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Master of Sorrows

(The Silent Gods #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  205 reviews
You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?

What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published February 21st 2019 by Gollancz
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Justin Call Blackstone Publishing will release Master of Sorrows in North America in February of 2020 (Gollancz/Orion UK has English rights for the rest of the…moreBlackstone Publishing will release Master of Sorrows in North America in February of 2020 (Gollancz/Orion UK has English rights for the rest of the world except North America).

However, it is possible to get the hard copy version of the UK edition by either ordering through Book Depository (free international shipping) or by visiting and paying for shipping to the US. Here is a link to the former:

If you are hoping for a digital US release (ebook or audiobook), you will still need to wait until the book comes out next spring.

Justin Call That depends what you define as romance. In the first book, for example, there is a romantic relationship, <spoiler>but it's not a true romance.…moreThat depends what you define as romance. In the first book, for example, there is a romantic relationship, <spoiler>but it's not a true romance. It's an opportunity for character growth and a chance to see two naive characters evolve beyond their imagined dependence on one another.</spoiler>

Within the series itself, though, characters frequently fall in and out of love, sometimes within the same book. Some relationships stick. Some don't. Some become complicated to the point that it becomes hard to define whether people are romantic interests or not. There are love triangles, hate triangles, and a variety of other intersecting lines. Despite all of those complications, there are still characters who I "ship" together, and the focus of their relationships (romantic and otherwise) is integral to their character arcs. Whether or not you define that as romance is up to the reader, I suppose, but I like to think that, yes, there are threads of romance in the series – though some are weak and some are strong.

But if you define romance as sex scenes, then I would probably say no, there are no descriptions of sex in the series (though, as in life, some characters may have sex "off-screen" and some characters may talk about sex using lewd or suggestive language). I don't consider that "romance," though, so for the purpose of your question, I'll refer to my previous answer.(less)

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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This is a very strong dark fantasy debut that will appeal directly to fans of The Poppy War and The Name of the Wind. It’s intense, mystical and brutal.

The novel is Asian inspired, depicting a fighting academy that has an eastern quality to it. The masters who rule their and teach their ways despise the use of magic and hoard it in their secret vault to protect the world from its effects. They hunt and kill magic users and will gladly slay an infant at birth if they bare the taint of magic.
James Lafayette Tivendale
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received an uncorrected proof copy of Master of Sorrows in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Justin Call and Gollancz.

The narrative begins as we are introduced to the 17-year-old acolyte Annev. He is aiming to progress to the desired status of an Avatar of Judgement in this educational environment. The atmosphere he lives within, the classes he frequents and seminars he attends are to help him achieve this, whilst also being aided by the influence of his guardian Sodar and a varied
TS Chan
ARC received from the publisher, Gollancz, in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars.

Master of Sorrows was a remarkable debut which I simply cannot put down.

This book recalled so much about what I loved about classic epic fantasy and yet felt modern. The author has quoted David Eddings as his earliest favourite. Having read and loved Eddings' works myself, I can definitely see the influences from The Belgariad in this book; a prophecy, Gods and a coming-of-age tale of a young man destined for
Nov 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
I need to get myself a copy of this because I have a good feeling about it and the synopsis sounds awesome :3

Nils | nilsreviewsit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mary S. R.
Dec 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: adult, dark, fantasy
You have heard the story before—of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world.

But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?

Um, THANK YOU???? The hero that could be the villain and the villain that could be the hero is what I need in every. single. book.

Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot can happen in a few days. Just ask Ainnevog (just call him Annev), a deacon acolyte in the tiny, remote village of Chaenbalu. One minute, Annev is juggling duties at the Church with his mentor while training for his final shot at passing the grueling Avatar test. The next minute, he discovers he’s being hunted by a fallen evil god bent on destroying his entire bloodline. Annev learns that he is doomed to stay hidden in his village or he and everyone he knows will be annihilated. And if he ...more
Dannii Elle
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

The synopsis begun thus:

"You have heard the story before - of a young boy, orphaned through tragic circumstances, raised by a wise old man, who comes to a fuller knowledge of his magic and uses it to fight the great evil that threatens his world."

But from the very first page I knew this was a book unlike any other I had encountered before.

Many elements remained that are a prerequisite for what I consider a stellar fantasy novel - a complex magic system, a fantastical
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I need to gather my thoughts to review this.
Hiu Gregg
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
I’ve had my eye on Master of Sorrows for quite a while. The whole concept of a hero destined to become the villain, and the struggle of fighting against that “destiny”… that’s the sort of thing that speaks to me.

But y’know, for a book about a boy destined to become The Great Evil, this is a remarkably relaxing read. There’s a lot of stuff in here that feels familiar, as though it’s pulling from or influenced by classic epic fantasies. And yet it feels fresh. It’s just familiar enough to get you
Mike Everest Evans
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full review originally posted on

The Good: Destiny and dark magic, a fresh take on time-honoured tropes, a world brimming with history, belief and ideals, action sequences that dare to be different, and a plot filled with secrets and surprises.

The Bad: Bit of a slow burner at the start, and some of the early dialogues felt a bit like exposition (albeit necessary when covering this much world-building), but both are worth the pay off.

The Ugly Truth: A modern take on the
Jan 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, dnf
DNF at 26%

(but since I spent 10 days of my life reading that much of this book, you can bet I am rating it even though I did not finish it)

Sadly, Master of Sorrows did not touch the right buttons for me. It all comes down to the fact that this book reads very slowly. Normally, I wouldn't mind if writing is good and characters are fascinating. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not only main character Annev is boring and super annoying but also there is none world-building. This unfortunate
Maja Ingrid
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
4-4,5 stars

“But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same? What if the boy slowly came to realize he was the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?” was what caught my interest when this book came. I’ve found I like that kind of stuff. While the book wasn't exactly what I expected, it was certainly a blast to read. And Annev was a gem to follow. I first thought he was around 15-ish, and not 17, because at times he does
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Every master has an apprenticeship

* *
2 / 5

The premise of Master of Sorrows was intriguing: a boy missing an arm in a world where those with physical scars and “deformities” are presumed to be worshipers of the dark god, with forbidden magic and a secret quest. But mostly I picked it up because I read a review that compared it to The Poppy War. The Poppy War was a dark, compelling, haunting and disturbing masterpiece. It literally haunts me sometimes. Master of Sorrows was nothing like The Poppy
Jeremy Jackson
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, I needed that. The breath of air you get from MoS is both fresh and nostalgic at once; fast-paced and compelling, it reads like a classic fantasy without feeling derivative. It harkens to Earthsea and Name of the Wind, but its world is wholly original. We glimpse intimations of its grander scope, and the promised twist--that the Chosen One is prophesied to be an instrument of darkness instead of good--is tantalizingly alluded to, but never realized. I assume this development will be ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy, arcs, ebooks
I enjoyed Master of Sorrows, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series has in store - however something just felt a little flat, so for now I'm giving it 3.5 which I might up to four stars when I write a full review.
 Vanessa  B. ☽♡
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads, netgalley
Master of Sorrows was a great debut by Justin Travis Calls. It is a dark fantasy that reminded of some other classic fantasy books, such as The Name of the Wind.

The book tells the story of Annev, an orphan who studies at the Academy in order to become an Avatar. Avatars are tasked with finding magical objects and hiding them from the world, in order to protect it from their corruption He is also hiding his identity and power. When he was born he was missing a hand, which was a sign that he is a
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
This SOUNDED on paper like something I'd really enjoy, but in reality it was far from the case. I felt like this was too long, too drawn out and by the end I couldn't wait to finish. The funny thing is, there was plenty of action in the mean time; probably too much. Annev is always competing, fighting, discovering and the whole thing felt exhausting. At first, I was waiting for him to FINALLY achieve his life goal of becoming an avatar. (view spoiler) ...more
Liv | Books to Liv by
Rating: 4.5 stars
HEA: (view spoiler)
“I feared that knowing we might leave one day would stop you pursuing your dreams. Boys need dream. When you become an old man like me, you exchange them for hope, and then spend your hopes on others’ dreams.”

Reading this book was a delightful experience. I knew it was about a young boy, Annev, born with a missing arm, that lived in a secret village where its citizens believed that deformities were the unmistakable mark of an
Justin Call
Apr 07, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This is my book. I rather liked writing it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Some things that may be helpful to know about this novel, its accompanying series, and my writing process:

(1) This is crossover fiction – both Adult Epic Fantasy and YA Fantasy. That's a feature (not a flaw); it's meant to appeal to both teens and adults. Tough cookies if you don't like that, but there it is. I tried to write something that both my 13-year-old self and my 30-year-old self would enjoy. I succeeded in doing
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 5-stars
"There are two trails here, lad. One you know and one you don't. If you want to learn somethin' worth knowin', which do you think you should follow?"

Magic, action, Gods and prophesies: Master of Sorrows is an amazing debut from a new voice in adult fantasy. I was like many people hooked by the summary: "But what if the boy hero and the malevolent, threatening taint were one and the same?" I mean, the hero of the book could be the villain? I'm sold. Still, I didn't expect to be so hooked. I had a
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 2019, netgalley
I just could not get into this book, I found pages and pages of fighting and violence endlessly boring. I was relieved when I finished. I am bummed because I was expecting something different based on other reviews I read.

Kal ★ Reader Voracious

Dreams really do come true! I was sent a beautiful and personalized copy by the author for review in advance of the book's publication in the US! Now does anyone know where I can buy a blacklight?

10/24/19: Bummed I have to wait until February 2020 for it to come out in the US, but super excited for this one!

...wait. Is this what it's like to not benefit from my privilege?
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~~I received an ARC from Netgalley/ Gollancz (Orion Publishing Group) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.~~

3.5/4 stars

(I’m not going to do my usual organizational structure for reviews for this one (characters, then plot etc.) as for the characters, most of the main ones changed per different event in the book, so it would be a bit confusing since some were important, then not and so on.)

What I liked:
- The main aspect I liked about this book was that the story moved
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Okay quick disclaimer: I am actually only half way through this book, but I am bored and felt like writing yet another book review.
Look, this book has been alright so far. However, whilst there are many "world-building" (wow fancy term) elements that I really like in this book (all that good master/apprentice shit, magical artefacts WHICH I AM ABSOLUTE SUCKER FOR), I fucking hate the protagonist.
Story time:
After watching the season finale of the Bachelor, and Richie chose Alex instead of Nikki
Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

“Master of Sorrows” is a Asian inspired epic dark fantasy featuring a reluctant hero who readers can easily gravitate towards and his journey. Unfortunately for me, this was a bit too slow paced for me and there just weren’t any characters that wowed me. In addition, more often times than I would like to admit had put this down to pick something else to read. I don’t think it was about the novel itself but more about me not being in the right mindset to take on this story. More likely
Andy Angel
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some great ideas here and more than a few WTF did i just read moments too. Reminded me a lot of David Eddings, Robert Jordan etc but also, so much more than that. There is a rich history of Gods, Younger Gods, prophecy which makes for a quite delicious read and the idea that our hero is 'destined to be a villain' (from the ARC copy cover) makes for a different spin on things.

I'll post a more detailed review nearer to release date in February but until then i have one question...

Is it too early
A decent debut molded in the tradition of classic epic fantasies with a grim twist regarding the tropes and familiar trappings of the story. It has a coming-of-age feel to it, blended with teen angst, magical action, secret societies & undead assassins, the reincarnation of a dark god, and a prophecy that spices up the plot. The narrative is linear, and the singular perspective from the protagonist lended a smooth flow to the story. I wasn't blown away or anything by the premise, but, being ...more
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available in stores on February 25th, 2020.

I can sum up this book in one word: incredible. I am in awe of Justin T. Call’s writing. I opened the book and was immediately drawn into the story. I got major Name of the Wind vibes, which is high praise indeed.

Where should I start? Well, first off, the storytelling is masterful. There wasn’t a single misstep through the whole book. This book
Raquel Flockhart
Mar 18, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: fantasy, adult, arc
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Lore of Luquatra 4 6 Jun 23, 2019 12:54PM  

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Justin Call graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a Master's in Literature and Creative Writing. He has studied fantasy literature for almost two decades and is the author of Master of Sorrows, Book 1 of The Silent Gods tetralogy. Justin is also the CEO of Broomstick Monkey Games and co-designer of the games Imperial Harvest, Royal Strawberries, Royal Scum, and 8 Kingdoms. He currently ...more

Other books in the series

The Silent Gods (4 books)
  • Master Artificer (The Silent Gods #2)
  • Master of the Fallen (The Silent Gods, #3)
  • Untitled Call 4 of 4 (The Silent Gods #4)
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