As soon as I finished Radiance, I knew I simply had to jump into Grace Draven’s backlist. I chose this one based on its glowing recommendations on Goodreads. Sadly, though, I didn’t love it as much as some of my fellow readers did. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good stuff here. My problem was just in how long it took to get there.
Silhara is a powerful mage and an outcast. He lives in poverty because he is unwilling to bend and swear fealty to the priests of the Conclave. He is strong and proud. Unfortunately, he is facing a problem too big to conquer alone. The god Corruption wants to use him as his avatar. It would mean limitless power. Sihara knows, however, that accepting the temptation would not only destroy him, but also destroy the world. So he reaches out to the very priests he hates to send him help to figure out how to conquer his foe.
Martise has a gift for translating old tomes and she has a photographic memory. She is the perfect person to help Silhara with his task. But she is also the perfect spy for the Conclave, since she is a bound slave. She can only win her freedom if she helps get dirt on Silhara, so she accepts the mission, despite her reservations.
The first half of this book was super-slow for me. There is no romance –or really even a spark– between Silhara and Martise. He’s a hard man and she is a practiced slave. We do see hints of more: glimpses of her wit and temper or his loyalty and honesty. And when they finally start working as a team, and much later, begin a romance, the book picks up steam. The last third is very good: engaging and satisfying. I just took a long time to connect to it.
The world building is interesting, but it’s not seamless. I had to think about it a lot and I never really settled into it comfortably. This is a world steeped in magic and different cultures without common touchstones of the genre. But the characters are well developed and the progression of the relationships, though drawn out, were believable. Even the secondary characters, like the servant Gurl and the Kurman people really fleshed the story out. There’s a good bit of sexual tension peppered in during the build and that paid off well too.
Draven is a gifted fantasy romance writer, but I would recommend Radiance over this one.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Master of Crows
by Grace Draven
Release Date: July 13, 2009