Master of Sorrows is a compelling epic fantasy tale about Annev, a crippled boy in a world where disfigurement means persecution, out of the belief that cripples are servants of a dark god. Hiding his missing hand with aid of a magical prosthetic, Annev is part of a wonderfully imagined magic school. His dream: complete the tests ahead of him and become a magic-hunting avatar.
Comparisons to Hogwarts are to be expected with this premise. However, the author clearly creates a highly unique school-story setting, building both the characters and the world through hugely entertaining training exercises. Almost everyone in this story feels complex and realistic. These characters feel like they have their own lives outside the story, and that's really to the book's benefit.
My main criticism is that the plot-related events of the last half of the book feel a tad disjointed from the first half. That's not to say they're bad, per se. However, it did feel like the first 50% was all 'school story, school story, training exercise, training exercise', and then the tone and direction changed somewhat in the last 50%. My other big criticism was that this book is advertised as the origin story of a villain, fated to become evil. Until the last few pages, I didn't really get that vibe. Even then, if I wasn't aware of this marketing premise, I probably wouldn't know that this is what the series is about. I would've personally appreciated more early foreshadowing of Annev's supposed descent to the dark side.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. While the plotting is a little episodic for my tastes, the characters and the fantastically realised world building shine. I'll certainly be looking out for sequels.
Overall Rating: 4/5.