Matt Forney
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The Last Witchking by Vox Day

The-Last-WitchkingThis is the most recent installment in Vox’s fantasy novel series set in the world of Selenoth, the longest of the three novellas and the most uneven in terms of quality. This is partly because The Last Witchking is split up into three separate stories: “The Last Witchking,” “The Hoblets of Wiccam Fensboro,” and “Opera Vita Aeterna.” I’d peg the book overall between The Wardog’s Coin and A Magic Broken in terms of quality, if only due to the strength of its title story.

“The Last Witchking” revolves around Speer Gnasor, the clandestine heir to an extinct order of powerful mages, the titular witchkings. The story is gripping due to Vox’s able characterization of Speer and his associates, people whom any outside observer would regard as evil. The thing is, though, is that truly evil people rarely if ever think of themselves as evil, a nuance most writers can’t understand. The biggest problem with the story is its opening, depicting the untimely end of Speer’s parents:

“Do it,” she murmured, her face pressed against his chest. “Do it now, my love.”

“How can you ask it of me?” His voice was filled with anguish. “Why did you not let me send you away with them?”

“He will be safer without me. They would know. They would break me.”

“They cannot break what they do not find.”

“They know I am yours. They would hunt me down. And besides, I will not live without you!”

Jesus Christ. I couldn’t help but imagine the whole scene enacted by the characters from Lords & Ladies“My Lord, I am your long-lost sister!”

The remaining two stories are okay if unremarkable. “Wiccam Fensboro” details the efforts of a goblin city’s leaders to keep an occupying force of orcs from discovering and exterminating the local hoblet population, a peaceful people who’ve lived in harmony with the goblins for eons. The story is meant as an allegory for the German occupation of Italy during World War II and how Italians went to great lengths to protect their Jews from Nazi predation. Vox explains this in a note following the story, and also says that “Wiccam Fensboro” is out of canon compared to the rest of the Selenoth novels because he wrote it years before:

“Me knew you protecting dose damn kobs! Eighty stinkers! Where they be, Drun Fenwick? You hiding them, dirty koblover! Me knew it! You be the traitor, and you never be thinking to smoke out no kobbers with those stupid damn patrols!”

It’s an interesting experiment, though as Vox points out, the depiction of goblins runs counter to how they are shown in other works in the series.

The final story revolves around Bessarius, an elven magister who stays with a human monastery as part of his search for truth and meaning. The dialogue in this segment is very tightly written, befitting Vox’s keen understanding of philosophy, but the lack of action means that it drags somewhat.

Overall, like with A Magic Broken, I’d recommend you hold off on The Last Witchking if you aren’t already a fan of Vox’s or fantasy writing in general. The Wardog’s Coin is still the best introduction to the Throne of Boneseries.

Click here to buy The Last Witchking.

Read Next: A Magic Broken by Vox Day