Fantasy Romance Review: Master of Crows by Grace Draven

Master of Crows by Grace Draven

bought as part of Darkly Dreaming anthology

Synopsis from Goodreads
What 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.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US($2.99)/UK(£1.83) | The Book Depository | Fishpond


* * *
 Oh my god, why am I so lucky with fantasy reads these past few months?! It's freaking me out.

Master of Crows is mind-blowingly amazing, peeps, and that's that. Anyone who loves fantasy romance should drop whatever they are doing right now and start reading it.

The writing style reminds me of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, - very lush with a strong Mediterranean flavor in world-building. It's also atmospheric and blazingly romantic. Is that even making any sense? I don't know, I just thought that phrase sounded right. *grins*

Silhara is an outcast mage, strong, dark, slightly twisted, very grumpy and largely antisocial. Heck, he even poured a considerable part of his strength into a curse warping surrounding woods so nobody would bother him unless they are really desperate for his help. He is also poor, and provides for himself, his servant and his crows by growing amazing oranges in his orange grove and making perfumes for spoiled aristos.

However, he is losing battle against a rogue god, Corruption, who wants to use him as an avatar and destroy the world, so he asks a Conclave of mages for help in searching for a spell to kill that god.

Enter, Martise. A plain woman, a scribe with a photographic memory and a knack for various languages, she is sent as an apprentice for Silhara. She is also a slave for a mage who hates Silhara and promises Martise her freedom if she finds something that would justify Conclave in destroying the dark mage.

Silhara who doesn't think much of Conclave's spy and Martise who is used to being ignored by men and determined to win her freedom are forced to work together, and slowly day by day they change their opinion of each other and irrevocably fall in love.

Silhara is breathtakingly beautiful in a sharp, savage way, but he is so obnoxious, Martise hates his guts when he starts training her in magic! He also knows she is a spy and doesn't let her know anything of importance about himself.

On the other hand Martise has an amazing voice (although she is a terrible singer) and a wicked sense of humour which she hides under her subservient behaviour, so despite trying to keep his distance the mage gets more and more interested in his apprentice.

 “You have done an unwise thing, Martise of Asher,” he said softly. “You’ve caught my interest.”

This is a very strong and charismatic couple, ladies and gents. There is magnetism and wildness and raw power in their dynamics, and despite such different strengths, they are equals. The romance is scorching hot without cheesy sweetness.

In fact, the most romantic thing in my eyes was how Silhara dealt with Martise's ex-lover when the guy was slagging her off behind her back. So deliciously savage!

The plot is straightforward, easy to follow and full of adventures. It's a very well written book with a well rounded world-building, and you can't help but enjoy every moment of it. 

I saw a sketch of the cover for the book two in the series, and I can't wait to see more of Silhara and Martise. Gorgeous writing, one of the most memorable reads for me this year, very much recommended!

"Come in, Martise." Silhara's voice was almost sibilant in the darkness as he tagged on her hand. "There are no soul eaters here."
No, she thought. Only heart thieves.
Yes, book. You stole my heart.

* * *
Какая замечательная книга, дамы и господа! Я вообще не понимаю почему мне так везёт с жанром фэнтези в последние пару месяцев. Практически каждая прочтённая книга идёт просто на ура!

Писательский стиль Грэйс Дрэйвен очень напомнил мне первую книгу Н.К. Джемизин "Сто Тысяч Королевств" - богатый, яркий мир с сильным средиземноморским привкусом и чрезвычайно харизматичными, пылкими главными героями.

Мастер Воронов - это романтическое фэнтези, так что, любители этого суб-жанра, вы эту книгу просто должны прочитать! Я балдела от всего - от Сильяры и Мартиз, от их острых диалогов, от столкновения их сильных, упрямых характеров, и конечно от их приключений.

Сильяра - тёмный маг отшельник, которого ненавидит и опасается большая часть Конклава магов. Он настолько нелюдим, что даже окружил свой особняк проклятьем, которое съедает хорошую часть его сил только для того, чтобы отпугивать незванных посетителей. Он также беден, и зарабатывает себе на жизнь, выращивая вкуснейшие апельсины и создавая духи для богатых аристократов. 

И всё было бы хорошо, если бы не приклинаемый всеми бог Порчи не захотел сделать его своим аватаром. Отчаявшийся Сильяра просит Конклав о помощи в поиске заклинания, которое смогло бы убить бога, и получает Мартиз.

Мартиз - школяр с фотогеничной памятью и способностью к языкам, тихая, некрасивая женщина и незаменимый шпион, но она также рабыня мага, ненавидящего Сильяру, и тот готов за информацию, способную погубить его врага подарить ей свободу.

Сильяра - дико красив, однако очень груб, резок и не скрывает правды, и учитывая как он относится к Мартиз, подозревая, что она шпион Конклава, она начинает знакомство с ним, просто его ненавидя. Однако чем больше мастер и подмастерье работают друг с другом и узнают, что скрывается за их фасадами, тем больше они друг в друга влюбляются.

Не ждите от Мастера Воронов слащавых признаний в любви и драматизма, однако он просто убивает наповал своим неотшлифованным, простым поэтизмом, и действиями главным героев, которые говорят об их любви друг к другу громче каких-либо слов.

Для меня честно говоря самым романтичным в этой книге было то, что Сильяра сделал с бывшим любовником Мартиз, который как последний подонок поносил ту у неё за спиной. Вот тогда у меня сердце просто забарабанило!

Очень магнетичная пара, между ними прекрасный баланс сил, острое чувство юмора и яркая чувственность. Одна из лучших книг года для меня, обязательно буду читать мисс Дрэйвен дальше.

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