Master of Restless Shadows
Author: Ginn Hale
What I’m Talking About:
I’ve been fascinated by Ginn Hale’s writing since snatching Wicked Gentlemen off the shelf at a local bookstore on a gut feeling that I’m still glad for. To begin, I can’t recommend strongly enough reading the other books in the Cadeleonian Series first. It’s been way too long since I read the Lord of the White Hell novels, and I never did follow those with the Champion of the Scarlet Wolf titles. With that in mind, I feel like I missed quite a bit in Master of Restless Shadows, even though the author provides as much background as the narrative progresses as possible. There’s also a fairly thorough glossary at the end that should help, as well.
Unlike the earlier stories, Master of Restless Shadows concerns the fate of two couples, rather than one. Lord Atreau Vediya, the Duke’s spymaster, is far more than he appears to be, and it was easy to feel the weight of the consequences he carries. Still, there are several truly humorous scenes that made me laugh out loud, which balanced some of the pervasive tension his situation generates. Narsi Hilario Lif-Tham, the young, Haldiim physician who is reluctantly brought into the Duke’s household, was a pleasure to read from the start. Kind, resourceful, and determined, he’s a good match for Atreau, and I have high hopes for them in the next book.
Fedeles Quemanor, Duke of Rauma, is at the center of the scheming and machinations of the other players. Also cursed (literally) with a dark past, he is critically important to the fate of the kingdom, no matter how much he doesn’t wish to be. Dance and sword master Ariz Plunado is the greatest threat to Fedeles and his household, despite wanting only to protect them. His story is perhaps the most painful of them all, Ariz ended up being one of my favorite characters. That he’s become dear to Fedeles makes the situation leading up to Volume 2 even more precarious.
Also of mention is that Master of Restless Shadows is heavily political. I definitely appreciated the exploration of the dangerous intersection of church and state and the intolerance—and its potential for breeding atrocities—that seems to be the most insidious byproduct of consolidation of power. There were several passages that stood out in their relevance, such as:
“No foreigners could feel safe now, knowing that they might be prosecuted for failure to subscribe to the dictates of the Cadeleonian church.”
Even if contained in a work of fiction, those observations seem extraordinarily timely at present.
Although I wish I’d been able to dive into the entire series again from the beginning, Master of Restless Shadows is nevertheless an amazing journey. Now that all the players seem to be in their intended places on the board, knowing the truth behind what Atreau calls a “game of noblemen” while watching it unfold is both mesmerizing and terrifying. Even though the time passing in this narrative is short, its foundations have been laid over centuries. It is the author’s masterful approach to history and meticulous worldbuilding that I wanted more of, and will rectify with a thorough re-read before the last book comes out.
While events of Master of Restless Shadows are contained enough to read it on its own, it’s clear the entire series has been leading up to the last volume. Thirteen years and four novels have passed since some of these characters were introduced as schoolmates, and their scars are soul-deep at this point. As much suspense as it is fantasy, Master of Restless Shadows is a race whose outcome could destroy the world itself. I can’t help but be both worried and excited for the next book. Regardless, I’ll bet it’s going to be amazing.
My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
About the Book:
Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.
What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.
After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives.
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Series: Master of Restless Shadows #1, The Cadeleonian Series #5
Genre: High Fantasy, LGBTQ, m/m
Format(s): paperback (401 pages), e-book
Book Source: Blog Tour/Publicist
About Ginn Hale:
Ginn Hale lives with her lovely wife in the Pacific Northwest. She spends the many cloudy days observing plants and fungi. She whiles away the rainy evenings writing fantasy and science-fiction featuring LGBTQ protagonists. Her first novel, Wicked Gentlemen, won the Spectrum Award for best novel. She is also a Lambda Literary Award finalist and Rainbow Award winner.
Her most recent publications include the Lord of the White Hell, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf and The Rifter Trilogy: The Shattered Gates, The Holy Road, His Sacred Bones.
Readers, enter to win 1 of 3 complete e-book sets of The Cadeleonian Series, Volumes 1 – 4 (Lord of the White Hell 1 & 2, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf 1 & 2)
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