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A Review A REVIEWS Fantasy Romance Review

Review: Master of Crows by Grace Draven

Publisher: Amber Quill

Where did you get it: E-arc from author

Release date: Out now

Blurb taken from Goodreads

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…

Every once in a while a book comes along that pleasantly surprises you, and surpasses your expectations. Master of Crows by Grace Draven was certainly that. I ‘heart’ this book so much and its characters  that it’s definitely in the top ten books I have read this year.

Martise of Asher is a slave and is asked to spy whilst she is loaned to the rebel mage Silhara, the Master of Crows. She is to work as an assistant to help with his quest to defeat the God Corruption, who is gaining more influence in their world. Her master and owner, the mage, Cumbria along with his cabal of mages, who fears and loathes Silhara.  They hope Martise can discover Silhara’s weakness to which they can use to  defeat him. But their plans crumble when Martise – who has the chance to win her freedom – finds out that there is more to Silhara than his reputation has suggested, and she develops feelings for the sardonic and cynical mage.

I have to start with how awesome, memorable and well developed Silhara is. Seriously!  I think he is one of the best heroes I have read about in quite some time, and  I am a huge fan of dark anti-heroes especially if they do push boundaries. And Silhara definitely does push them but doesn’t cross that line of being a right out unlikable bastard.

Silhara is not a happy bunny when he is faced with the choice of Martise as an assistant who has  previously not shown any ability to practice magic,  and  he wonders at the motive  on why the conclave and Cumbria had sent her. However, she was tested for being positive for the Gift so Silhara tests her repeatedly to coax out her gift. I loved how she remained steadfast and calm despite the fact that these tests were increasingly getting  dangerous and pushed her to the limit whilst knowing that Silhara is dubious and suspicious about her motives.

Martise’s character was a great foil and a strength to Silhara, and I loved how she wins him over with her calm resolve and quiet stubbornness. Their exchanges are funny and witty and helped to build on the burgeoning attraction and tension between them.

The layers that were unveiled within the characterisation showed different facets of the characters. Not only do we get to see Silhara’s motivations and torn feelings about Martise and his desire to defeat Corruption, but also the danger of being seduced by him and there was times in the book  that I felt he could have become lost into that dark side. But I LOVED that his saving grace was Martise, who soon becomes his life-line and that became a core focus for the romance. It really added emotional depth and layered the romance with a quiet intensity which I think is that special X factor for successful romances.

I did find the world-building and setting a bit less developed in the beginning, and it took a couple of pages to get the gist of the story. I wished it was expanded a bit more because I did initially found it confusing. But I was soon sucked in and as the story progressed, the world and setting was explored more fully, and I loved how darkly imaginative it is. Such as the Kurman nomads who help out Silhara, to the creepy soul sucking lich’s Keep and conclaves of arrogant mages.

Master of Crows is a wonderful, dark and vivid fantasy romance with one of the best anti-heroes I have read about in a long time. It has well fleshed out and rich characterisation, but at its core there is a lot of heart and soul in the story that is the hero and heroine that becomes a rich and memorable romance. I especially loved how Silhara and Martise’s vulnerabilities turned into their strengths and how that added more richness to the story.

If you are a fan of Anne Bishop, Patricia Briggs, and Lois McMaster Bujoid, then you will love this heartwarming and memorable fantasy romance! I am planning on glomming on the rest of the backlist from Grace Draven because with this book she has certainly made me a fan!

I give Master of Crows an  A

Note: Below is a piece of that is artwork linked to the book by Lousia Gallie, which really sums up the tone and feel of the book perfectly.

By Has

Has is a voracious reader and a geek at heart! She is a fan of most sub-genres of romance and fantasy, but especially loves fantasy and some sci fi. She's currently looking out for historical romances with unusual settings, and fantasy romance, in the vein of Anne Bishop and Elizabeth Vaughan who are on her list of favourite authors. She's also a fan of authors such as Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, Lisa Kleypas and Nalini Singh. She is always on the look out for new authors and loves the feeling of discovering a brand new author and books she loves.

5 replies on “Review: Master of Crows by Grace Draven”

I LOVED this book. When you first recc’d it to me I was thinking it sounds like something I would like and when I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. One of the best reads I’ve had in 2010. I should know by now to trust your instincts!

This is a great review that really gives a lot of reasons why this was an amazing book without spoiling what I thought was an incredibly clever story. A story that kept me guessing right to the end.

I’ll be picking up Draven’s backlist and looking forward to her future books!

[…] For Crown and Kingdom is a duology, two separate works of fantasy romance. I read the first entry in the pair, The Crown of the Queen, not long ago, and absolutely loved it. Last night, I read The Undying King by Grace Draven, and loved it almost as much. This is the first time I’ve read something by this author, and now I understand why my friends at The Book Pushers love her Master of Crows so much. […]

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