Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Series: Master of Crows #1
Published by Amber Quill Press on July 13, 2009
Genres: Fantasy Romance, Romance
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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.
I purchased Master of Crows as part of a (no longer available) box set named Darkly Dreaming. All of the authors in the Darkly Dreaming box set were NTM but I bought the set based on the strength of the recommendations for Master of Crows alone.
I am SO GLAD I listened to the recommendations and bought this book!
When I started Master of Crows I had no clue what the story was about. I’d not read the blurb or any reviews so everything was very new for me. Fun!!
Master of Crows started rather slowly. Normally the slow buildup would annoy me but Draven does it so well! I was entranced at the world unfolding before me so I didn’t feel impatient to “get on with the story.”
I loved the way that Draven turned some typical romance stereotypes on their heads: the heroine, Martise, is not beautiful or even considered pretty – she’s considered rather plain by all who know her. What makes her outstanding is her personality, her wit, her intelligence and her beautiful speaking voice. Silhara, the hero, is all that is beautiful: tall, lithe, nicely muscled body and handsome face. Silhara’s also a total asshole to Martise in the beginning and he’s both reviled among his peers as well as poor.
The whole first part of Master of Crows allows Martise and Silhara to get to know each other – learn to respect each other and it was quite wonderful. Martise is a great heroine and Silhara – although arrogant – is a great person who obviously cares much more about people than about things. The relationship he has with his (only) servant/friend shows how much Silhara cares about people and he was willing to sacrifice himself to ensure the rest of the world was safe from Corruption.
There’s just so much lovely happening in this book! There’s so much to love but it’s so hard to explain exactly what it is that entrances me so much. The worldbuilding is lovely, the characters are nuanced and easy to love (even secondary characters), the writing itself is so smooth… I *hope* that Grace Draven does what few authors have done since Andre Norton: create a mythology filled multifaceted world that tells the stories of numerous people(s).
When I (reluctantly) reached the end of Master of Crows…I was decidedly satisfied. And I hoped (with both fingers crossed) that Draven would NOT decide to write a sequel to this story based around the same couple. I felt that the ending of Master of Crows was perfect and needed no addition. I’ve learned that a sequel starring Martise and Silhara will be released this year – and I’ll buy it, lol. The strength of Master of Crows encouraged me to purchase several more short stories and novels by Grace Draven.