I’ve had this book on my shelf for an embarrassing amount of time, with a bookmark in it on page one and everything. I even bought this from Book Depository before it was released in the US. Turns out that I have very, very little unscheduled time for reading print books these days though, so it took until I could get the audiobook before I could get started.
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 evil god? Would he save the world . . . or destroy it?
Among the Academy’s warrior-thieves, Annev de Breth is an outlier. Unlike his classmates who were stolen as infants from the capital city, Annev was born in the small village of Chaenbalu, was believed to be executed, and then unknowingly raised by his parents’ killers.
Seventeen years later, Annev struggles with the burdens of a forbidden magic, a forgotten heritage, and a secret deformity. When he is subsequently caught between the warring ideologies of his priestly mentor and the Academy’s masters, he must choose between forfeiting his promising future at the Academy or betraying his closest friends. Each decision leads to a deeper dilemma, until Annev finds himself pressed into a quest he does not wish to fulfil.
Will he finally embrace the doctrine of his tutors, murder a stranger, and abandon his mentor? Or will he accept the more difficult truth of who he is . . . and the darker truth of what he may become . . .
This is the story of Annev de Breath. Annev is an orphaned teenage boy who, for the majority of this story is attending a secret Academy where the students are taught to identify magical artifacts, who then go around the world finding those artifacts, stealing them, and keeping them safe. Magic is considered dangerous and forbidden in this world.
He was raised by a wise old priest named Sodar, who keeps him safe, but keeps many things about Annev and his childhood and his parents a secret. What Annev doesn’t know is that he might be a reincarnation of an evil god that was destroyed centuries ago. He struggles with magic, and hides the fact that one of his arms is missing, replaced by a magical prosthetic. If his teachers or classmates found out about his missing arm, it would give him away, as there is a prophecy that evil will be reborn with one hand.
This was an interesting subversion of the ‘chosen one’ trope, in that the hero, and the chosen one in this particular case isn’t meant to fight the dark lord, he’s meant to be the dark lord. That was a unique idea that is what drew me to the idea of reading this book. I liked Annev as a character, and found him fairly easy to cheer for. I also liked Sodar and his relationship with Annev. As a book with a magical academy, it’s almost a given that this one had to have the asshole rival student, and in this case it was a boy named Fyn, who was, well… appropriately annoying, really. He was easy to dislike. The only part of this one I found kind of annoying was the romance between the main character and the headmaster’s daughter. I know that the MC is only seventeen, but this felt really quite eye-rolly at times. But, to each their own.
The writing was engaging and I quite liked the story, though I will say that I enjoyed the second half of the story much more than the first. But, all the same, I did listen to this book in two sittings, and this one is 19 hours long. So, it can be said that I liked it. It kept me very busy at work. Master of Sorrows is narrated by Peter Kenny who is one of my favorite narrators, and he did a fantastic job with it, just as he does with other books that he narrates.
So, all told, I quite liked this one, and found it quite an entertaining way to spend about a couple of workdays. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Magical Academy trope, or is intrigued by a book that takes the Chosen One trope and turns it on its head. 4.5/5 stars!~