Straight from the start you get the feel that this story is a unique story that separates itself from anything else you've ever read. We follow the main character, Annev De Breth, as he tries to fulfil his dream of becoming an avatar at the academy of Chaenbalu. Trained in the art of combat and detection of magical artefacts, these boys are pushed to their absolute limits on a daily basis ready for the assessment day. If you're successful you become an avatar, if you fail, you become a steward which is basically a slave with minor luxuries. So no pressure. Annev lives with the village priest, Sodar. The only other person who knows Annev's secret. He wears a magical prosthetic arm. According to the laws of Chaenbalu, this is something that will get him killed if anyone else finds out.
The whole School/Academy idea for me was what had me fixated. It kind of reminded me of a shaolin monk school with a magic twist to it. Annev and his two friends also have to deal with the school bullies. This fits perfectly into the story and adds to a lot of the action early on. I found myself cheering when Annev got one over on them and actually got pissed off when they got one over on Annev. When the assessment day comes around I was literally sat on the end of my sofa and reading each page with monstrous speed. It was really intense and I loved the idea behind it.
The world building was another huge part for me. Despite it being a pretty big world, we spend most of our time in Chaenbalu. This isn't a bad thing. There is so much action going on in Chaenbalu that it never crossed my mind that we hadn't stepped outside of the village until we actually did, which doesn't happen until at least 3/4 of the way through. I wont go into too much detail for fear of giving spoilers away but, this is the section where we get to see more of the magic artefacts and lots of fighting, which was really cool.
There are four parts to this book and at the start of each is a section from the Book of Terra. It's basically information about what happened with the three main Gods. Usually in books this can be boring and sometimes has nothing to do with the main story, but I found it really interesting and there would also be parts in the book where you would think back to certain sections and it all starts to make sense. I thought this bit of history was a great addition that gelled well with the main story.
This was the perfect book to read after hitting a bit of a reading slump with the last two books. I loved everything about it from start to finish! Master of sorrows is one of those books that I'll be recommending at every opportunity and I cannot wait for the next book!
I would like to thank Gollancz and Justin Call for the opportunity to read and review Master of sorrows. It's been one hell of a journey.