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Master of Sorrows

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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 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 . . .


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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 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 . . .

30 review for Master of Sorrows

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    This is a very strong dark fantasy debut that will appeal directly to fans of The Poppy War and The Name of the Wind. It’s intense, mystical and brutal. The novel is Asian inspired, depicting a fighting academy that has an eastern quality to it. The masters who rule their and teach their ways despise the use of magic and hoard it in their secret vault to protect the world from its effects. They hunt and kill magic users and will gladly slay an infant at birth if they bare the taint of magic. Th This is a very strong dark fantasy debut that will appeal directly to fans of The Poppy War and The Name of the Wind. It’s intense, mystical and brutal. The novel is Asian inspired, depicting a fighting academy that has an eastern quality to it. The masters who rule their and teach their ways despise the use of magic and hoard it in their secret vault to protect the world from its effects. They hunt and kill magic users and will gladly slay an infant at birth if they bare the taint of magic. They are an order that appear benevolent but have many dark secrets they hide from the boys they claim to train for the benefit of humanity. Driving the plot is a strong undercurrent of destiny and dark magic. Our hero (Annev) is being hunted by dark forces. Dark gods want him; they want to use him for the power he can channel. He lives in secret at the academy training to become an avatar of the order. The masters have no idea that one of their enemies is in plain sight. And this made the novel quite tense in points, there were several close moments when Annev’s identity was almost revealed. Such a thing would mean his banishment from the place he calls home. The story took several unexpected directions, so I was certain this reveal could happen at any time. Fans of The Poppy War will, undoubtably, really appreciate this one. Both novels begin in a training academy, but slowly burst out into the real world as death approaches quickly. I really do recommend trying this if you like R.F Kuang’s writing. Justin Travis Calls’ novel is much darker from the outset, though he uses the school trope just as effectively. And I really liked how quickly the book moved forward, it didn’t mess around as the story constantly developed as more elements were added in. It also contains a very dark and dramatic prologue, which I couldn’t wait to find more about. And when the reveals came, I wasn’t disappointed. As a protagonist, Annev is the archetypal reluctant hero. He is unaware of his potential. His greatest strength is his ability to question and to think independently aside from the brainwashing that occurs at the academy (similar to Kvothe’s ingenuity.) This allows him to succeed time and time again where he would potentially fail because he has not yet fully come to trust his own physical abilities. It also makes the action quite interesting as the characters begin to work together as a unit rather than as independent warriors. And I think as friendships and trust grows across books, this could become much stronger. He is quite a compelling character, genuine and honest, so it becomes hard not to root for him. It will be intriguing to see what the dark magic he possesses does to his personality as it begins to manifest itself more strongly. For now though this is the beginnings of a new and exciting fantasy series that kept throwing surprises my way – a solid 8.5/10. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. FBR | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    I received an uncorrected proof copy of Master of Sorrows in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Justin Call and Gollancz. The narrative begins as we are introduced to the 17-year-old acolyte Annev. He is aiming to progress to the desired status of an Avatar of Judgement in this educational environment. The atmosphere he lives within, the classes he frequents and seminars he attends are to help him achieve this, whilst also being aided by the influence of his guardian Sodar and a varied I received an uncorrected proof copy of Master of Sorrows in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Justin Call and Gollancz. The narrative begins as we are introduced to the 17-year-old acolyte Annev. He is aiming to progress to the desired status of an Avatar of Judgement in this educational environment. The atmosphere he lives within, the classes he frequents and seminars he attends are to help him achieve this, whilst also being aided by the influence of his guardian Sodar and a varied group of teachers. The issue is that to achieve the status of an Avatar of Judgement, a trainee needs to pass a test simply known as a judgment (or testing day). Annev is yet to pass, although his skills, knowledge and intellect outweigh his peers'. Tomorrow is his last chance. Annev and his two best friends, Titus and Therin normally work together but this hasn't aided any of our trio so far. This is the last chance to become an Avatar. One position remains plus many individuals who already own that status do not wish for Annev or his pals to achieve that sort of recognition. Still... the one final position remains. If unsuccessful these characters will become stewards (little more than servants) to the masters and the avatars and their rights as members of the academy are reduced sevenfold. The fact that Annev will not be allowed to marry his sweetheart is just one example. In similar fashion to The Name of the Wind, The Magician's Guild and The Poppy War, we have a sort of hero of destiny, an educational establishment, bullies, colourful tutors, and character-defining hardship environmental experiences. Unlike the magic schools of the aforementioned, this is an anti-magic college. The students are trained as warriors (a' la Blood Song) taught swordsmanship, stealth, lockpicking, and other arts of infiltration. Individuals, as an avatar or a master of Chaenbalu, well, their main goal is to find magical artefacts. Taking them from evil individuals who would use them for nefarious purposes or to recoup them from others who are bewildered and unaware of the effects of said rods or magical adornments. The history of the Gods, in a series known as The Silent Gods, is interesting. It is predominantly presented in a prologue bible-esque fashion at the start of each 'part'. I am normally bored and honestly riled at the nonsense of these sections in fantasy but they worked exquisitely well here. We're introduced to three Gods who were a family. One of which was a hero in how he cared for his family but is criminalised to the world in a sense that is arguably not his fault. Who is the real villain? This ARC had the status "What if you were destined to be the villain" as Jen Lyons' debut similarly stated, "What if you weren't the hero." I dislike taglines like this in both books. So misleading and I guess trying to appeal to the grimdark era of fantasy. Anyway, one of the finest aspects of this novel is the amazing characters however, my statements about all are not glowing as you will see. Annev is a brilliant protagonist. Sodar is amazing and confusingly mysteriously mentor that a hero of generations really needs. I can happily say that there are about 15-20 brilliantly constructed creations here. Two issues, however. I did not care about anything to do with Annev's love and I believe that is only a tool to see what happens in the next book... and Fyn, although a stunning character, who I liked a lot, and one I can't wait to follow next, his progression did not seem organic. It seemed a bit too neat and tidy to help the narrative's progression. SPOILER UNTIL I SAY OTHERWISE... Annev reminded me about one of my favourite characters in fantasy over the last 3 years, Girton Club-Foot (Age of Assassins). Both are disabled. Both are probably by far the best at what they do but are looked down upon. Especially in this novel, anybody with a disability is known as a son a Keos - who in my mind, is a God who did everything right, but it criminalised. I guess we'll find out more about this in the next two novels. END... Master of Shadows - in our world where everyone is scared about where the next read is coming from and when, and hoping we don't have to wait a decade for the next book - works perfectly as a standalone. Yes, I do want to read the next entry and there are about three loose threads that I can't wait to grip onto in #2. This novel features tragic and sad deaths, utter betrayals, twisty-turny-twisty-turns, phenomenal weapons, and well depicted disabled individuals. The world is gigantic but in this entry, we are mainly focused on Chaenelau and the neighbouring forest. There are many books that this is similar to but in my mind, this is so much better than The Name of The Wind. This is phenomenal. Exquisite. It shows other novels how tropes should be worked to appear new and better than what has come before.

  3. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    ARC received from the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars. Master of Sorrows was a remarkable debut which I simply cannot put down. This book recalled so much about what I loved about classic epic fantasy and yet felt modern. The author has quoted David Eddings as his earliest favourite. Having read and loved Eddings' works myself, I can definitely see the influences from The Belgariad in this book; a prophecy, Gods and a coming-of-age tale of a young man destined for ARC received from the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars. Master of Sorrows was a remarkable debut which I simply cannot put down. This book recalled so much about what I loved about classic epic fantasy and yet felt modern. The author has quoted David Eddings as his earliest favourite. Having read and loved Eddings' works myself, I can definitely see the influences from The Belgariad in this book; a prophecy, Gods and a coming-of-age tale of a young man destined for greatness. Except, in this case, that greatness may lie in the path of darkness instead of light. As if those three elements above weren't enough to make me love Master of Sorrows, we also have the school trope in this story. You know the drill. A talented main protagonist trying to advance, but was constantly thwarted by his equally talented enemies, or bullies. School bullies will never go out of fashion – in books, television, movies or the real world. As a reader or spectator, it is always so satisfying when the victim overcomes the abuse, and it is especially gratifying to see the antagonists receiving their comeuppance. I believe that this satisfaction stems from its underlying message, which is one of hope, perseverance and karma. Overused standard tropes, one might say, though I maintained that tropes existed for a reason; once upon a time, readers enjoyed reading them. The distinction lies in how well-written the story is and how well these fantasy plot devices serve to tell the story. Admittedly, originality is also usually not the first thing that I look for in a book anyway. This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate originality, I absolutely do and it does count when it comes to my overall reading enjoyment. Ultimately though, I gravitate towards compelling and empathetic storytelling. A story that can capture and retain my attention, as my mind takes flight and wanders into the imaginary world with its characters. Master of Sorrows gave me that experience as I devoured the novel in just two days. Save for the Prologue and Epilogue, the story was told solely from the perspective of Annev, an orphan who was brought up by a priest and mentor, Sodar in the hidden village of Chaenbalu. Annev was an Acolyte of Faith in training to be an Avatar of Judgment of the Academy. These avatars are entrusted by the Academy to retrieve magical artifacts and bring them back for safekeeping. It is for this reason that the village is kept hidden by magic and its existence is practically unknown to most people outside. The hierarchy of the Academy goes up the ranks of Master Avatar, Ancients and the Eldest of Ancients. And all of them will kill Annev without hesitation should his deformity, the mark of the Fallen God, come to light. The coming-of-age characterisation of Annev was quite excellent in my opinion. His apprenticeship under his mentor, Sodar, had instilled within him moral values which are at odds with those of the Academy that will help him pass the Test of Judgment and become an avatar. As only one acolyte can pass each Test, he may need to betray his friends to do so. His determination to pass the Test was further inflamed by his love for Myjun, the daughter of the Eldest of Ancients. Ah yes, the stupidity that accompanies the flush of young love. I do sometimes feel like shaking Annev for being idiotic when it comes to Myjun. However, even though I typically don't like romance in my books and how silly characters can get when in thrall to romantic love, it is a wholly realistic part of growing up. With that perspective, I think the author did a great job in handling this tricky aspect of Annev's character development. As much as I disliked the Annev-Myjun love story, I absolutely loved the Sodar-Annev mentor-apprentice, surrogate father-son relationship. This relationship between Annev and his mentor formed the emotional backbone of his story as far as I'm concerned. Without which, I would not have been half as invested in these characters as I was shortly into the book. Annev's character arc around friendships, loyalty and kindness also played a significant role in his character development, and was especially crucial given the dark legacy for which he is supposedly destined. I have earlier mentioned about the Fallen God. The worldbuilding in Silent Gods was based on the lore of three Gods – Odar, Lumea and Keos - their elements and creations. The elements of the world, quaire or skywater, lumea or lightfire, and t'rasang or earthblood, were each represented by these Gods (in that order). The magic system was then divided into different forms as dictated by the elemental power behind it. Throughout the book, several interludes recounted the story of the Gods and how Keos became the fallen one. These interludes helped provide history and context without having the characters going into info-dumping monologues. There were also many unfamiliar terms which have been introduced, but not yet explained in this instalment. What I did get out of a specific narrative somewhere in the middle of the book was that The Silent God series will reach epic fantasy proportions. And when there was a Fallen God, there will be monsters. Witches, feurogs and shadow assassins were just a taste of what is in store. The woods that kept Chaenbalu hidden and safe were also strange as shadow-magic can stretch and lengthen the paths to confound travellers. The worldbuilding was fascinating, but at this early stage of the series, its intricacy still quite opaque. Hopefully, throughout this tetralogy, the intriguing complexity will give way to enlightened wonder. Call's writing style is unembellished and non-distracting, which makes the story easy to read and digest. For a book which was so hard to put down, I also loved the relatively short chapters as it helped me squeeze in lots of reading time throughout the day. The pacing was executed quite superbly, with gripping action scenes which were well-written, showcasing both the agility and fighting skills of the trained avatars as well as the magic of the artifacts. The climactic sequence was intense, edge-of-the-seat material; it ended on a grim and poignant note, and even with a few rather shocking surprises. The first arc of this coming-of-age tale was wrapped up, but Annev's fateful journey had barely started. Master of Sorrows is a brilliant and riveting tale of having the courage to find and choose one's path, and it left me wanting more. I recommend this book for lovers of classic epic fantasy looking for a modern voice. You can pre-order this book from: Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide) You can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nils | nilsreviewsit

    Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call is the first book in the Silent Gods series, and I’m pleased to say it was an admirable start. This book was very reminiscent of the earlier classic fantasy books that I used to read from such authors as David Eddings. The Belgariad by Eddings was one of my favourite series and I can certainly see many influences from that in this book such as; a prophecy, warring gods and a young unlikely hero. However, Call managed to put a modern twist to the narrative, Master of Sorrows by Justin Travis Call is the first book in the Silent Gods series, and I’m pleased to say it was an admirable start. This book was very reminiscent of the earlier classic fantasy books that I used to read from such authors as David Eddings. The Belgariad by Eddings was one of my favourite series and I can certainly see many influences from that in this book such as; a prophecy, warring gods and a young unlikely hero. However, Call managed to put a modern twist to the narrative, which I was glad to see. I’d been craving to read something that was nostalgic and charming and this book did the trick. In brief, this first book tells the story of our main protagonist, Annev; a young orphan at an Academy that trains its students to retrieve magical artefacts which have been outlawed by the religious institution. Under the surface though, Annev hides a secret deformity, he can use forbidden magic, and a prophecy states his coming will either break the world or save it. Which path will he choose? Although the magical school trope has been used time and time again, I still found this setting and plot extremely fun and entertaining. As Annev faced trials to become an Avatar, which would lead him to be sent on artefact retrieval missions, he faced bullies, betrayal and the infatuation of young love along the way. He also faced a choice between following his trusted and fatherly-like tutor Sodar, or following his own path. Annev was not your typical perfect at everything type of character; he was naive, angsty, flawed and often goddamn foolish. There were times when I wanted to slap him across the face to make him see sense; especially when he was pining after his beloved Myjun. I’m not a fan of romance in books, so this part of the narrative was not my favourite, but I could see that it reflected the experience of first love. However, there were other times when I was proud to see him think rationally and weigh up his options with some maturity. I felt he was a great rounded character and his coming of age portrayal was done realistically; I mean who hasn’t made mistakes or been naive in their youth? My favourite parts of Master of Sorrows lied within the world building. Most of the story is told from the POV of Annev, but there was a prologue and other breaks throughout that told the history and religious lore of the Gods. Here I could see fantastic use of Norse Mythology had influenced many of the ideas in the book. There was the Staff of Odar which only the worthy could wield, and the Hammer of Keos which could create malicious creatures. I also enjoyed how the stigma of deformities was reflected in the narrative. Any deformity was seen as a sign of a follower of Keos, the corrupted fallen God, and therefore any person with the slightest impairment was either killed or shunned. I appreciated how all this was weaved into the story and there were no large sections of info dumping. Overall this book exceeded my expectations time and time again, especially towards the end, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. Thank you to Gollancz for providing me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    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? Um, THANK YOU???? The hero that could be the villain and the villain that could be the hero is what I need in every. single. book. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital 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? Um, THANK YOU???? The hero that could be the villain and the villain that could be the hero is what I need in every. single. book. 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. This is so messed up, so twisted; it's my special meal, ready to be fully devoured in one huge bite! 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 ... Will he, indeed?? A total must read! I mean, can we just talk about the fact that the series' name is so awesome?? The Silent Gods Yes, please???? So much freaking POTENTIAL!!! I'm anticipating this! Expected publication: February 1st 2019 P.S. When you're the first review!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. The synopsis begun thus: "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 from the very first page I knew this was a book unlike any other I had encountered before. Many elements remained that are a prerequisite for what I consider a stellar fantasy novel - a complex magic system, a fantastical ac Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. The synopsis begun thus: "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 from the very first page I knew this was a book unlike any other I had encountered before. Many elements remained that are a prerequisite for what I consider a stellar fantasy novel - a complex magic system, a fantastical academy, religious and/or cultural politics, a scheming and self-serving hierarchy - but all this was interwoven with something entirely the author's own. This is one of the few fantasy novels I have read where magic is a despised element. Usually it is deeply revered and harnessed. Here it is forbidden and neglected. Yet still ever-present. This creates an immediate bond between the reader and the central character, as we are invited to share a secret from the very prologue. This bond was only ever built upon and I felt, very quickly, how ardently I wished to protect Annev, our young, misguided, and foolhardy yet pure, brave, and relentlessly honest eyes into this world. The town, that much of this novel is centred around, is an isolated one. It is largely self-sufficient and keeps its inhabitants blind to the wider world. Annev's entire life has been structured by the beliefs of the academy's master, who rules it, and much of his misguided notions, of what is right and wrong, stem from his direction. He is fortunate, however, to have another master schooling him. But this other individual is harbouring dark secrets that make Annev question the soundness of his instruction and just what mysteries are lurking in the past of all those around him. As Annev navigates his way through his final trials at the academy, the political weathers outside of the town are continuing to darken and I am excited to see where they will take him in the coming series instalments. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Justin Travis Call , and the publisher, Gollancz, for this opportunity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hiu Gregg

    I’ve had my eye on Master of Sorrows for quite a while. The whole concept of a hero destined to become the villain, and the struggle of fighting against that “destiny”… that’s the sort of thing that speaks to me. But y’know, for a book about a boy destined to become The Great Evil, this is a remarkably relaxing read. There’s a lot of stuff in here that feels familiar, as though it’s pulling from or influenced by classic epic fantasies. And yet it feels fresh. It’s just familiar enough to get you I’ve had my eye on Master of Sorrows for quite a while. The whole concept of a hero destined to become the villain, and the struggle of fighting against that “destiny”… that’s the sort of thing that speaks to me. But y’know, for a book about a boy destined to become The Great Evil, this is a remarkably relaxing read. There’s a lot of stuff in here that feels familiar, as though it’s pulling from or influenced by classic epic fantasies. And yet it feels fresh. It’s just familiar enough to get you comfortable and just original enough to be enjoyable. The world is fascinating, and though the book is a little info-dumpy in places, I can imagine a lot of readers will enjoy losing themselves in discussion and speculation about the lore. To simplify things a bit (a lot), there were two gods who cast down a third god named Keos. Through various faux-biblical interludes, we learn that in this world (or at least in the secluded village of Chaenbalu) those who are disfigured or disabled are considered “cursed”, and therefore agents of Keos. This prejudice runs to the extent that in the prologue, a baby born with no arm past his elbow is sentenced to death. Along with his parents. The baby survives and becomes our protagonist — Annev. Annev is a very idealistic character. Adopted and brought up by the local priest, Sodar, he divides his time between serving as Sodar’s deacon and training to become a warrior thief — an “avatar” — at Chaenbalu’s academy. He is forced to keep his arm a secret through the use of a magical prosthetic, and in turn forced to keep that a secret because, well… magic is evil. Actually, that seems to be the purpose of the Academy: to hunt down and bring back magical artifacts to be locked up. But where the Academy encourages individual achievement and almost vilifies friendship (along with everything else, it seems), Annev believes otherwise. Throughout the book, Annev’s sense of right and wrong is challenged, and he has to do some real soul-searching to decide whether to follow his own moral compass or that of his society. The looming threat of his supposedly evil destiny lends a certain gravity to these scenes, and adds an interesting twist to an otherwise familiar coming-of-age tale. This story is a slow burner. While it is laden with promises of an epic scale, it takes its time getting to that point. We spend a lot of time exploring just what kind of person Annev is, and that pays off with a more satisfying character-arc. The characters as a whole are a bit more Sanderson than Hobb, leaning more to the simple-yet-relatable side rather than more complex and flawed. In terms of writing, Call’s style is quite relaxed and digestible. It’s very easy to fly through the pages, and honestly I devoured this book in far fewer sittings than I was expecting. I do have one pretty major criticism, though. While there is a good core of supporting characters, there’s really only one important, recurring character in this book that’s a woman, and she’s Annev’s love interest. Now, there is some in-world justification for this: Annev spends his days either training under Sodar or at the all-boys Academy, so he isn’t really going to run into many women all that often… But that explanation only stretches so far, and does nothing for the readers who expect to see women in their fiction. There is some indication that this won’t be the case in future books, so hopefully this will improve in the sequels. But looking beyond that, I really did enjoy this book as a whole. I found it to be a wonderful mix of the old and the new, and the ending had me begging for just one… more… chapter. I’m very impressed with Justin Call’s debut, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes. If you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories, magic schools, and the idea of what’s right and what’s wrong, then Master of Sorrows is the book for you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike Everest Evans

    Full review originally posted on http://fantasy-hive.co.uk/ The Good: Destiny and dark magic, a fresh take on time-honoured tropes, a world brimming with history, belief and ideals, action sequences that dare to be different, and a plot filled with secrets and surprises. The Bad: Bit of a slow burner at the start, and some of the early dialogues felt a bit like exposition (albeit necessary when covering this much world-building), but both are worth the pay off. The Ugly Truth: A modern take on the Full review originally posted on http://fantasy-hive.co.uk/ The Good: Destiny and dark magic, a fresh take on time-honoured tropes, a world brimming with history, belief and ideals, action sequences that dare to be different, and a plot filled with secrets and surprises. The Bad: Bit of a slow burner at the start, and some of the early dialogues felt a bit like exposition (albeit necessary when covering this much world-building), but both are worth the pay off. The Ugly Truth: A modern take on the classic coming of age fantasies that embraces its roots amongst the likes of Eddings, Sanderson, Canavan and Weeks, and dares to reach for the stars and carve out its own destiny. A fantastic debut in a promising series. The Review: When I first laid eyes on ‘Master of Sorrows’ I knew that I had to read it. It’s the type of book that made me instantly mark it ‘want to read’ on Goodreads, follow the author on Twitter, and request an ARC from the publisher (hey Stevie! Thanks for hooking me up!). From the gorgeous cover, to the tag line ‘what if you were destined to be a villain?’ I was sold. The blurb sounded fantastic, and with comparisons to Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks (both of which have heavily informed my reading in the past) I was the embodiment of the ‘shut up and take my money’ meme. But was it worth the price of admission? The book starts with a one-page prophecy of sorts (an excerpt from a larger tome), then a prologue set in the recent past, then a lore lesson on the world (excerpts from another tome) and THEN the story begins in the ‘present’. This might sound like a lot – and I realise it is, now that I type this – but they are brilliant! Additionally, whilst this seems like a lot of ‘intro’, in my opinion it introduces the rich and rewarding world-building up front, allowing the reader to get much of the epic scope out of the way (i.e. the history, beliefs and how these have shaped the world) so that the focus can be on the story. The world-building, for me, was fantastic. I picked up on a number of potential real-world influences including Ancient Greece, Christianity, Vikings and China. And despite this being ‘dark’ (the prologue sets the tone, as does the ‘villain’ tagline) for me this was more epic fantasy than grimdark. With the opening sections out of the way, the reader is introduced to Annev. Annev is a young man with a secret that could get him killed (‘coming of age’). He attends the Academy in Chaenbalu (‘magic school’) which teaches its many students (all male – a problem for me that I will touch upon later) in the arts of magic and artefacts, which it guards from misuse by others. The most skilled students go on to become Avatars – warriors thieves charged with retrieving the magical artefacts before they can be used to do harm. Annev is an interesting character, and an easy one to get inside the head of. He’s your typical promised one ‘outsider’, the plucky yet reluctant hero. He’s not the strongest, the smartest, nor the fastest, but he is determined. And, most importantly, he sees the world differently. Not forgetting the fact he has magic… something which would mark him as an enemy to the Academy, if only they knew his secret. Annev was born with one arm (it finishes at the elbow) and this alone marks him as an agent of the dark god Keos, a crime in this world, the sentence for which is death. Annev’s priestly mentor, Sodar, saved him from this fate (see: prologue) and provides him with a magical prosthetic arm to hide the disfigurement. As a student, secure in the Academy (albeit in disguise), Annev’s predicament reminded me of the adage ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer’, except for the fact that he might not be hiding from the Academy and its Masters and Avatars, but from an even greater enemy… There’s plenty going on in the first ‘part’ (the book is 180k~ long, and part one of four is around a third of that) but I did feel that it was a little bit of a slow burn. That is in part due to the sections devoted to discussions between Annev and Sodar, his mentor, who question the status quo that the Academy upholds, and explores the possibilities of the forbidden magic that the two of them can wield (or in Annev’s case is learning to wield). Some of these sections feel a bit like exposition, but they are necessary to truly appreciate the depth of world-building and how this impacts on the story and the plot. At the end of part one (and between the subsequent parts) the reader is run through another ‘excerpt’ of lore, before being launched into the much faster-paced parts two, three and four. This is when the story really took off for me, and like with the pre-chapter one sections, the building at the beginning really helped the story set up so that when it got going, it really got going. However, this does bring me to my one and only major reservation – the presence of female characters. Hiu Gregg has already raised this in his review, and I agree with his thoughts and sentiments. There is only one (and I am stealing Hiu’s words here because I can’t put it any better) ‘recurring female character’ amongst a main cast of males. Don’t get me wrong, the women in the supporting cast are written well, and the recurring character I speak of, Myjun, is well-rounded; but she is also Annev’s romantic interest, which overshadowed her somewhat. The reason for the apparent lack of female presence is explained in the setting as the Academy’s students are all male. Women do feature in the story, and, specifically, the witwomen are incredibly skilled and strong in their own right, with a very interesting and important purpose separate but joined to the Academy. Yet, I can’t help but think that there should be more women taking centre stage in the story. Especially in part one (a good third of the book), the males get a lot of page time in the Academy, but apart from a chapter or two in which they are joined by the witwomen trainees, the only female to stand out is Myjun, and that is because Annev is infatuated with her. I have to stress that this reservation isn’t a slight or ‘shade’/’salt’ (why do all these words begin with S?) on an otherwise well-rounded and promising debut; but for those hoping to see more female characters in fantasy fiction, myself included, you might be disappointed in this initial outing. It is key to note that representation of women does improve throughout the book, and there are signs that the author will be tackling this representation in the rest of the series. On this, I for one am more than willing to go with the in-world flow and see where it takes us. The back-cover states this will be perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Trudi Canavan, Brent Weeks and the Maze Runner. Whilst I agree with all of these, especially Sanderson (Mistborn for prophecy/destiny and Way of Kings for artefacts), Weeks and The Maze Runner, I would additionally liken this to The Faithful and the Fallen series by John Gwynne for his twisted tropes and the purpose of prophecy, and The Poppy War by Rebecca Kuang (R F Kuang), for multiple aspects, including the coming of age / magic school plot, and the dark fantasy vibes. To answer my earlier question – yes, this book is well worth buying into. As others have pointed out, it’s a classic epic fantasy filled with time honoured tropes, told in a modern voice. Part of me wanted more ‘hero destined to be a villain’ as per the tag line, but I am more than impressed with the way this story unfolded. I’m reminded of ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ and how different the world can be depending on your birth (i.e. where you are born, what you look like, who your parents are etc.), and I really appreciated how these were explored. Master of Sorrows is an EPIC start to a series with plenty of promise. It’s a nostalgic romp of classic fantasy in a brave new world, which I have high hopes for in the future.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa B. ☽♡

    Master of Sorrows was a great debut by Justin Travis Calls. It is a dark fantasy that reminded of some other classic fantasy books, such as The Name of the Wind. The book tells the story of Annev, an orphan who studies at the Academy in order to become an Avatar. Avatars are tasked with finding magical objects and hiding them from the world, in order to protect it from their corruption He is also hiding his identity and power. When he was born he was missing a hand, which was a sign that he is a Master of Sorrows was a great debut by Justin Travis Calls. It is a dark fantasy that reminded of some other classic fantasy books, such as The Name of the Wind. The book tells the story of Annev, an orphan who studies at the Academy in order to become an Avatar. Avatars are tasked with finding magical objects and hiding them from the world, in order to protect it from their corruption He is also hiding his identity and power. When he was born he was missing a hand, which was a sign that he is a Son of Keos like his parents. An Ancient killed his parents and tried to kill him too. Annev was saved by Master Sodar who chose to raise him in secret. At the Academy, we see him fight bullies, work with his friends to win the trials, rather than fight them and question the teachings about magic, not blindly accept them. The writing was really good and the action scenes amazing. What I liked the most was the world building, especially the story of the three gods Odar, Lumea and Keos, their powers and magical weapons/artefacts. It had a strong influence of the Norse mythology, which I love. There were a lot of characters in the book, but Annev and Sodar, the main protagonists were very well written. Sodar was a mentor, savior and father figure. He cares about Annev and he doesn't follow the beliefs of the other masters. Annev was the hero of the story. He has a good character, a curious mind that questions everything and he doesn't know his potential. He is genuine and honest, not your typical ''special'' hero, and that makes you like him more. What I didn't like was that there are too many names, characters and things related to the world building, that I found it difficult to keep up with in the beginning. In conclusion, this is a very good start to a new fantasy series. ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same? No need to say anything more - I'll read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alison♊⚜️✨

    ~~I received an ARC from Netgalley/ Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.~~ 3.5/4 stars (I’m not going to do my usual organizational structure for reviews for this one (characters, then plot etc.) as for the characters, most of the main ones changed per different event in the book, so it would be a bit confusing since some were important, then not and so on.) What I liked: - The main aspect I liked about this book was that the story moved a ~~I received an ARC from Netgalley/ Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.~~ 3.5/4 stars (I’m not going to do my usual organizational structure for reviews for this one (characters, then plot etc.) as for the characters, most of the main ones changed per different event in the book, so it would be a bit confusing since some were important, then not and so on.) What I liked: - The main aspect I liked about this book was that the story moved at a reasonable pace and there were no slow moments, where a reader could have gotten bored with reading the book. Also, the idea of having all these gods and half-gods and many different creatures in between was quite original. - In addition, I also liked that the main character was not hugely singled out to be the "special snowflake", unlike many other books where the remaining characters other than the main one were almost hidden because of the importance of the main character. - Furthermore, everything that had been revealed during the book, an explanation happened at once. There were no half-explained events that were going on in the book or events that were never explained, which is the case in a couple of books I've read and thus, the reader remains confused as to why it happened. What I didn't like too much: - However, the many names of the different creatures or characters were a bit confusing and every now & then, I had to search it up to remember who it was. - Additionally, the event that happens at the last chapter to a particular character was a bit unrealistic given what happened to that particular character beforehand (I can't go into it without spoiling the book). In conclusion, this book was a really good debut that I really enjoyed and hopefully, I will get to read the sequels of this series.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Well, damn. This felt like a book and a half. Yes, at 400+ pages, once I finished it felt like I had read a 800+ page book. Why? Because so much happened Yeeees, I have to admit, for me it sliiiiightly felt infodumpey in a few parts whilst reading but all in all, by the end I felt sated by this first book in The Silent Gods series. It has been a while since I last read a fantasy title where magic is a big, bloody NO!-NO!. Basically, there is an ‘order’ of Masters who make sure that all of the ma Well, damn. This felt like a book and a half. Yes, at 400+ pages, once I finished it felt like I had read a 800+ page book. Why? Because so much happened Yeeees, I have to admit, for me it sliiiiightly felt infodumpey in a few parts whilst reading but all in all, by the end I felt sated by this first book in The Silent Gods series. It has been a while since I last read a fantasy title where magic is a big, bloody NO!-NO!. Basically, there is an ‘order’ of Masters who make sure that all of the magical artefacts are collected and hidden away from any kind of use and that anyone who has the marks of being any bit magical (like our protagonist’s missing below elbow arm) would be eliminated pretty much at sight. These are the kind of Masters that kill first and asks questions later. These are the kind of Masters that run the Academy who train young boys (there is also the female equivalent) to protect the world. Quite a black and white world. So- magic=bad, missing limbs=bad. What a tw*t of an unfair world! Annev, our young protagonist that I mentioned above, is doubly doomed because not only does he have a missing arm, he has another secret- which shall not be mentioned here. What does this mean for Annev? Well, he doesn’t have a lot of choice but he tries. Tutored by a priestly Master, Annev gets by and his future at the Academy is looking OK. He has one more chance left to pass the test to advance from his Acolyte status to a Master status. He has a chance at a girl – OOoOOOOOOh! But, I mean, you can imagine the dilemmas already with the secrets he has to hide, the secrets even HE doesn’t yet know (but will come to daylight). Plus, if you have a bunch of young men, there will be an abundance of egos and there’s always this one arse who enjoys showing force and power over others. And thus happens, as scripted, doobies will hit the fan and everything starts to unravel. dun-dun-duuuunnnn… Master of Sorrows is a solid, strong story that spares no detail. The whole book just made me think: now, this is a book that I feel the author really enjoyed writing. It is a fruit of love and labour!One can tell. It’s methodical and interesting and everything is thought through. A full picture. No confusion. The pace is steady- it stops on certain scenes longer than is really necessary BUT… but, but, but… it is an adventure. And boy, I can only imagine how full on things are going to get in the next instalment! Can’t wait! The setting was interesting and the conflicts kept rolling the story forward. I was constantly trying to think ahead at the possible scenarios and outcomes following certain scenes and I think I was quite often missing the mark. Basically, the good fantasy readers over at Goodreads have provided some really good reviews to entice you more expertly on the undertones and inner-workings of Master of Sorrows so do head on over and get the validation you need to give this book a try. I sure am happy and grateful I was approved for this eARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andy Angel

    Some great ideas here and more than a few WTF did i just read moments too. Reminded me a lot of David Eddings, Robert Jordan etc but also, so much more than that. There is a rich history of Gods, Younger Gods, prophecy which makes for a quite delicious read and the idea that our hero is 'destined to be a villain' (from the ARC copy cover) makes for a different spin on things. I'll post a more detailed review nearer to release date in February but until then i have one question... Is it too early t Some great ideas here and more than a few WTF did i just read moments too. Reminded me a lot of David Eddings, Robert Jordan etc but also, so much more than that. There is a rich history of Gods, Younger Gods, prophecy which makes for a quite delicious read and the idea that our hero is 'destined to be a villain' (from the ARC copy cover) makes for a different spin on things. I'll post a more detailed review nearer to release date in February but until then i have one question... Is it too early to say Book Of The Year 2019?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Raquel Flockhart

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Unseen Library

    I received a copy of Master of Sorrows from Hachette Australia to review. Rating of 4.5. I have been looking forward to reading and reviewing Master of Sorrows for a while now. I previously mentioned this book in one of my Waiting on Wednesday articles, which got a fair amount of attention, which I took as a sign of some interest from the general fantasy fandom. The intriguing-sounding plot also made me extremely eager to check this book out, so I was very happy when I received a copy of it from H I received a copy of Master of Sorrows from Hachette Australia to review. Rating of 4.5. I have been looking forward to reading and reviewing Master of Sorrows for a while now. I previously mentioned this book in one of my Waiting on Wednesday articles, which got a fair amount of attention, which I took as a sign of some interest from the general fantasy fandom. The intriguing-sounding plot also made me extremely eager to check this book out, so I was very happy when I received a copy of it from Hachette Australia. In the end I found Master of Sorrows to be a terrific piece of fantasy fiction and an outstanding debut from first-time author Justin Call. The world of Luquatra has known much chaos and turmoil throughout its long history as three elder gods and their followers have battled for supremacy. But now with the dark god Keos banished from the land, the greatest concern for many is the presence of magic. The ancient and hidden Academy of Chaenbalu has long been a bastion against all things magic and will go to extreme lengths to achieve its primary objective of finding and containing the vast number of magical artefacts scattered throughout Luquatra. No artefact, no matter its strength or intended purpose, can be allowed to remain outside the control of the Academy, as even those artefacts created for good can be used for great evil. In order to fulfil this sacred work, the Academy trains all the children of Chaenbula in the arts of combat and magical detection. Only the best students will become Avatars, warrior thieves capable of infiltrating any location and making away with the hidden artefacts. Most importantly, an Avatar is trained to resist the lure of magic and the corruption of Keos. Annev de Breth has always dreamed of becoming an Avatar and is determined to pass the Academy’s tests. However, Annev is different from every other student at the Academy; trained by the town’s mysterious priest, Annev has an affinity for magic and hides a secret disfigurement that would see him immediately put to death. Caught between the warring ideologies of the man who raised him and the head of the Academy, Annev needs to decide what kind of man he wants to be while navigating the complex politics of Chaenbalu. But ancient powers are rising from the past, and it soon becomes apparent that Annev might not be the hero of this story; instead, he may be the man destined to unleash Keos once more upon Luquatra. To see the full review check out the link below: https://unseenlibrary.com/2019/03/09/... An abridged version of this review ran in the Canberra Weekly on 7 March 2019: https://unseenlibrary.com/2019/03/09/... Or visit my blog at: https://unseenlibrary.com/

  16. 4 out of 5

    gelowmichael

    4/5 stars In stores February 21, 2019 And I am deciding to dive into fantasy and thanks to the publisher that I got accepted with this ARC and to the Novel Notions group who got me hype with this whole new series! The way that a fantasy submerged you with a vast and wide range of imagination will make you focus more on every detail that the book wants you to invest in. While reading this book, I got this LOTR vibe setting mixed with An Ember in the Ashes. And this makes me more excited about what 4/5 stars In stores February 21, 2019 And I am deciding to dive into fantasy and thanks to the publisher that I got accepted with this ARC and to the Novel Notions group who got me hype with this whole new series! The way that a fantasy submerged you with a vast and wide range of imagination will make you focus more on every detail that the book wants you to invest in. While reading this book, I got this LOTR vibe setting mixed with An Ember in the Ashes. And this makes me more excited about what I can invest in this type of stories. Ainnevog Berth is an apprentice of Sodar a priest, who raised him from birth after his parents died of unexplainable circumstances. But Annev is not an ordinary child but a mysterious offspring objectified by a long history of three god siblings with a long rivalry. Now, Annev tries to be a master in the academy by hiding his truth and paves the way to surpass every trials and challenge towards becoming the Master of Sorrows. The first half of the book was a slow burning process. There are certain parts that I got this notion to DNF the book but it gave me this urged to look way beyond to what the story has to offer. Annev is an acolyte in this book wherein he and his friends undergo a series of lessons and trials from them to be part of the academy's finest masters. I got his Nevernight vibe when it comes to this part of lessons and trials. The story revolves within an era which magic doesn't exist and magic is equated to anomaly correlated with god, Keos. These anomalies are called Keokum and the academy was trying to eliminate these monsters. So, the masters and the acolytes used so-called "rods/staff" which they used to hunt and kill Keokums. Each rod/staff has different power and use. There is this rod that paralyzes and constraint a person and so and so forth. The use of staff/s brings me the memory of a Japanese novel character called the Monkey King. The acolytes use these rods to every trial and without knowledge of every rod leads them to even be paralyzed instead using it their enemies. I hate that romance was slowly paved the way in a story especially I quite lost track of the time or year in the story and chapters away Annev is marrying the daughter of the head of the academy! Oh my! I asked myself, " where I am in this story?" But thanks to the author for not "overemphasizing" the romance in the story but instead narrates substantial relationship between Annev and Sodar, Annev and his friends and Annev and his rivalries. I never expected the ending and it was mind blowing and heart wrenching. The way the author makes you invested in the specific characters and suddenly they are dead at the end. What a great Game of Thrones feels. Master of Sorrows is a story of friendship and what it is to change your destiny predicted and dictated by the people who surround you. The sequel, Master of Forge is in writing and I can't take it because I really want to have that copy because of that epilogue! Thank you, Gollancz, for providing ARC in exchange for an honest review

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenniely

    Hi friends! I am so excited to be opening up this blog tour and sharing my review of Justin Call’s debut, Master of Sorrows! ❝What if you were destined to be a villain?❞ I honestly LOVED this book so much. A dark fantasy to rival Name of the Wind, Annev faces adversity and his own destiny. I was hooked in straight away and could not put this book down. The world building was on FIRE and I can’t wait to read more from this series. As always this review will be spoiler free. Master of Sorrows is a dar Hi friends! I am so excited to be opening up this blog tour and sharing my review of Justin Call’s debut, Master of Sorrows! ❝What if you were destined to be a villain?❞ I honestly LOVED this book so much. A dark fantasy to rival Name of the Wind, Annev faces adversity and his own destiny. I was hooked in straight away and could not put this book down. The world building was on FIRE and I can’t wait to read more from this series. As always this review will be spoiler free. Master of Sorrows is a dark fantasy following Annev, a student at the Academy, training to be a Master. So there’s fighting and training, which I LOVE. The Academy believes it is righteous in it’s endeavours but as a reader we are inclined to disagree. I love the moral battle as Annev tries to navigate this place and the Master’s who’s ideologies are at complete odds to who he is and what he believes. His mentor, Sodar, is the wise old man we often find in these stories, and I really enjoyed their interactions! Magic is bad, deformities/disabilities are bad and associated with the work of the ‘evil’ god, Keos (trigger warning relating to this at the bottom). We have a whole host of magical and mythological beings from gods to witches and I loved how they were woven together. I don’t want to say much more in my overview as I REALLY don’t want to spoil this book as it had me GRIPPED on every page. Oh and this story broke my heart – it’s DARK. I mean it – really dark. GRAB THE TISSUES. ❝“So which is it?” Tosan said, glaring at him. “Are you a lying fool… or are you stupid?” Rhetorical or not, Annev didn’t have an answer for that – he didn’t see how kindness could be stupid, and he wouldn’t apologise for it.”❞ Structure The story is very character driven and I LOVED it. Annev has to battle his inner demons (heh) and try to decide what his integrity is worth. The world building in Master of Sorrows was beautifully done. Complex enough to be fascinating but not confusing, the magic system was so interesting and was different to most I’ve seen before. The mythologies were also well developed and I honestly just loved it. It’s fast paced and I struggled to put it down in all honesty! We’re told the story from Annev’s POV, with interesting chapters on the history of the gods at the beginning of each ‘Part’ of the book which was masterfully done. Characters As I mentioned this story is very character driven, with Annev discovering and fighting his destiny as well as his own inner turmoil. I really liked seeing his growth as a character, the lessons he learnt (and didn’t learn) on the way. Sodar was brilliant and to be honest I wish we’d seen more of him as I just LOVED his relationship with Annev. I have a feeling we’ve got a lot more to learn about him! I think all of the characters were so well developed and thought out, I really enjoyed them. There weren’t any ‘fillers’ as it were. I won’t go into loads of detail here as I really don’t want to spoil (but PLEASE message me once you’ve read it if you want to discuss) but I LOVED THE GROWTH OF THE CHARACTERS. Some regressed, some grew into better people, some got kind of okay, and it was GREAT. I loathed some of the characters, which just means that it was written well. I cannot WAIT to see what happens in the next instalment. *Content Warning* In this world, those with disabilities or any sort of deformity (even scars) are considered ‘Sons of Keo’ aka Evil by most. They’re killed or shunned. This is an important part of the storyline as Annev is hiding his own ‘deformity’. Please be aware of this going in in case this is something that might offend you. Full review on my blog: https://jenniely.com/master-of-sorrow...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Jackson

    Man, I needed that. The breath of air you get from MoS is both fresh and nostalgic at once; fast-paced and compelling, it reads like a classic fantasy without feeling derivative. It harkens to Earthsea and Name of the Wind, but its world is wholly original. We glimpse intimations of its grander scope, and the promised twist--that the Chosen One is prophesied to be an instrument of darkness instead of good--is tantalizingly alluded to, but never realized. I assume this development will be expound Man, I needed that. The breath of air you get from MoS is both fresh and nostalgic at once; fast-paced and compelling, it reads like a classic fantasy without feeling derivative. It harkens to Earthsea and Name of the Wind, but its world is wholly original. We glimpse intimations of its grander scope, and the promised twist--that the Chosen One is prophesied to be an instrument of darkness instead of good--is tantalizingly alluded to, but never realized. I assume this development will be expounded on in later installments. To summarize: relatable characters, plenty of action, excellent world-building, and a fantastic story! I'll be counting down the days to book two's publication.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becca - Wicked Quests of a BookNinja

    5 ’Wow’ Stars I need to revisit this book in the foreseeable future as I still can’t believe a book so perfect can exist. This is why I love fantasy. This book is FANTASY.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Izzie

    I enjoyed Master of Sorrows, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series has in store - however something just felt a little flat, so for now I'm giving it 3.5 which I might up to four stars when I write a full review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    BookSteff

    I'm not going to do my normal synopsis summery before delving into this, because quite frankly the less you know the better! Do you know those books, that make you want to forgo sleep? The ones that have you in that state of indecision to devour it in a day or savour it slowly? Master of Sorrows by Justin Call is one of those books! Hands down a beautifully written, and well constructed fantasy that is not to be missed. This book was without a doubt epic! It had all the amazing feels of fantasy w I'm not going to do my normal synopsis summery before delving into this, because quite frankly the less you know the better! Do you know those books, that make you want to forgo sleep? The ones that have you in that state of indecision to devour it in a day or savour it slowly? Master of Sorrows by Justin Call is one of those books! Hands down a beautifully written, and well constructed fantasy that is not to be missed. This book was without a doubt epic! It had all the amazing feels of fantasy with so many new and great things. There was not one point during this book that I thought "Hmm, I'll just pop it down." It had me hooked from the beginning. I love our main character Annev, I love the way Justin Call shows us his strife and inner battles (as well as all the amazing outside ones too). This world is fantastic, and Justin Call had me eating out the palm of his hand with his unique set of Gods and their history. I am a sucker for insight into how religions are born within fantasy, and this book was just so spot on for me I really feel like I don't have the words to do it justice. I will be adding a review to my blog on Thursday 21st Feb - the day of release for this fantastic fantasy! I really cannot recommend it enough. Definitely one to add to your shelves.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher, Orion, for providing me a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. This book was great, it had magic, great world building and it was action packed! I will say this book does sort of throw you in and you figure things out as you read. Even after reading it I had so many questions which should be cleared up in the next books. The book has its own history which links in to what is happening. The book also has a couple of parts or extracts abo Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher, Orion, for providing me a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. This book was great, it had magic, great world building and it was action packed! I will say this book does sort of throw you in and you figure things out as you read. Even after reading it I had so many questions which should be cleared up in the next books. The book has its own history which links in to what is happening. The book also has a couple of parts or extracts about the gods of the world. There are three gods and Keos is the 'bad' one. There is also Oder and his sister who are the 'good' gods. The world is based around these gods. It has a religion that follows them and prophesies which is woven throughout the book. It begins with a birth, this child is missing an arm and so they believe he is the son of Keos. They try to kill the baby and they do kill his parents because they believe Keos is the devil like figure. The action begins in the prologue and I have to say this book does start as it means to go on. It times jumps and now the boy from the prologue is training at the academy to become a avatar. The academy believe magic is evil and annev questions this. The trials were fun to read and I loved that Annev wanted to work with people rather than trying to do it on his own. Annev wants to become an avatar and he wants to get the girl but he doesn't want to disappoint Sodor who raised him. He has to go through so much; trials, a test set by Tason, fighting a witch, learning the truth about himself and prophecy from Sodor, his duties at the academy, rivals and things just keep going wrong. The academy is attacked and he has to fight with one arm which reveals him as a 'son of Keos'. Even at the end I feel Annev is going to go through a lot more as the epilogue sets it up. The writing flows really well and I found the action sequences to be exciting. I really loved how it was written. I loved the mentor-son relationship between Sodor and Annev. If you like high fantasy with good characters and great world building then you will like this book. The Characters! There are so many amazing characters in this book, it would take too long to list them all. Sodor - He is a magic priest, has the gift of Odor and he is Annev's guardian. He follows the true religion of Odor and he believes in Annev. He is there for Annev and wants him to be happy. Sodor was probably my favourite character. Annev - Annev is the main character. He goes through so much, realises a lot and has to figure out a lot for himself. I loved that he always tried to follow his heart and didn't compromise his morals. Myjun - she is the girl Annev loves, she is the daughter of Tosan and believes her father that if anyone is scared or missing a limb they are a son of Keos and are evil. I didn't really like her because of that. Sraon - is the village blacksmith. He is a friend to Annev and Sodor. The rest of the village don't trust him because he is scared. He always helps Annev when he needs it and I hope to see more of him in the next book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    BookSteff

    Review to come, I can't wait to talk about this 🤗 stay tuned 😉!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Daryl Graves

    5/5 Stars "What if you were destined to be a villain?" Master of Sorrows is the first in The Silent Gods series and an absolute sensational début novel. Early on in this book I was reminded why I love reading and specifically the fantasy genre. So here's everything I loved about Justin Call's Master of Sorrows. Straight from the start you get the feel that this story is a unique story that separates itself from anything else you've ever read. We follow the main character, Annev De Breth, as he trie 5/5 Stars "What if you were destined to be a villain?" Master of Sorrows is the first in The Silent Gods series and an absolute sensational début novel. Early on in this book I was reminded why I love reading and specifically the fantasy genre. So here's everything I loved about Justin Call's Master of Sorrows. Straight from the start you get the feel that this story is a unique story that separates itself from anything else you've ever read. We follow the main character, Annev De Breth, as he tries to fulfil his dream of becoming an avatar at the academy of Chaenbalu. Trained in the art of combat and detection of magical artefacts, these boys are pushed to their absolute limits on a daily basis ready for the assessment day. If you're successful you become an avatar, if you fail, you become a steward which is basically a slave with minor luxuries. So no pressure. Annev lives with the village priest, Sodar. The only other person who knows Annev's secret. He wears a magical prosthetic arm. According to the laws of Chaenbalu, this is something that will get him killed if anyone else finds out. The whole School/Academy idea for me was what had me fixated. It kind of reminded me of a shaolin monk school with a magic twist to it. Annev and his two friends also have to deal with the school bullies. This fits perfectly into the story and adds to a lot of the action early on. I found myself cheering when Annev got one over on them and actually got pissed off when they got one over on Annev. When the assessment day comes around I was literally sat on the end of my sofa and reading each page with monstrous speed. It was really intense and I loved the idea behind it. The world building was another huge part for me. Despite it being a pretty big world, we spend most of our time in Chaenbalu. This isn't a bad thing. There is so much action going on in Chaenbalu that it never crossed my mind that we hadn't stepped outside of the village until we actually did, which doesn't happen until at least 3/4 of the way through. I wont go into too much detail for fear of giving spoilers away but, this is the section where we get to see more of the magic artefacts and lots of fighting, which was really cool. There are four parts to this book and at the start of each is a section from the Book of Terra. It's basically information about what happened with the three main Gods. Usually in books this can be boring and sometimes has nothing to do with the main story, but I found it really interesting and there would also be parts in the book where you would think back to certain sections and it all starts to make sense. I thought this bit of history was a great addition that gelled well with the main story. This was the perfect book to read after hitting a bit of a reading slump with the last two books. I loved everything about it from start to finish! Master of sorrows is one of those books that I'll be recommending at every opportunity and I cannot wait for the next book! I would like to thank Gollancz and Justin Call for the opportunity to read and review Master of sorrows. It's been one hell of a journey.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Hook

    Truth in lending clause: I was not given this book, I paid my own money for it and had it shipped from the UK to the US. I did it because I have had conversations with Justin on a writing tools web site and I like to support the folks there who are successful. However the only bias in my review is that, if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t post a review. However I like the book, so I am posting and I am not lying about how good a book I think it is. ;-) I just finished Master of Sorrows and it i Truth in lending clause: I was not given this book, I paid my own money for it and had it shipped from the UK to the US. I did it because I have had conversations with Justin on a writing tools web site and I like to support the folks there who are successful. However the only bias in my review is that, if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t post a review. However I like the book, so I am posting and I am not lying about how good a book I think it is. ;-) I just finished Master of Sorrows and it is quite a ride and a helluva good story. I don't read a lot of high fantasy, dark or otherwise, so I'm not sure what's old and what's new here, but I found a lot to like. I loved the mytheo-religious backstory. It seems a very deep well that the author can draw a lot from. I loved the way that the story wove multiple story types into a coherent tapestry. It's kind of a coming of age story, but the story itself has amazing compression (I'm pretty sure that, after the prologue, the entire 500+ pages takes place in about a week at most). So, in reality, it's a coming of age story where we are coming in at the point where the boy becomes a man. This is done so cleanly, without resorting to flashback, just memory. that it works very well. The compression really manages to give the story a frenetic pace. This is also a book with an intriguing premise. Asocial order where magic is considered evil and the powers that be see their mission as going into the world to recover magical artifacts and store them away in a vault. There’s also some notions of purity thrown in there (deformity is bad, and, in general, if there is something about you the order doesn’t like, you must be the spawn of a bad god). So we get a corrupt social order which still has a shiny surface at the beginning of the book but rots from inside throughout the book. However Annev is torn between what the Academy tells him and what Sodar, priest and surrogate father tells him, and he doesn’t quite know who’s lying to him. Both have secrets. To make things more complicated, he is also torn because his judgment is clouded by what he’d rather believe. I'm also impressed with the author’s ability to keep the story moving despite a good deal of dialogue and inner reflection. Moreover the evolution as events unfold is seamless. Watching Annev struggle to be a good person even as events and his own inner demons draw him to do things he doesn't want to do—but also his clever ways he finds to do what's right in horrible circumstances—is handled skillfully and keeps the reader from ever feeling they know what choices Annev will make much less what choices he’ll be offered. It’s part of what made the book impossible to put down and so wonderfully exhausting when you reach the end. The world building is rich and well paced, threaded throughout the events Annev (and the reader) are caught up in. I didn’t find any slowing down of the story to accomplish it. The story does start off slowly, but it allows us an opportunity to not only immerse us in this world but to establish real human relationships that the story will depend on, particularly between Annev and Sodar. However, the story quickly builds, tying threads into a tighter and tighter knot. This is a promising first novel by someone who is a great storyteller and I personally am looking forward to the rest of this series. I see great things in Mr. Call’s future.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Raven

    In the hidden village of Chaenbalu, there was an institution called the Academy who taught their students to become Avatars, soldiers who dedicated their life for the retrieval of magical artifacts from around the world—or as we could also call them, thieves. The Academy would keep such artifacts at their Vault of Damnation because everything tainted by magic was deemed too dangerous for human. Annev de Breth was one of the students who will face the final test that could decide their fate for th In the hidden village of Chaenbalu, there was an institution called the Academy who taught their students to become Avatars, soldiers who dedicated their life for the retrieval of magical artifacts from around the world—or as we could also call them, thieves. The Academy would keep such artifacts at their Vault of Damnation because everything tainted by magic was deemed too dangerous for human. Annev de Breth was one of the students who will face the final test that could decide their fate for the rest of their life. For Annev to marry Myjun, the girl of his dream, he had to pass the test and become an Avatar. If he failed, he would become a mere Steward and not allowed to marry. Annev was different from his classmates at the Academy for two reasons. First, he wasn't raised inside Academy, but he was raised by Sodar, the village priest. Sodar also taught him about magic and helped him to hide his secret, which became the second reason. Annev was born without an arm and he hid it with magical prosthetic that Sodar stole from the Vault back when he was a baby. This fact must stay hidden because in the superstitious village under the Academy, people believed that everyone scarred and deformed as blessed by Keos, the God if Destruction. If they found out, he would be stoned to death. These high stakes risks followed Annev everyday but as the fool boy he was, he decided to risk everything to get his happily ever after with Myjun. But what if Annev really a Son of Keos? What other secrets Sodar hid from him? What I like from this book is the actions and secrets unraveling one by one. Never a boring scene because if Annev not moving, then he'll be left second-guessing a new clue. Although he's a fool in love, thankfully he's also good at strategies and making plans. I also like the party we're with at the end. One school bully in particular reminds me of Katsuki Bakugou; selfish, explosive, and irrational but he has mad skills. (We won't continue this comparison because unlike Bakugou, Fyn was not interested in being a hero) The mythological pieces of the world was also interesting, although I was confused by a few things. Perhaps it's better if author put a glossary at the end of the book. I really can't memorize every term and strange names 😅 What I didn't like is the conservative society and the way of thinking. You're an orphan boy, you will be an Avatar or Steward. You're a girl, you'll be witwomen. You want a married life at the age of 17. Why so boring? I still have hopes that once they move into another city they will find another, different culture.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    This is a very strong dark fantasy debut that will appeal directly to fans of The Poppy War and The Name of the Wind. It’s intense, mystical and brutal. The novel is Asian inspired, depicting a fighting academy that has an eastern quality to it. The masters who rule their and teach their ways despise the use of magic and hoard it in their secret vault to protect the world from its effects. They hunt and kill magic users and will gladly slay an infant at birth if they bare the taint of magic. The This is a very strong dark fantasy debut that will appeal directly to fans of The Poppy War and The Name of the Wind. It’s intense, mystical and brutal. The novel is Asian inspired, depicting a fighting academy that has an eastern quality to it. The masters who rule their and teach their ways despise the use of magic and hoard it in their secret vault to protect the world from its effects. They hunt and kill magic users and will gladly slay an infant at birth if they bare the taint of magic. They are an order that appear benevolent but have many dark secrets they hide from the boys they claim to train for the benefit of humanity. Driving the plot is a strong undercurrent of destiny and dark magic. Our hero (Annev) is being hunted by dark forces. Dark gods want him; they want to use him for the power he can channel. He lives in secret at the academy training to become an avatar of the order. The masters have no idea that one of their enemies is in plain sight. And this made the novel quite tense in points, there were several close moments when Annev’s identity was almost revealed. Such a thing would mean his death and banishment from the place he calls home. The story took several unexpected directions, so I was certain this reveal could happen at any time. Fans of The Poppy War will, undoubtably, really appreciate this one. Both novels begin in a training academy, but slowly burst out into the real world as death approaches quickly. I really do recommend trying this if you like R.F Kuang’s writing. Justin Travis Calls’ novel is much darker from the outset, though he uses the school trope just as effectively. And I really liked how quickly the book moved forward, it didn’t mess around as the story constantly developed as more elements were added in. It also contains a very dark and dramatic prologue, which I couldn’t wait to find more about. And when the reveals came, I wasn’t disappointed. As a protagonist, Annev is the archetypal reluctant hero. He is unaware of his potential. His greatest strength is his ability to question and to think independently aside from the brainwashing that occurs at the academy (similar to Kvothe’s ingenuity.) This allows him to succeed time and time again where he would potentially fail because he has not yet fully come to trust his own physical abilities. It also makes the action quite interesting as the characters begin to work together as a unit rather than as independent warriors. And I think as friendships and trust grows across books, this could become much stronger. He is quite a compelling character, genuine and honest, so it becomes hard not to root for him. It will be intriguing to see what the dark magic he possesses does to his personality as it begins to manifest itself more strongly. For now though this is the beginnings of a new and exciting fantasy series that kept throwing surprises my way – a solid 8.5/10. ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James (ObservantRaven)

    What to say about a book that takes some of the most used fantasy tropes and mixes it with a dash of classic fantasy, normally I would say could be good if done right… that was before I came across Master of Sorrows. Gone is the pure, orphaned boy who is destined for greatness and legacy tells will some day save the land. Justin T. Call throws these to the fire and from the ashes creates an astounding dark fantasy that will make you completely rethink these fantasy tropes. Before you pick up this What to say about a book that takes some of the most used fantasy tropes and mixes it with a dash of classic fantasy, normally I would say could be good if done right… that was before I came across Master of Sorrows. Gone is the pure, orphaned boy who is destined for greatness and legacy tells will some day save the land. Justin T. Call throws these to the fire and from the ashes creates an astounding dark fantasy that will make you completely rethink these fantasy tropes. Before you pick up this book I would advise you to clear you schedule, from the outset of this book I was instantly drawn towards the world and characters that have been created and found it very hard to put this down. As I progressed through the book I gradually noticed that the portrayal of the world was primarily character focused as everything you learn about the world came from how the characters interacted with it, their emotions and how they act. Seeing a world developed this way was beautiful as it allows you to be completely immersed in how a character acts and when they are emotionally charged you empathise with them. We see this with many different characters, even the gods and the moments with the gods are some of the most important as you start to understand how this is reflected in the worlds humanity and how it has impacted them. For me that alone would make me really enjoy a book however this story also holds a mystery and as you progress you are teased with small snippets of information that truly start to unfold what is really going on. It was during these moment that I was truly griped as I wanted to know more about what was going on and how this would effect the overall story. One minor mystery I really loved learning more about was the weapons and armour that exist in the world, I won’t delve anymore into that as I could possibly spoil a moment of joy. Master of Sorrows doesn’t have a great deal of fighting scenes but when you come across them they are an utter joy to read. Justin T. Call has crafted and paced them brilliantly as during these scenes he goes through many important parts of a fight, a persons movement, stance and positioning. Due to this they flowed very well and made it very easy to imagine them taking place. There are no words to describe how much I loved reading Master of Sorrows and there was not a single aspect of it that I didn’t enjoy. Master of Sorrows is a phoenix born a new from the ashes of fantasy tropes and a fantastic book to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This Fantasy novel is the latest debut here in the UK that is being highly promoted. It has a lot that you may recognise, at least at the start. Annev de Breth is a child with a destiny, who begins this novel as a crippled baby. This is important to the plot as this is a world where any physical deformation is seen as a result of being a ‘Son of Keos’ and the person is killed. Using magic is seen also as the result of being allied to Keos, and so magicians are hunted down and executed. Any magic This Fantasy novel is the latest debut here in the UK that is being highly promoted. It has a lot that you may recognise, at least at the start. Annev de Breth is a child with a destiny, who begins this novel as a crippled baby. This is important to the plot as this is a world where any physical deformation is seen as a result of being a ‘Son of Keos’ and the person is killed. Using magic is seen also as the result of being allied to Keos, and so magicians are hunted down and executed. Any magic artefact found is either stored in the Vault of Damnation at the Academy in Chaenbalu or destroyed by Avatars of Judgement whose purpose is to travel the world locating and destroying such objects. Annev is hidden away until he is a teenager. The first part of the novel shows him as a trainee Avatar of Judgement at the Academy and raised by Sodan, a strict elderly mentor who promised to look after the boy when his parents died. As is usual in such matters, Annev is well-liked by some students, who are unaware of his disability, but bullied by others, as they go through a series of challenges in preparation for the Test of Judgement, which lead to one student a year being chosen to be an Avatar. As the beginning of a novel which is the first part of a series, a lot of this part of the book is setting up the scenario, the world and introducing the characters. It’s done pretty well, and you do work things out fairly easily, as it is all based on characteristics that are easy to recognise. Annev is engaging, likeable and often has honourable intentions, his mentor Sodan is strict but good-hearted. Tosan, the Headmaster of the Academy, is stern and hostile, although this may be partly due to Annev holding a flame for his daughter, the beautiful and alluring fellow student Myjun. This may be just what the reader requires at the start of a novel. However the downside of this is that you can’t help feeling that you’ve read it all before. It also doesn’t really help that the first part of the book seems to portend a great deal – THIS IS IMPORTANT, FOR IMPORTANT THINGS TO COME - whilst fairly mundane things are happening (school, chores, bullying). It also may not surprise the well-read genre reader that Annev makes it through, though not entirely without individual sacrifice. Much of the story is about the often-opposing struggles between what is right and wrong, and making choices. Sometimes, as in life, the choices made are not the best and much of the book is spent showing the consequences of dealing with such actions. At this point there is a plot-convenience, when Annev’s success in the Test of Judgement leads to him becoming fast-tracked through the social system. He becomes not an Avatar of Judgement, but a Master Avatar. He is then immediately sent on a dangerous mission to kill someone who has stumbled across the hidden village. There is a reason given, but it does seem rather forced and all too convenient. (Surely you would help a new staff-member to settle in and acclimatise themselves to their new position before sending them off the same day on a dangerous mission?) Whilst I guess that such actions can be seen as an attempt to make Annev fail, it felt more like the resolution of a plot point rather than something that was logical. It is not the only such example in the book. And it was at this point that I struggled to keep reading. However, it is then that the book became more interesting, as the story started to engage my attention once more. The last part of the novel makes up for the stodgy first part. There are revelations, not all of which are expected. Friendships are made, tested and lost and there are discoveries that have serious consequences for those involved. The lengthy battle scenes, once begun, are well written and, unlike the training sequences at the beginning of the novel, feel less superfluous. There is an Epilogue which shows that the story has not ended here. In the hands of another writer such a story could be written as an uplifting one – how a teenager overcomes his challenges to be a better person and create a better world. However, in the end, this takes a different path. To borrow from another famous example, what we read here is not the story of Luke Skywalker but that of Anakin (or perhaps even Rey.) What we are really reading here is not the story of a hero but instead that of an anti-hero. Master of Sorrows is a solid debut, told with some skill that suggests that this writer has more to offer. Whilst it is clearly a debut novel, there are parts that keep the pages turning, after a humdrum start.  In these times when there are many, many genre books treading similar paths, it is difficult to tell a unique story that follows a different path. Master of Sorrows is a good attempt to be distinct, although its ambition leads to things being a little overstretched in places.

  30. 4 out of 5

    O.R.

    Hero might be the villain? BRING IT It’s been a while since I couldn’t wait for a book as much as for this one. Countdown!

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