Master of Crows by Grace Draven

6811150What 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. – Goodreads

So, as you may know, I’m kind of on a Draven kick right now after finishing Radiance. And let me tell you, she didn’t let me down with this one.

First off, let me get my nitpicks out of the way so we can focus on the good. The good definitely outweighs the bad.

The first 15-25% is very slow, and threw a ton of worldbuilding jargon at the reader. The first chapter had me so damn confused, I felt like I’d been plopped in the middle of the book. Who the hell was Corruption and who the hell was this man talking to it? Was he possessed? WTF. No lead up, just boom, right in the middle. It was jarring. Then Martise came into the picture, and I had a brief, “Shit, Stockholm Syndrome,” moment for about 15% of the book. It took way too long for me to get sucked in, but once I did…

It was great. The characters are complex and deep, though I would have liked to see more from Martise. I really enjoyed their weird little angsty romance, especially after the angst-free romance from Radiance. The side characters were fantastic, too. Once I had the worldbuilding under control and understood it, I did appreciate how it all came together. It was just a little rough getting there.

Draven writes beautifully, and I love how effortlessly the conversation and wit flows. I found myself laughing out loud in some parts, which is refreshing.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Draven’s work to those who enjoy fantasy and romance. I rated Master of Crows 4/5 on Goodreads.

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