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The Shadow Master (Shadow Master #1)

3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  78 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,041)
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Dan Schwent
When his brother is killed, Cosimo de Medici declares war on the Lorraines. Too bad a close associate of the Medici family, Lorenzo, protege to Galileo, is in love with Lucia, daughter of Duke Lorraine...

I got this from Angry Robot via Netgalley.

In an alternate world resembling 16th century Italy, a plague has ravaged the world and much of humanity takes refuge in the Walled City where the Medicis and the Lorraines vie for superiority. The Medicis have Galileo and the Lorraines have Leonardo.

Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
You would think that a book that starts off with a character saying "Tar my bung hole and use me for a keg!" would be epic. The beginning of this book is. There is a plague that is hitting the countryside and everyone is dying. Inside the walls of this kingdom though the scientist/apothecarists have discoved some spices that can be brewed as tea that staves off the plague. Two main families control that trade. Enter Romeo/Juliet type scenario.
The first 45% of this book was just so fun. There was
Mogsy (MMOGC)
2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I wish I could write a more positive review for this book, I really do. The Shadow Master has so much going for it, including a setting resembling an alternate-history Renaissance Italy, with just a touch of that steampunk flavor with its clockwork inventions and automatons. We also mustn’t forget the biggie for me – a plot thread about a pair of star-crossed lovers separated by the warring between their families. I do g
Ash Wednesday
”Think of it as a matter of wife or death,” the stranger said.
“What?” asked Lorenzo.
The stranger sighed. “It is a play on words. You were meant to laugh. To lighten the gravity of the moment.” he said.
“I don’t understand,” said Lorenzo.

I second that notion.

Ah this book. I have half the mind to slap this an outright 1-star rating out of sheer disappointment over the wasted potential. For a while there, this had me going with explosively glorious expectations of ***Zombies! Mechas! Zomb
**Thank you Angry Robot and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

4.5 Stars

This is a fantasy retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Instead of the Capulets and Montagues we have the Hose of Medici and the House of Lorraine. The families have been fighting each other over the Spice trade in the Walled City. Whoever controls the Spice trade will be the most powerful family in the city. It the precious Spiced Wine that keeps the Plague at bay. No one knows how far the plague has sp
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews:

The publisher Angry Robot has a tendency to publish books that are so strange that they do not fit into any genre or preconceived notion of the boundaries of literature, and The Shadow Master is one of their strangest novels yet.
This book leads the reader on a surreal journey through a world that seems to be an alternate reality version of Renaissance Italy. The plot is an unexpected retelling of the story of
I think it may be more like 2.5 stars for me.

Full review:

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick was a different read for me. It is a bit steam punk (Prepare yourself for a plethora of devices consisting of cogs! Everything and anything can be made, if you just have some cogs and a bit of wire) with some humor thrown in, and a central romance of star crossed lovers. The central premise of the story is interesting. The land has been ravaged by plague, with no o
2.5 Stars

Loved the world building- think the concept is an amazing idea.. but somehow this just didn't work for me.
Initially when I started this, I was totally blown away by it. The idea behind the world building? Genius.
The parallels between history and Shakespear's works linked with the imaginative fantasy aspect? Just mindblowing.
And then.... I found myself struggling through it.
I thought it's just my mood, so I set it aside. And read a couple of different books inbetween. Picked it up again.
A good premise but the ending is a little confusing. The first half of the book strongly reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, but with two different feuding families and a historical scientist in each corner. Both camps have pretty cool supernatural machines. Then a few interesting characters (an aging musketeer and a cult leader) are introduced. But just as the story pulled me in, I fell down the rabbit hole. The last part of the novel has lots of potential but the reader needs to have a clearer ide ...more
TL;DR Version:

 photo ezio_zps8mvnnmhg.gif

How do I rate this? Ezio didn't die so this book could live. OMG.

More reviews @ The BiblioSanctum

Long Version:

First of all, when I first started thinking about what I was going to rate this book, this was pretty much my reaction when I was trying to decide for this because, again, I don't even know, man:

 photo shrug 1_zpsk9msnfnb.gif

I mean, this wasn't written badly, but there was just so much absurdity with flashes of brilliance that I wasn't really sure what to even make of this book. And my God, the millio
Althea Ann
In an alternate Renaissance (one that’s not so re-birth-y), one city holds out against the hordes of desperate plague victims outside its walls. Within, two families vie for power – each employing a rival scientist. Leonardo and Galileo put their minds and science (which looks a lot like magic) to work on holding back the dread plague, and inventing gadgets. So far, both have refused to create weapons of war. The balance of power is delicate, the remedies that hold back the disease are losing ef ...more
If I were to narrate my progess in parts while reading this book, it will be like assessing my mental state: introduction - bored (really really bored), 30% into the story - curious (the Shadow Master has finally come! Ooops, spoiler), 55% - interested (when erotica is concerned), 75% (rising action) - stoic, ending - whatever. There's some sort of a plot twist in the end and I'm not even the least bit affected. It's like Dark City meets Fight Club minus the awe. There are no moments of ooohs an ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I got an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Text is liable to change in parts upon publishing.]

I'll admit I'm not quite sure yet what to make of this book, so for once, I'm going to make up my mind as I write my review.

The story's set in an alternate Renaissance setting, in which the Medici and Lorraine families compete within the Walled City for the monopoly on a spice able to keep the plague out. While in other parts of the country, plague-infected peo
It's like if Assassin's Creed: Renaissance & Romeo and Juliet had a baby.

It felt like Renaissance steampunk, if that's even a thing.

Honestly, I liked this book but could only give it a 2 star rating. Maybe, 2.5? I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. I enjoyed some aspects of the book, but overall it was just okay.

The whole story was confusing, especially the true identities of most of the characters. I kept thinking that the prodigious details would eventually weave into an e
(Full review here:

The stage is set for a complex story with plenty of potential for some epic events! Unfortunately, most of the things that did interest me as I read this book happened rather randomly and appear out of nowhere. Few explanations and little follow-up did a lot to turn things from “very interesting” to “a jumbled mess.”

Still, there is a good amount of potential within The Shadow Master, and since this is only the first book of a series, I
I would like to thank NetGalley & Angry Robot for granting me the opportunity to read this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. I give this book 2.5 stars, but in systems that only allow whole numbers I'm not comfortable rounding up, so it will get 2 stars.

In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Gal
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
- William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet, Prologue

The cover copy for The Shadow Master called to mind Shakespeare’s prologue to Romeo and Juliet, quoted partially above, immediately and with the invocation of the names of the Medicis, the Lorraines
Chelsea Herondale
ACTUAL RATING: 2.5 stars

( I received this arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick, is a fantasy re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. However, as cool as that sounds, I was not aware of this until someone, who had previously read the book, pointed it out. Which proves that this aspect of the book could have been described a lot better.
I was also not completely satisfied with the characters and setting. I was constantly getting confused and had to re-read
Paul Decker
**I was provided an edvanced ecopy of this book by ANGRY ROBOT via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I like the ambiguity that goes along with the worldbuilding in The Shadow Master. Is it really an alternate history? Or is it somehow a future world rebuilding the past? When a book brings forth so many questions in the reader's mind, it is either super frustrating or awe inspiring. This book is the latter. I wanted to know so much more than was on the page.

The second half of this book
I loved the setting of this, and the writing was top notch, that being said, after a great start it loses me midway through. But in my eyes, the writing and setting saves it so I only dock it one star.

Recommended read, (yes, there will be several shorter type reviews than usual, I may lose my net for a week or so, I am kind of clearing the queue so to speak)
That was not the book I expected after reading the description.

There was too much romance for me. The story did not captivate me. There was not even one character I liked.
There have been some scenes I liked.
I read the whole always hoping for something good. There have been some scenes I liked. Without them I would not have finished the book.

It seems this has been a meeting of the wrong book and the right reader or vice versa.

In the end it is up to you to decide if you like the book or not.
2.5 stars

Being inside the Walled City people are safe from the plague. They are pretty much in lockdown and the way they get supplies is from other countries over the sea. In this city are two powerful families who are at war with each other. On the one hand we have the Medici and they have Leonardo at their side. The other family is the Lorraines, with Galileo. Both inventors are brilliant and help their master get the upperhand, without actually making war machines.

Now the Lorraines have a bea
Lynn Williams
2.5 rating

Just finished reading The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick. I must confess that I've come away from this book feeling utterly puzzled. And not really in a positive way to be honest! However, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

This book has got such a great premise. Set in an alternative Italy, historical in nature and revolving around two families at war and a pair of star crossed lovers - sound familiar at all? Yes, the main pair are clearly based o

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar

The Shadow Master was interesting. Sometimes, science and magic are the same thing, but other times they are not.

As you can see in the summary, The Shadow Master is a representation of Romeo and Juliet. But in The Shadow Master, Craig Cormick gives a new spin to the tale where the love of Lorenzo and Lucia is more powerful than the love that Romeo and Juliet had. There is more to the fight for between the Medici and the L
Wow - what a ride. I started reading this and just couldn't stop. The fact the chapters are pretty small helped, but as the book started getting more and more complex I realised it wasn't the quick read I first thought it would be - there is LOT of things going on under the surface (just like in the story) and if you think it's your standard fantasy-action book then you're probably going to get lost as the book picks up pace. Probably not for everybody, but I found it a really, really great read ...more
Caleb Hill
“Never enter into a battle that you have not already won.”

There is a war between the two great Houses of the Walled City. The wealthy Medici’s fight for control of the spice trade against the Duke and his family, the Lorraines. Lines are drawn in the populace by a simple glance at your facial hair. Helping further their patrons, Galileo Galilei and Leonardo Da Vinci perform a battle of wits, creating technologies that function like magic. And caught between the two are the star-crossed lovers Lo
originally posted at:

When I was presented with a list of books that Angry Robot was publishing, I was immediately drawn by the cover of the book, doesn't that catch everyone's appeal? Reading the synopsis of The Shadow Master completely won me over, I like reading historical fantasy, especially set in the era of two of the greatest scientists ever. Leonardo and Galileo. add to this a plot line of assasinations and two warring families, what more do you wa
Fantasy Literature
My low rating of this book reflects my disappointment in the gap between this concept and the execution, especially in the world-building. I also must say that many people on Goodreads loved The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick. Perhaps I’m just not the right reader for this book.

At first glance the book appears to be set in an alternate 15th century Italy with two warring families. There are the star-crossed lovers, Lucia and Lorenzo; each one an orphan, each one taken in by one of the feuding fa
Tina Zz
4.5 out of 5 for me. Loved the book. Romance with the Romeo and Juliet thing happening. Sword fights. Mad clerics. Magic. Intrigues. And all set in Renaissance Florence (I guess).
I also loved the basic premise of science being magic - with Gallileo and da Vinci being the necromancers in the story. I was surprised to find it both funny and moving in places - which you don't normally expect to get together.
I must admit that I was a bit confused when I realised that the author was not going to re
I'm not really sure what to say about this one. It had some great elements - I loved the 'science' and steampunk meld, and the intrigues. Unfortunately intrigues layered upon schemes layered upon secrets and it was hard to really follow the story. I have no idea what happened at the end, and while there's going to be a sequel, I'm not sure how the two will tie together (i.e. whether or not answers are forthcoming).

Read this one if you're a huge fan of alt. history / renaissance Italy / romeo and
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Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Shadow Master (2 books)
  • The Floating City (Shadow Master #2)

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“Well done, Lorenzo,” he said, “You were as cool and brave as a… as a …” He looked up the ceiling and walls around him as if searching for a word that had just been there before him and was now escaping up there out of sight. Finally he said, “As cool and brave as something that was both cool and brave.” He reached out one arm and punched Lorenzo’s shoulder, and said, “God, I hate it when metaphors evade me.” 2 likes
“You can call me Virgil,” he said. “Is that your real name?” “No. But I think you’d prefer that to calling me Beatrice.” “I don’t understand half the things you say,” said Lorenzo. “But that means you do understand about half, which puts you up near the top of the ladder.” 1 likes
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