Wyatt Croft fled his home years ago after a terrible tragedy left him scarred inside and out. He has no intention of ever returning and then a face from the past reappears. Emyr was the boy Wyatt left behind, a prince who he was bound to marry. Now Emyr has left Asalin to reclaim his betrothed, regardless of the fact that Wyatt has no wish to be wed and will likely be killed the moment he returns to Asalin.
Wyatt is a witch and witches are less than second class citizens in Asalin and Wyatt didn’t exactly leave under good auspices. Returning to a home that hates him, Wyatt struggles to adapt. He cares for Emyr and perhaps even loves him, but being the hated consort of a future king isn’t something he can abide, not while the witches of Asalin are abused and belittled on a daily basis. The last time Wyatt fought to defend himself people died. Now he wants a revolution, but he’ll have to figure out a way to do it without leaving the people he loves or Asalin itself burned to ash.
The Witch King offered me something of a conundrum and nearly all of that consternation involves the main character. On the one hand, I loved Wyatt and his strength. He survived the unthinkable and managed to come through it on the other side with his sense of self and his personal truths intact. I admired that he fought for and demanded acceptance of his identity and there was so much honesty in that fight. But on the other hand, Wyatt’s anger becomes something of a one note flaw that failed to let him grow as a character or to believe anything but the worst of most of those around him. Now that anger is justified, but it’s also smothering and at times the author failed to find purpose for it. Instead, it just became scene after scene of Wyatt being angry and nothing resolving because of it. He tends to assume and demand of other characters, rather than actually conversing with them and it just doesn’t work about half the time when it comes to the actual plot. Which is a shame, because had that anger been more focused, it could have driven the story forward rather than tripping it up.
Pacing was a problem here. Much of the story lags and issues get retrod over and over rather than being fully developed or given an opportunity to grow. There were scenes that needed to be condensed or removed and doing so would have tightened the plot significantly. There are some strong secondary characters in The Witch King and they certainly helped to flesh out the wider story and offered a rounded out cast. This is especially true of Wyatt’s friend, Briar, and his fiancé, Emyr. Both are developed characters and they provide a nice balance against Wyatt.
The Witch King certainly had a great deal of merit and will likely appeal to many readers. But with Wyatt’s rage becoming something of a one note plot device and persistent pacing issues, instead of enjoying this one, I spent a lot of the time frustrated. That said, if you’re looking for strong transgender fantasy characters you might find something to like here.