Blog Archive

View My Stats
Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Master Artificer by Justin T. Call - Review


Official Author Website
Order the book here
Read Caitlin's Review of Master of Sorrows

OFFICIAL AUTHOR WEBSITE: I’ve been making up stories since I was five and writing them down since I was ten. Despite that, I’m sometimes surprised I became a writer. Although my mother was an avid reader in our home and later encouraged my writing, she and my father rarely read bedtime stories to me or my sisters. I loathed learning to read the Dick and Jane books as a child, and I had no interest in reading anything without pictures till I was eleven. Fortunately, there were other factors that led to my eventual love of writing.

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 . . . 

FORMAT/INFO: Master Artificer was published on May 18th, 2021 in the US by Blackstone Publishing. It is 866 pages split over 94 chapters and an epilogue. It is told in third person from the POV of multiple characters, including Annev, Myjun, Fyn, and Kenton. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats.

 The town of Chaenbalu has fallen – and it’s kind of Annev’s fault. Confronted about his secret magical abilities, he lashed out with a power he barely understood, and dozens died in the process, both foe and innocent alike. With nothing but ruins left, Annev is leaving his home with his few remaining friends. Annev hopes to find a way to remove the power he’s been cursed with, but that will require finding someone with magic far more advanced than his meager knowledge. But with Annev the center of many prophecies, sorting who wants to help him and who hopes to manipulate him is no easy feat. And unbeknownst to Annev, new enemies are rising in the wake of his destructive actions, setting off a chain of events that will sweep across the entire continent.

Master Artificer is a slowly sprawling epic fantasy story that rewards those who make it through a slightly rough beginning. Like its predecessor Master of Sorrows, Master Artificer's biggest weakness is that the story requires a significant amount of exposition and info dumping. Although we’re in book two, Annev and his friends have led an incredibly sheltered life and know little about the outside world, or about magic. This results in the more worldly adults explaining everything from the many, many kinds of magic users in the world to politics to the existence of slavery (which the boys were blissfully unaware of). The result is that for the first few hundred pages, it felt like the majority of dialogue was explaining the more expansive world the reader was entering. The plot moved slowly and there was little to no character development in the beginning.

Once you get past the first third of the book, however, things begin to smooth out. That’s in part because where the author excels is writing action, and there’s plenty of that to go around. There are some fairly tense sequences that elevated the stakes and kept me much more engaged. It also helped once I realized the larger purpose of this book in the series as a whole: the slow fracturing of the plot as various people split up and pursue different paths. Master of Sorrows was largely, if not entirely told from Annev’s POV (I might be wrong, my memories on that point are fuzzy); Master Artificer takes on several new POVs as the ramifications of Annev’s actions, both in the last book and in this one, are felt. It’s the classic fantasy trope of what was once one group slowly getting tossed across the lands by the winds of fate, and very much about setting up pieces on the board.

The different groups had varying levels of success in engaging me. I found myself loving Fyn’s story, but that may be because I’m a sucker for criminal underworld stories. Fyn breaks off from the main group early on to strike his own path. While at first I was confused by this random trajectory, it eventually weaves itself into the bigger picture, and sets up some interesting clashes in the next book. Likewise, I liked the growth I saw in Therin and Titus, and how their role in the plot evolved. Myjun on the other hand, with her fairly one note determination for revenge, didn’t do a whole lot for me as a character.

Annev unsurprisingly goes through the biggest character arc, though it doesn’t really kick in until the last third of the book. Master of Sorrows was marked by the tragedy of Annev’s indecisions; he tried to have everything and ended up losing most of it because he refused to pick a path in life. This time, he’s starting to be more decisive and realizing that if he wants things to happen, he’ll have to do it himself. But Annev also comes to some…interesting decisions regarding lines and when they’re okay to cross. It comes to a head in a surprisingly quick but critical finale that leaves Annev forever changed.

I had one other major complaint about Master Artificer, and that was that several people come into magical powers and have them pretty well figured out in days, if not hours. While I understand many of these characters had an innate talent they were unaware of, it felt far too easy for them to go from “Magic is evil,” to “I’ve mastered powers it takes others years to learn.”

CONCLUSION: The Silent Gods series is one where you’re either all in, or you bounce off hard during the initial entry. It unfortunately requires a steep tolerance for exposition before the story truly gets moving, which is a shame because there are some great ideas and world-building in here. Both Master Artificer and Master of Sorrows had me much more hooked in the back half of the book, but that means getting through a few hundred pages where a reader could easily lose interest. For those with patience, Master Artificer is a rewarding read with action and magic aplenty, and some high stakes set up for the next installment.



Click Here To Order “Cardinal Black” by Robert McCammon!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Cyber Mage” by Saad Z. Hossain
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Miss  Percy's” by Quenby Olson!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The True Bastards” by Jonathan French!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “Rumble In Woodhollow” by Jonathan Pembroke!!!
Order HERE


Click Here To Order “The Starless Crown” by James Rollins!!!
Order HERE