master of sorrows

4 stars

This is the first book in The Silent Gods YA Fantasy series. It is intriguing, fast-paced, dark, and complicated. Everything I love about an epic fantasy series.

Set in a training Academy for young boys and girls, Annev de Breth is a 17 year old boy training to become an avatar, a warrior sect of thieves that steal magical objects and “protects” the world from their “dangerous” nature by locking them up in their compound. Magic is illegal and all those deemed to have it are killed. In addition, anyone with a physical deformity is considered to be a child of an evil god named Keos, and are stoned to death by their village.

Annev was raised by a priest who mentors him in both history and fighting skills. He also protects Annev’s dangerous secret – he has a physical deformity that would get him killed if discovered. When Annev is on the brink of losing the final test to become an avatar, he is faced with a difficult choice. Turn his back on his friends and the priest who is a father figure and mentor, or forego his dream of becoming an avatar.

The world-building in the book is pretty good, especially for a YA fantasy. Most aspects of daily life are ruled by religion – in this case, the three “Silent Gods”. The story of the gods is told in the form of bible teachings, and explains why society was formed the way it was. As with any religion, there always has to be a villain. In this story, that villain is the god Keos. Anyone that worships Keos or carries his attributes is deemed evil.

Annev’s character development was interesting to read, as was the development of several of the minor characters. Annev’s relationship with his mentor Sodar was wonderful to read. The author captured Annev’s respect, love, frustration and teenage petulance perfectly. Annev is confidant and cunning, without appearing too arrogant. His foil, Fyn, is the typical brutish bully. Fyn’s development is a bit choppy at times, but I understand why the author had to write it the way he did.

The story moved along at a fast pace. There was something about the writing that made me tense and nervous at times – which is a good thing. It meant I didn’t know what was going to happen next, and I loved being a bit unnerved. While most YA Fantasy books are fun to read, the authors typically don’t delve too deep into world or character building, but that is not the case here. It takes effort by the reader to follow the history of the gods, how it all fits into the story of the training at the Academy, and events unfolding in Annev’s life. But that is what makes the story so good. The first book in any good fantasy series is required to dump a lot of background information to set up the rest of the series. Oftentimes these can be a chore to slog through, but that isn’t the case here.

Overall, this is an enjoyable first book in what is sure to be a thrilling fantasy book series. I highly recommend you read it. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.