Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call

Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods, #1)
Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call
Publication Date: February 21st, 2020
Hardcover. 448 pages

About Master of Sorrows:

"You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world. 

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same? 

What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it? 

Among the Academy's warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents' killers. 

Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy's masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil. 

Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . ."

Master of Sorrows is an ambitious and inventive story about a boy who must learn to handle a dark secret that could have dire consequences from those around him if they ever found out. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book going into it, but I ended up enjoying far more than I expected, which is always a pleasant surprise.

Master of Sorrows is a book that employs a variety of classic fantasy tropes, such as the prophesied one, the reluctant hero, a training academy/school setting, etc., and turns them into something new and exciting. I always say that tropes are classic and used repeatedly by various authors for a reason--readers like them! And most readers love it when authors take those tropes and add new twists to them and bring an inventive take, which is exactly what Call does in this book.

Our protagonist, Annev, lives in a place where magic is feared and banned, and anyone found using magic or tainted with magic can thus find themselves banished or killed. Annev has to continuously hide his true self because he would be considered 'Keos-touched,' or essentially tainted by the magic of an evil god, due to being born missing part of his arm. He wears a prosthetic that was skillfully crafted by his mentor, Sodar, who helps him hide this from those in his town. As with any character that has to hide something big about themselves, this added a constant level of tension to the story because you never knew if or when his secret might be revealed, as well as the consequence of that happening--added on to him hiding it for so long.

I'm a sucker for the mentor-apprentice trope in fantasy, so Annev and Sodar's relationships was one of my favorites to watch, despite my occasional frustrations with Annev's attitude and decisions surrounding him and Sodar. I actually really like that Call crafted Annev to be rather stubborn and to push back against certain things Sodar tells him (which I can't tell you because spoilers!), as it made him seem like an authentic young adult who is growing up and wants nothing more than to live a fairly normal life by continuing his education and future career and courting the girl he likes. He's a bit of a reluctant hero type and is also ridiculously loyal to his friends--sometimes so loyal that I almost felt frustrated by the choices he made, even though they were the right things to do, even if a bit stupid. Even though things might not always turn out positively for Annev, he's one of those characters that I trust to do the right thing--or to at least realize what the right thing is after he's done the wrong.

This book employs some darker themes and elements that permeate the entire story. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from the sort of 'religion' that is followed where Annev lives which adds some important and interesting background information and that also contributes to the darker, more serious undertones of the book. There are a lot of dark forces at play that want to use Annev for various reasons, and I liked seeing how Call incorporated all of these ideas and elements to the overall plot.

The worldbuilding and magic system in this book are top notch, and although I found it wasn't overly expansive and detailed, I can tell that Call has big plans for this series and that there will be so much more in future books, which makes me that much more excited to continue this series.

Overall, it's 4.25 stars from me! If you like books that take classic tropes and use them in new ways with plenty of twists, then this is absolutely a book that you should pick up.

*I received a copy of Master of Sorrows courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

No comments:

Post a Comment