Blog Tour | Master Artificer

Master Artificer (The Silent Gods #2)
Justin Call
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UK Publisher | Gollancz
UK Release Date | May 6th, 2021
Format | Hardback
Page Count | 866
RRP | £25

Thank you to Gollancz for this finished copy, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions that you'll read here are my own. 

Annev has avoided one fate. But a darker path may still claim him.
After surviving the destruction of Chaenbalu, new mysteries and greater threats await Annev and his friends in the capital city of Luqura. As they navigate the city's perilous streets, Annev searches for a way to control his nascent magic and remove the cursed artifact now fused to his body.
But what might removing it cost him?
As Annev grapples with his new magic, Fyn joins forces with old enemies and new allies, waging a secret war against Luqura's corrupt guilds in the hopes of forging his own criminal empire. Deep in the Brakewood, Myjun is learning new skills of her own as apprentice to Oyru, the shadow assassin who attacked the village of Chaenbalu - but the power of revenge comes at a daunting price. And back in Chaenbalu itself, left for dead in the Academy's ruins, Kenton seeks salvation in the only place he can: the power hoarded in the Vault of Damnation...

Earlier today, I posted up my review of book one in the The Silent Gods series, Master of Sorrows, which you can check out here

After speeding through the last 100 pages of Master of Sorrows, I am so grateful for past me for waiting for the sequel before starting this series. Master Artificer begins a matter of hours after the conclusion of book one and throws you straight back into the story. I'm going to have to be careful to not give anything away here so this might have to be brief. 

In book one, Call perfectly planted the seeds for the controlled chaos of book two. Driving the story from being a dark fantasy that had revitalised stale tropes and characters types, into an epic narrative that weaves a web across a continent. Be warned though, this book definitely still feels just as dark as its precedent, if not more so. 

I was really hoping that with the sequel this would go from a close-third narrative a teenage boy to utilising the use of multiple POVs to bring a wider depth of characters, setting and magic. And it did exactly that, with a phenomenal execution of style and pacing that left me tantalized to turn the page, start the next chapter and follow the network of characters in all their moral intricacies.  

In my review for Master of Sorrows, I mentioned Myjun and the way we left at what felt like only the start of her story, which we get to see in this novel as she and Kenton shift into the antagonists of Annev's story and his slow progression into this dark lord vision that is being hinted at. I really enjoyed reading from there POVs, and the way in which Call handle consequence.

Book Review | Master of Sorrows

Master of Sorrows (The Silent Gods #1)
Justin Call
UK Publisher | Gollancz
UK Release Date | Feb 21st, 2019
Format | Hardcover
Page Count | 577
RRP | £14.99

Thank you to Gollancz for this finished copy (despite it taking me two years to read it), in exchange for an honest review. All opinions that you'll read here are my own. 
The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries.
Hidden from the world, acting from the shadow, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artificts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.
Of the Academy's many students, only the most skilled can become Avatars - warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults - and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic.
More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to become one of them.
Master of Sorrows is a coming-of-age, dark fantasy debut that broaches into the epic. A debut that promises an expanding, unravelling plot that has you buckled in for the ride.

Annev de Breth is a seventeen-year-old acolyte at the Academy, with a promising future as an Avatar, someone who is tasked with the challenge of retrieving magical items and bringing them back into the safety of the hidden walls of the village and locked into the vaults. When I say I put this off for the longest time purely because not only is this a fantasy written by a man, but the protagonist is a teen boy in a fantasy novel, and apart from Fitz (Robin Hobb) I just don't typically vibe with that. However, Annev felt like a breath (sorry) of fresh air from my previous bad experiences. He still felt like someone on the cusp of adulthood that reflects the coming-of-age tag, yet, still lead to a complex character that proved his intelligent and worth time and time again. Often within the plot, thinking logically outside the box to lead to dubious consequences, but I could see his way of thinking whether it was the right way or not.

I think my biggest gripe for this, was that the opening felt rather slow. This is definitely one of those books where you're going to have to give it to the 200 page mark to decide whether this is the book for you. This was completely made up for the fresh and compelling storytelling that becomes of the second half of the novel, as the world began to unfurl, as Annev's map circumference expanded.

This is a weird one for me; as frustrated as I felt at the lack of women, or the very small amount of time we see of them felt very deliberate. Annev is in a very male dominated setting. The acolytes are separated to train away from the witwomen of the Academy, and outside of that Annev spends his time as a training deacon with his guardian and mentor, Sodar Weir. The most prominent women on page is Myjun, Annev's love interest that he does spend a large proportion moony-eyed over. After the ending though, I feel like this is not going to be the case and I look forward to hopefully seeing the complexities of Myjun and her journey in Master Artificer.

Blog Tour | All The Murmuring Bones

Photo taken of Kindle

All The Murmuring Bones
A.G. Slatter
UK Publisher | Titan Books
UK Release Date | April 8th, 2021
Format | Paperback
Page Count | 368
RRP | £8.99

Thank you to Titan Books for this Netgalley arc, in exchange for an honest review; and thank you for the opportunity of this blog tour. All opinions that you'll read here are my own. 
Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren's freedom.
A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and sea; of strong women and the men who seek control them.
Other families might have stories of curses, cold lads and white ladies, but we have old gods, merfolk and monsters.

All The Murmuring Bones is a Gothic folk-tale, that pays a tithe to the dark atmospheric lore of the sea. An all-consuming tale of a young woman, Miren, who must pave her way beyond the tradition of old, and make for her own freedom from the men who wish to control her and the desperation to restore the power that once gave the O'Malley's their power over the town of Breakwater. 

There's an old woman, though, with plans and plots of long gestation; and there's the sea, which will have her due, come hell or high water; and there are secrets and lies which never stay buried forever.

Breakwater, as well as the other towns we encounter in All The Murmuring Bones, is very much a Fantasy 19th Century Irish backdrop where magic, while still thriving, is something old and forgotten with the remnants of Kelpies, Mer, and Ghosts still wander as a remaining reminder of the land's history. Serving as the perfect setting for a story of a family that once owed their power to the child sacrifices that they made as payment to the Mer. 

One for the house, one for the Church and one for the Sea.

Throughout, I came to deeply adore the characters, in particular the female characters, who all seemingly fit around each other like some form of knot that comes from complex and matriarchal family dynamics. They were all fierce, a force and all have a found strength that I deeply admired, despite the obstacles that they posed to Miren. 

All The Murmuring Bones is not one I would recommend if you don't like lyrical, ornate prose. As well as overall this felt a lot more literary and character-driven, which slowed the pacing; this is something I really love, but I know that this isn't going to appeal to everyone. 

As a child, I had a fascination with mermaids, and have been searching for years for a book that as an adult reader, could connect with and fall in love with. All The Murmuring Bones achieved that for me, encapsulating the Gothic genre and utilizing it to heighten the fantastical elements and enamor me with rich, inviting prose. Despite this being labeled as a Mer book, they were more an omniscient threat to the protagonist, in addition to the fantastical elements of Slatter's worldbuilding and I really vibed with that. 

This is definitely for fans of Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden; for fans of alluring prose, fierce women, and dark folklore. A.G. Slatter is an author to watch, and I cannot wait to see what she will bring with her next release, Morwood, which is set for release sometime in 2022.

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