Master of Sorrows by Justin T. Call
Master of Sorrows is the first book of The Silent Gods series by Justin T. Call and everyone this is a hell of a debut.
Annev was born without a left hand which, to the loud majority, marked him as a ‘Son of Keos’, a vile representation of a fallen god and something to be killed at birth. Fortunately our protagonist avoids this fate and our first real look at the character sees him a sixteen year old Acolyte of the Church, giddy with love, exploring his identity, stressed about the impending final exams that will see him promoted or relegated to life as a steward and quite a bit more. The events of the book take place over the course of four or five days which means it’s a different sort of book. Whilst it could qualify as a slow build, all the events take place over the course of four or five days so it’s not really slow it’s in depth and detailed. The worldbuilding is in the everyday slices of life moments used to add layers of complexity and richness to the story and allow characters brief moments of interaction and introspection that would otherwise occur over the course of a long journey spanning months of time. Henry Cooke said “Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans” and Call creates many moments where this is shown to be true. The side characters are intriguing and well fleshed and the developments in their relationships with each other and Annev felt realistic especially given the limitations of imposing too many ‘big events’ within a short duration of time. At the end of the day everything just flows beautifully making Master of Sorrows a tough one to put down and an easy one to finish.
Something I think worth mentioning is that this is not just an excellent read for people who enjoy fantasy on a regular basis but it is also a brilliant entry point for readers new to the genre. The magic system is accessible and so far revolves mostly around powered artifacts, the characters are relatable and flawed and the the story itself is interesting and original. All up I thoroughly loved Master of Sorrows and found it to be captivating and entertaining from start to finish. It also sports one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever seen.
I highly recommend jumping into this adventure especially given the 2nd book in the series, Master Artificer, is due for release in May 2021.