The fabulous sequel to 2019’s hit debut novel: Master of Sorrows.
Annev has avoided one fate. But a darker path may still claim him . . .
After surviving the destruction of Chaenbalu, new mysteries and greater threats await Annev and his friends in the capital city of Luqura. As they navigate the city’s perilous streets, Annev searches for a way to control his nascent magic and remove the cursed artifact now fused to his body.
But what might removing it cost him?
As Annev grapples with his magic, Fyn joins forces with old enemies and new allies, waging a secret war against Luqura’s corrupt guilds in the hopes of forging his own criminal empire. Deep in the Brakewood, Myjun is learning new skills of her own as apprentice to Oyru, the shadow assassin who attacked the village of Chaenbalu – but the power of revenge comes at a daunting price. And back in Chaenbalu itself, left for dead in the Academy’s ruins, Kenton seeks salvation in the only place he can: the power hoarded in the Vault of Damnation . . .
This review contains minor/major spoilers and are not intentional. Thank you to Will O Mullane at Gollancz for providing me a review. All thoughts are mine.
This is a masterpiece forged in the mountain of Kale. This is a huge sprawling epic that I would not be able to summarize within an entire review, it is that good. Somewhere I just wonder that this entire journey, this entire story is nothing more than Keos himself writing his own story. It was Keos that was cast from the Heavens, Keos that created goblins and un-natural creatures and for that he was deemed unworthy. Everyone swears that infernal God’s name in this book because Annev slowly begins to realize that the world of good is no longer becoming good. All the adults that he looks up to in this novel to aid him become in the end just that: villains. Many people claiming to help Annev are revealed to be some obscure servents of Gods or maybe Keos himself because Annev wears the golden hand of that God. And sometimes, it makes me wonder. What does Keos get out of all this at the end? He may be silent, but he is no fool. Keos is a master manipulator.
And this novel very clearly explains how people who are good-natured can turn into evil. Annev’s whole journey is like a parallel to this. Let’s not forget however, that Kenton is swearing revenge against him, for what obscure reason I am not particularly impressed with. Kenton was in love with Myjun, but did she ever return his affections so favorably once he was scarred? Myjun learns with her mentor, Oyru, and she discovers truths that are far more shocking when you read this story. I urge you, to read ALL the lore of this book. All the special manuscripts, the notes, every single thing. It makes sense as you read and as you discover along, you find so many secrets. I also was the type of reader going, ahhh and oooh and dammn. Writing a fantasy epic like this over 800 pages, keeping atop of all the orders, the names, the characters, this is no work that is rushed, but it shows a lot of hard work and dedication. I want to have this type of dedication. I can see why it took a year, it’s good! Really good. But a novel of this scale would have been proof-read, redrafted, edited many many times. I would take this into consideration. You have to read book 1 in order to understand the events of book 2.
I was not impressed with the way Annev made his decisions sometimes. In the novel, Annev, Titus, and Therin make their way to the Dionarchs. All I can say about the Dionarchs is that they are far worse than what Tosan and the Academy at Chalenbeau were. They are a bunch of self-hypocritical arsehole immortal beings with no sense of direction but to awake the silence of the Gods. And Reeve, who shall we say, is the leader of that presumed order, wants to use Annev as a tool. And this is where it goes worse. Annev is intelligent and realises when he is being used, but sometimes when he turned evil, I completely disagreed with what he was doing, and there were certain acts that he did that seemed a bit off-paced. I’d have gone with some different choices to show how he transitions to that type of villain. Many times you will see him doubt, you will see him worry, and you will not like what he is becoming. I was still satisifed with the fact that he can still retain and control his thoughts. But this is all Keos’s doing. Never mind all the damn Gods in this world, Keos is like the Loki of this world. Hidden but never seen, he is not present no. But he is there. In every step of the way.
That said, I am glad that most of the characters got their own time to shine as well: Therin and Titus got their own time, and they really are fun to read. I do wish they’d find some proper girlfriends, because they need it. And we got to see Crag, but I want MORE of him. He’s a fun character. Fyn and his gang of Ashes crew were brilliant, and I loved Fyn begin to mature, to question his previous behavior, and to also fall in love! I loved Sodja, and the entire story that is crafted around her. I didn’t enjoy Myjun at all, because I don’t agree with what she’s doing and her prejudices, but I respect what she seeks to find out, but she should have been an Assassin from the start. What was the point of her being raised by her father if she was nothing more than turning out to be someone who does horrible actions? While I can see why the morality of this world goes awry, I would ask that at least some morality, some sense is established. Because it seems to me, the Gods of this world are more evil than anything else. All fighting each other, all doing away with each other. If I was a character I would rage and start my own religion and be free from all this chaos. This world is chaos. Slavery, thievery, all of it! This is not a fun world to be in, and it makes me sad. I want to see the characters at least get a small measure of peace.
Oh, and I thought I would never enjoy Elder Tosan again. He is such a brilliant villain that I want to see more of him. I really miss Sodar, and I want him to come back. Sodar has to stop Annev, because he is the only sensible father-figure that can stop Annev from becoming too evil. The story is excellent, it is large, and it is huge. There’s a lot of lore as well. There’s gore and brutality as well, there’s love, loss, hope and misery. I didn’t like Annev becoming jealous of his friends, Therin and Titus when they stood up for him against Fyn and Kenton. Sometimes I wonder if Annev quietly contemplates using his powers to travel back into the past and change it. Would he prevent all that had happened?
This story is amazing, the worldbuilding is fantastic, the writing, description and prose is great. I really enjoyed this. 10/10 from me!