The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last Black Witch, a powerful witch that lead her people in the realm war and saved the Gardnerian people. While Elloren comes from a powerful bloodline, she has no wand magic herself, and finds herself at school to study to become an apothecary.
Elloren is quite young, and was raised in a remote village. She makes for an incredibly naive character, but it turns out to be interesting eyes through which we learn about the Gardneria. For the first part of the book Elloren is hearing from her Aunt (a politician) and Lucas Grey (a Gardnerian military leader’s sexy son). She’s effectively learning from the “haves” of Gardneria, and too naive too understand that.
After a few months at school she starts to put some of the pieces together. She meets people of other races that are feared or hated by her people and has to decide for herself who to believe. She starts to realize that the histories she’s learned are told by the victors. She also learns that each race has a origin story and religion that makes them seem like the center of the universe.
What I like about Elloren is that when she has questions about the truth she seeks answers. When she seeks the truth she approaches it from all perspectives and then makes a decision for herself. Her naivete works again works well here.
I was a little underwhelmed by the magic in the story but for most of the book we find ourselves in classrooms with students who are restricted in magic practice. Additionally since Elloren seems to have no magic, she is not really in classes that practice explicit magic, she is in classes more akin to potions.
There is some legend here regarding a mystical white wand that happens to fall into our heroes lap, but even with events unfolding at the end of the book, I’m still not convinced we really saw the power of a wand.
Great start to the series, I’m looking forward to reading more, and seeing how our band of characters evolve together.