Like many other publications from Talem Press, the Ninth Sorceress is a hidden gem in the realm of Fantasy. Since I’ve started trying to write my own novels and short stories, I’ve developed an entirely new appreciation for the elements of a story. World building is hard. Crafting characters is hard. Writing a compelling plot is hard. And the writers of Talem Press always seem to do these things impressively with Wynne being no exception.
The Prologue of The Ninth Sorceress had me hooked the second I learned that the prisoner was female. The last time I had read a female prisoner was Throne of Glass, so this captured my attention for some reason. When we meet the wizard, it’s clear that her gender has done nothing to protect her from torture and inquisition – something that other fantasy novels will often gloss over as they write about war.
Intro aside, Gwynn was an incredible character whose past and present were gripping throughout the novel. This may be a fantasy novel, but the plot incorporates almost thriller-esque elements as we try to unravel who she is and how she ended up in a maximum security prison. Why is she held captive? What is she guarding that’s worth the torture she endures? I love the suspense and tension that builds as we move from the prison scene, to moments of Diane’s youth, and then the general unveiling of plot points. Honestly, I found the plot-oriented focus and lack of unnecessarily complicated relationships refreshing.
I think Wynne also subverts one of my least favourite tropes of all time – the chosen one. Despite Gwynn’s powers and the fear she incites in everyone, no one is relying on her to be the saviour of anything. She’s powerful. But instead of being exalted, this power has won her a stay in prison.
I don’t want to give anything away, but this is definitely a book worth reading.