Master of Sorrows by Justin T. Call
Reviewed by Sam!
**We received an copy of from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. We’d like to thank Justin and Blackstone for the opportunity. This book comes out on Feb 25st and you can get it here or at your local independent bookstore**
What I drank prior: I’m on work travel and I didn’t anticipate being drunk but my client was all “were having tequila shots.” And I was fine with that until they were double shots and then there was wine and I probably should not be drunk rn, ethically, but I am. I really hope I kept it together.
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 . . .
Drunk Overview: so this is magic school. In this world, anyone with literally any deformity, birth defect or post-birth, is considered satan-spawn. Or… their version of that. Our man Annev is one of the best students but he’s got a secret… he was born with half an arm *gasp*. And it’s been hidden by his adoptive dad who’s definitely not a mage. Also magic = bad. We all good here? K? K.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I was really really worried this was gonna be another white-dude fantasy. And while it…was….it also didn’t suck. It didn’t feel repetitive. It felt like a twist on the tale we already know. This is a diverse cast. And while the main character’s disability is “Magic’d away” at first, I promise it gets the resolution it needs. Magic doesn’t overpower disability in this. And that makes me super happy.
Characters: this book has some great character development. It really does. It’s all dudes and the women definitely serve as plot devices but I can’t say that the characters don’t grow. They just grow for really REALLY stupid reasons. I love Annev as a character but like… the whole book surrounds him tryna get it in with this world’s version of a Trump-er so.
100% could use so much more diversity. The end.
Plot: while I had some idea how this was gonna end I had NO CLUE how it was gonna get there and I loved that. I was always on my toes.
At one point they’re going through one of the tests and I kept thinking… this can’t be it, there has to be a catch. And after a while I realized m, that’s what Call wanted me to think. At that point I started thinking back… all of the feelings he wanted me to feel I felt. And it wasnt gake I literally felt them. That’s hard for someone to do these days with a story like this. Well done Justin, well done.
Writing Style: uh… I forget. But if I was compelled enough they it couldn’t totally suck right??
World Building: I thinks the way he explained the world and it’s religion we’re great. They’re not new by any means but it was def a way of ‘telling’ that I didn’t hate. At the beginning of each chapter we’re given some lore and that’s super helpful as we move forward.
What to pair it with: your fave red wine… can vary year to year but in theory it’s the same.
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,