26 Aug 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: MASTER OF SORROWS by Justin T. Call


Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Justin T. Call
Series: The Silent Gods #1
Source: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 21, 2019

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 . . .
This was mostly a good book until it wasn’t. The premise of Master of Sorrows was intriguing: a boy missing an arm in a world where those with physical scars and “deformities” are presumed to be worshipers of the dark god, with forbidden magic and a secret quest.

The first 60% was interesting but when you compare to the synopsis and the remainder of the book, it becomes bad and dragging. Too often I found myself wanting to skip ahead and get to the good part, but truthfully there was no good part. The characters were dull, the plot meandered too much, and nothing gets explained.

Far from being a dark, sordid tale of a descent into dark magics and a walk along the confusing and tormenting line of morality, Master of Sorrows reads like a “dark book” for a much younger reader. The main character, Annev, is very driven by friendship and loyalty and love to an extent that it is kind of comical. Annev belongs to an order of religious Masters who live in secrecy and are devoted to stealing and sealing away magical artefacts, which they consider to be tools of the dark god.

Annev’s dream is to become a Master and to do so he must pass a trial. There has been one trial a month for the past year, and he has failed every single one. Not out of lack of skill, but because he deliberately sabotages his own attempts to help his friends (even though only one person can pass each trial!!). One of his friends has no desire at all to become a Master and the other is devoid of any of the necessary skills. Yet Annev deliberately sabotages his own dream to "help" his friends. It’s absurd! It’s infuriating! It reads like a child’s morality tale and it made me want to throw the book (not literally, I listened to the audiobook) out the window.

Nothing about the school or their upbringing made any sense - ESPECIALLY when you get the to ending (and the next book). For a fantasy story and setting, there is no set up or world building at all. Its also packed with ableism and terrible treatment of people who are depicted with disabilities.

Master of Sorrows could make, with a removal of a lot of the excess writing and some more character building and development, a great book aimed at ten to twelve year olds. I am surprised to see so many high ratings on Goodreads, but I am glad that others have enjoyed it even when I have not. This isn’t a case of “not the book for me” but rather “someone should have edited this better.”

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting! I cherish each and every comment. If you leave me a link to your blog, I will do my best to comment back!