A deep dive into a world of magic and artifacts with unknown potential…..and a world full of darkness.
Author: Justin T. Call Publisher: Gollancz
Page Count: 896
Ever since I read Master of Sorrows, I have been excited for the launch of this book, to see where Annev’s story would take him next. I won’t lie, when the hardback arrived, I was quite intimidated by its sheer size and weight – I don’t think I have ever held such a heavy novel before. Now that I have finally climbed through the mountain of pages, I have come out of it with a mixed set of feelings. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it; the book was a pleasure to read and I am continuing to be excited to read the future novels, but there were a couple of thoughts running through my brain as I read this novel, that I will explore within this review.
I always like to start with the positives within my reviews, and there are plenty of fantastic aspects to discuss within Master Artificer. First of all, Justin T. Call is a fantastic writer, who has embellished his world with huge levels of detail, whilst being able to make this novel easy to read. This sequel truly expands upon the world that Call created within the first novel, in some ways I feel the first book blindfolds you (similar to how Annev sees the world), and as he discovers more about the world, so does the reader. There is an immediate explosion of details, as the deep magic system is introduced and explored, as well as a further dive into the artifacts, which are still very prominent within this novel. Some books that contain deeper magic systems, can sometimes become overburdened with new words, definitions and explanations; but Call does a brilliant job of feeding you the information so you can still enjoy the story, whilst you learn how the world works. Call has made quite a wide and varied magic system, which is straight up my alley. The combinations of magic within the book really makes you curious about the true potential of some of the characters within the story, and at the same time wonder what could be explored within the future novels. The images in the back of the novels, outlining the different combinations was also a wonderful touch, feeding my inner nerd.
Master Artificer contains a large cast of characters, who hold different personalities and traits from each other, and no two characters ever feel too similar. It is clear that Call has been thoughtful with his characters, each containing their own backstories. There were no particular character that I disliked within the novel, and found myself excited to read through each POV from chapter to chapter. Within Master Artificer, the selection of POVs jumps to around 3-4 main characters, all following a different situation and goal within this larger world. Annev is continuing his journey, trying to discover how he fits within the world, while at the same time trying to remove his golden hand of destruction. Fyn wants to make a name for himself in the criminal underworld, Kenton is plotting his revenge and Myjun is turning herself into an unstoppable weapon. Each POV is entwined with a selection of side characters, each bringing their own elements to the story whether they are helpful or a hindrance to the main characters.
Reading through the novel however, there was one key question that sat within the back of my mind: does this novel need to be over 800 pages. I know this question will be subjective to myself, some people enjoy hugely thick novels. Throughout my reading, I have not yet come across a novel that is so huge in size and at the end I have understood why. Unfortunately, for me Master Artificer falls into the same category. Whilst reading through the story, I did feel like there were some elements of repeated explanation and some parts that could have been shorter. At the end of the novel I felt exhausted, and that the story could have been told in 600 pages or less. This links with my other question about the novel, and without spoiling anything, I felt the story lacked a little bit in direction. Reaching the end of the book, I did feel a little unsatisfied, after all those pages that the story didn’t reach where I expected it to go. The good news for me is that I know Call has a clear plan for his novels, and reading the sequels will answer all my questions about the direction of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the deep magic system was a true delight to read. I am going to give this book a 3/5 (if I did between scores it would be more 3.5) but the length and direction did hold me back a little. Fans of longer novels will really love this book.