May 10, 2021

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.

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