Ryder is a Witchlander. He lives on the mountain above the village with his mother and two younger sisters. Ever since his father died, he has been the man of the family, trying to farm enough to keep his family safe and fed, and keep his mother from taking the drug that makes her see visions. His mother used to be a Witch, but left the Coven at the top of the mountain and until recently has preached to her children and anyone who would listen that the Witches’ so-called “magic” is all fake. Generally, the witches are feared and revered, ever since the war with the Baen across the border. But few are like Ryder, brave enough to not believe in their power.
Falpian and his loyal dread hound are living in an isolated hut on the mountain close to the border between Baen and Witchland. Falpian is in mourning for 100 days since the death of his twin brother. Falpian has come to the mountain not just to mourn, but also to escape the judgmental and scornful looks from his father. After all, if Falpian and his brother had the ability to sing–the Baen magic–they were supposed to have, Falpian’s brother would not have died. Falpian just wants to prove to his father that he is not useless. Brought together by Fate, Ryder and Falpian will soon discover that working together may be the only way to prevent another war between their people.
Witchlanders was an impulse read for me, it was on display in my library so I picked it up. I thought the world building was the best part of the book: the differences between the way the two lands, which were neighbors, viewed and practiced magic, and the huge differences in their cultures and religions were very well done. It was hinted that the Witchlanders and the Baen used to get along well, but since the war (which we don’t get to know much about) they have been bitter enemies. There was enough information to understand that there was conflict between the races, but not really enough to understand why. I actually liked this, and thought it was the perfect amount of information to give the reader. I wasn’t super impressed with the characters. I was emotionally invested in both Ryder and Falpian’s plights, but I didn’t particularly empathize with them. Perhaps they were both just on too extreme opposite sides to really root for either one or both of them. I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but I just couldn’t get very excited about either of them. Maybe it was because they were boys–I did like Skyla, Ryder’s younger sister. Overall, the book was good, especially because I liked the world building. Recommended for fans of unique styles of magic, high fantasy, and male leading characters.