she notes with surprise that he's very close to her own age.


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