REVIEW by Charity: Master of Crows by Grace Draven (@gracedraven , @plantingmoon)
What would you do to win your freedom?
This is the question that sets bondwoman, Martise of Asher, on a dangerous path. In exchange for her freedom, she bargains with her masters, the mage-priests of Conclave, to spy on the renegade sorcerer, Silhara of Neith. The priests want Martise to expose the sorcerer’s treachery and turn him over to Conclave justice. A risky endeavor, but one she accepts without hesitation–until she falls in love with her intended target.
Silhara of Neith, Master of Crows, is a desperate man. The god called Corruption invades his mind, seducing him with promises of limitless power if he will help it gain dominion over the world. Silhara struggles against Corruption’s influence and searches for ways to destroy the god. When Conclave sends Martise as an apprentice to help him, he knows she’s a spy. Now he fights a war on two fronts–against the god who would possess him and the apprentice who would betray him.
Mage and spy search together for a ritual that will annihilate Corruption, but in doing so, they discover secrets about each other that may damn them both. Silhara must decide if his fate, and the fate of nations, is worth the soul of the woman he has come to love, and Martise must choose continued enslavement or freedom at the cost of a man’s life. And love.
First order of business; I have to gush about the cover art! Best cover art ever! This beautiful piece of work was created by the talented Louisa Gallie. She is a Concept Artist, Illustrator and she also designs e-book covers. And after reading this book, I have to agree with what Ms. Draven wrote in her dedication.
”… an enthusiastic thank you to Louisa Gallie who found the heart of this book and brought it to vivid life…”
That she did! This artist really captured the essence of this book. It’s exactly the way I pictured it. Amazing!
Okay, well, I could ramble on and on about the importance of fantastic cover art. How crucial and sometimes overlooked it can be. But, I won’t bore you with my musings and statistics. Instead, I’ll get right to reviewing the content.
Master of Crows is a Fantasy/Romance that is threaded with darkness, arcane magic and has an antediluvian/medieval vibe
This book seemed more like a romance then fantasy to me. The romance is a slow progression, but once it’s out there it’s all about the lovin’ and the fantasy aspect takes a back seat. For some reason that disappointed me. I was really getting into the fantasy world that Ms. Draven so beautifully created that I sort of forgot this book was categorized as a Romance as well. I would have liked the romance toned down just a little in order to evenly balance with the fantasy.
However, I was not disappointed in the characters. I thought the consistency was there. I know some reviewers scoff at the servant/master role between Martise and Silhara but I have to disagree.
Martise, was raised a slave. Taught to serve in the house of Asher. This is all she knows. That is who she is and we do see her progress slowly out of that role as she discovers her powers. Later on, we see she is treated like a mate and equal.
Silhara, is a brooding loner type who has pushed people away his whole life. Other Mages have feared him and treated him as an outcast. He assumes that role. However, Martise is able to break through that protective wall he has so stubbornly created and thus, drops his guard long enough that we as readers get a chance to see the man Martise has fallen in love with.
Silhara and Martise are the main protagonists is this tale but my heart goes to the supporting character Gurn. Gurn is the man-servant of Silhara, and is mute. I was so impressed with how skillfully Ms. Draven wrote his character. Obviously he has no dialog but his personality shines through the pages with the way she has so artfully scripted his actions and expressions. From a writing stand point, that is truly an impressive feat. I smiled when he smiled and felt frustrated and angry when his character did as well. Gurn’s character was an unexpected surprise and he stole the show for me.
Grace Draven is a wonderful descriptive writer. She sucked me into the land of Neith and I had no trouble at all visualizing all of the layers and subtile details. A talented and promising author that I expect will produce nothing but superior work in the future.
I recommend this book for those of you who love a romance first and a fantasy second. I give Master of Crows 4 stars. A great book for the antiquated romantic at heart.