Hunting the White Witch

August 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

witchHunting the White Witch by Tanith Lee

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Hunting the White Witch starts off immediately after the events of Shadowfire, which makes me wonder if the two books were initially intended to be just one story. Together, they make up an epic tale of a warrior on a quest for identity and revenge, going from place to place and having adventures at each location on the quest. Also, the first book was told from the perspective of one character, while the last two books were told from a different character’s perspective; the last two books feel like a deviation of sorts from how Lee began this saga.

On the other hand, the first two books in the series have a feminist feel to them, while the third book, at first blush, does not. By now, Vazkor, son of Vazkor (the original title of the second book makes sense to me now), has accepted his god-like powers and becomes as a god himself. The opening chapters feature him healing, calling down storms, and walking on water, so the parallels to Jesus are pretty obvious. Vazkor tries to do good, but still finds himself in the position of killing people out of revenge. He still seems to be acting toward good intentions, and he feels remorse for the killings, but he’s not above manipulating people to get what he needs, and what he needs is to find his mother, whom he plans to kill. It’s a complicated relationship, one which becomes even more complicated by the end of the story.

This novel features strong women characters, but like in Shadowfire, they seem to exist just outside of the story, with their influence affecting Vazkor. This time, he forms a relationship with a woman who is the mother of an emperor-to-be whom he is advising. She’s older, more experienced, and a stronger character than Vazkor, his advisee, or anyone else in the story. Their relationship becomes a complication, but that relationship, as the ones Vazkor had in Shadowfire, affects him enough to grow into a better person.

The last two books in this trilogy are about Vazkor’s development from a barbarian to someone more introspective, and Lee takes time in showing us the trials of his journey and how they affect him. From arrogant warrior to courageous leader to confident god, Vazkor’s life plays out before us. Even though the shift in perspective indicates a change in theme, Lee still makes the entire series about strong women.

The series isn’t the easiest of reads (it demands time and patience from the reader), but it feels worthwhile. This wasn’t my favorite book in the series, but the first two books are worthwhile, and it’s necessary to finish the third book to get the full story of Vazkor and his mother. That Lee’s style is rich and flowing makes the books even more worth reading. Anyone looking to discover Tanith Lee as an author would do well to start with this trilogy.

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