If you grew up watching Bewitched and dreamt of meeting a beautiful witch then after reading The War of the First Day, all your fantasies would come crashing down. In this book by Thomas Fleet, lies bare not only the beauty but also the ugliness of witches. Lilta, the protagonist, is the apprentice of a very powerful and dangerous witch, Apandra. Whatever Apandra commands, Lilta follows out of respect and fear. Her orders are not subtle like bring me a glass of water or wipe the floors so clean that she can see her reflection in it; these are life-threatening ones like kill the king of the land that lies south to the witchlands, Taxis. King Brath made a rash decision of ordering his soldiers to destroy the witchland and he paid for his mistake by losing his life by the hands of Lilta. She does not like taking lives but she cannot deny her mistress of anything she asks of her. Her mission was not just to kill the king, but also to kidnap the prince who was a newborn baby. Lilta succeeds in both the tasks. Apandra ordered this kidnapping since this would prevent the soldiers (and people) of Taxis from planning another attack on witches.
However, this might have been a shortsighted strategy of the witches. The reason is that the Taxians seemed to have been under a spell of some sorts that forced them to attack the witches. If it were true, another witch (or group of witches) might have been conspiring against Apandra and probably, other witches. This hypothesis turned into a valid threat when an explosion killed many of the witches who had gathered to discuss the current events of Taxians. Now, the surviving witches are under a constant threat from an unknown witch who might be conspiring to kill them all.
The author has definitely put a spell on the pages of this book since I was drawn to it by an unknown force. I could not stop thinking about the war of the witches, the riddles that were present, the suspense, and the commotion. How Lilta became an apprentice to Apandra is the most horrifying and yet addictive part of the story. That story connected me to Lilta on an emotional level. I could understand her rage towards her mistress. One thing that confused me was how I could even understand Lilta’s loyalty to Apandra. Generally, things are black and white for me, but somehow author showed me that there is a grey area as well.
Another thing that I loved about the book is the authentic manner in which the author has written it. It’s one thing to just tell a story, it’s another thing to plant the seeds of conviction here and there to convince the readers that there is really a place like this and there is definitely magic in that place. The anecdotes that witches share throughout the read are one of those elements. I was fascinated by the mention of encrypted languages and theorems among other things. There are many mental treats waiting for you in form of riddles and the author has made sure to provide an answer to all of them by one character or another.
Although there are many characters in the book, my favorite one is Lilta. She is not afraid of speaking her mind even in front of a danger. She gets in trouble because of her inability to refrain from voicing her opinion multiple times, but that doesn’t stop her from being herself. She has a strong head on her shoulders and she knows what she wants. She has a problem stopping her laughter at inappropriate moments, same as me, and that’s what I connected with. The author has given every one of his characters a diverse personality and power. No one witch is similar to another. Hence, there are many characters to choose your favorite from. See which one speaks to you.
The plot moves slowly from one chapter to another but this pace would not bore you. Nothing is being dragged on for long, except for the war of course because that’s the central plot of the story. The conversations are intelligently written. It was evident that the author has put a lot of thought into each and every dialogue. There are very rare occurrences of grammatical errors.
Needless to say, I loved the book from the bottom of my heart. It’s definitely an edge-of-the-seat kind of story. If you are a fan of being truly immersed in another world, then the witchland awaits you in The War of The First Day.
Oops! I almost forgot to mention that this book contains very explicit scenes of torture and violence, which are suitable for adult eyes only.