Master of Restless Shadows Book One

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

3/5 stars :

I really wanted to love this book, I really, really did. It has so many of the things that interest me in a book: fantasy, LGBT+ rep, political intrigue, etc. But in the end the story just didn't deliver what I was looking for. 

I'm giving this book 3 stars because even though I didn't like it much I can say that the book wasn't bad. I understand why other people love it and I would encourage anyone who's thinking of reading it to pick it up and give it a try. It just wasn't for me. 

The story started quite slowly in terms of plot and action. Not many things happen in the first hundred pages or so and that made it hard for me to want to continue reading. However, during that time, we're also getting a lot of information presented to us, especially a lot of characters' names and world-building. It made things so confusing and I kept forgetting who everyone was and the ties they had to other characters. 

The world building had a lot of potential for me and I found it so interesting throughout the entire book, but it also felt confusing. There are various nations or kingdoms or "places" in this book and they've all got their traditions, customs, religions, social norms. It felt very well developed but so much was introduced at once every time that it was hard to keep up. So the background of all these nations felt sturdy and well-done but it ended up taking away from my enjoyment of the book. 

I have to say that I liked the writing style. Although I wouldn't say it is very poetic it is descriptive and nice. 

The "main" characters were honestly the best part of this book and I wish the book could have centered itself more on them and their singular and collective stories instead of so many side-characters and side-plots. Ariz was definitely my favorite and I'm sad that I won't get to know more of his fate after this book. Who knows? Maybe when the second book in this series comes out I'll end up reading the book just for him?

To finish off this review I would say that if you're looking for fast fantasy or a heavy-romance in your fantasy kind of book I wouldn't recommend this. But if you like intricate and heavy world-building, multiple plots happening at once and interesting characters you might want to give this a try.
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Master of Restless Shadows is perfect for fantasy lovers. Hale builds a rich and complex world with so much detail and care, and the same amount of care goes into the characters. 

The reader follows freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm as he arrives at the royal capital of Cieloalta, promised employment from Lord Fedeles Quemanor. The city is restless, with assassins hunting throughout the city and ancient magic awaking. When Narsi bumps into Atreau Vediya, an author whose works Narsi much admires, renowned in engaging in scandalous affairs, it turns out Atreau has a special use for Narsi.

We also follow Ariz, an ex-nobleman tragically bound to serve his master, Hierro, through his magic Brand of Obedience. Forced to carry out assassinations through the city and spy in the court, his obedience to his master becomes even more unbearable when he becomes attached to Lord Quemanor and his son, the very family Hierro wishes to overthrow and destroy.

The politics of the world and the court kept me engaged: having never read anything in the Cadeleonian series before, everything was new and exciting to discover. Despite having never read previous books in the worlds, I feel like this in no way hindered my reading experience, as I was fully absorbed into the world. The first few chapters did require some more patience, to learn the names and the rules of the world, but this is expected of any fantasy novel, and I quickly became accustomed.

Some thoughts and ideas illuminated by the text were particularly interesting. Hale presents a world of diverse religions as well as religious intolerance. One character, Father Timoteo, argues for the need to refigure this fractured world into it’s true nature: one of unity under holiness: “I think that all people of all nations are in possession of parts of a whole, and if we wish to know and serve our Lord we must seek those pieces out by exchanging ideas and teaching”. Such statements are quietly astounding in the novel, asking for a reformation in the constantly warring world. Hale’s insight through Father Timoteo also moved me and had me reflecting about this reality – the hallmark of great fantasy.

It was refreshing to see that all the main protagonists were queer. I am so used to reading fantasy books in which there is at most one main queer couple, but in Master of Restless Shadows, the queer characters are no relegated to minor characters. Additionally, I am usually sceptical of homophobia existing in fantasy realms (it seems to me straight authors often seem to see homophobia as a default in fantasy realms rather than questioning if it even needs a place in world), but by interrogating the existence of homophobia in Cadeleonia and having queer characters centre stage, Hale is exempt from this scepticism.

Overall, Hale created a book which I hated to put down and yearned to pick up all the time. I eagerly await Book Two in the Master of Restless Shadows series.
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Netgalley provided me with an arc in exchange of an honest review. All the following opinions are my own.

This was such a nice book to read!! It had, in my opinion, a great balance between Greater Plot and Romance Plot. There were some really exciting bits, and then there were some dull bits, but overall I think it was nicely paced and the story nicely developed. 
I'm gonna be honest, though: Although i can recognize the plot is really interesting and exciting, I was more invested in the characters' personal storylines. Specifically Ariz's, because he stole my heart from the very first time he showed up on the pages. My sweet summer child. 
There is a lot of things about the book that i loved, others that I liked, and others that I didn't really care much for. There is, however, nothing that I hated. That's a very good thing. So I'll make a brief list of all these things I just mentioned: 
I liked the content warning at the beginning. I had never read a book that had one of those, and I felt so amazed and touched that this book had it, because so many people forget to be mindful of readers' triggers and squicks. Good job.
I loved, loved the diversity in this book. There were gay characters, and trans characters, and POC, and amazing female characters, and gah, loved it. Hopefully we'll see more gay women in the next books (please... let me live Through Them), but I LOVED how diverse all these characters were.
I loved Ariz. I think all the characters were really well written, and I fell a little bit with all of them (except for one, whom you will know when you read the book. They can rot in hell.), and I read the story mostly for the characters than anything else. 
The relationships were so well done. They made sense, they had a pretty nice slow burn (that had me yelling at my screen and my friend more often than not), and they were, as I said in the beginning, well balanced with the bigger plot.
I think the world building got a little heavy and a bit boring at times. This is most likely a personal thing, but I really didn't care much about the politics and power play beyond how they might directly affect the characters. I understand why they're necessary for the plot, though, and I think exposition was, for the most part, well executed. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I hope a lot of people also enjoy it, and I can't wait for the next one!! I'll spend the next year missing Ariz-- I mean, hah, everyone, ahem-- very dearly. 
Thank you for the chance to read it!!
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First of all, if you haven't read the books Lord of the White Hell 1+2 and Champion of the Scarlet Wolf 1+2, you should definitely do so before reading this book, in the order I mentioned. One, because they are brilliant fantasy queer books, two, because you might get confused if you try to start with this one. And third, reading this book will spoil you the first two duologies, because its a continuation in the same world with different characters, taking place several years after them.

This book certainly isn't an easy read - it takes place in an incredibly rich fantasy world, full of complicated politics and magic. The setting reminds me most of Florence and other Italian cities during Renesaince.

We have four main protagonists in this story, whose point of view alternate. First, we have young doctor Narsi, a newcomer in this city who has head full of plans for brilliant adventures. He really longs to meet his great idol, book author Atreau Vediya, who is known for being local Cassanova, who is our second protagonist. Atreau has played role in both previous duologies and is now a man in his thirties and more jaded than ever.
There are two more surprise protagonists and its mildly spoilery, so treat with caution. (see spoilers on my goodreads review)

All four characters are amazing, some you love from the first time you read their story, others later, when you finally understand them. Hell, basically every character in this book is brilliant, so vivid and life-like and likeable, with the exception of villains, who i hated with a burning passion of thousands of sun.

The plot is beautifully vowen and its a joy to untangle. Romance is sweet and it made me want to hug them all. (none of the protagonists are straight, btw.) Do not expect explicit sex scene, though, its not that kind of the book. (mayybee in the sequel?)

My only complaint is that the book ends a bit abruptly and I need. NEED. the sequel ASAP and I am literally dying over here.
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5/5 stars!!

Did I expect to give any less to anything written by Ginn Hale?? Absolutely not!

First of all, I loved the first 4 books in the Cadeleonian Series, so of COURSE I was so excited when I learned there was going to be 2 more, and that we were finally (FINALLY) going to learn a little more about Atreau, his past, and what really happened to him during and after the events of Champion of the Scarlet Witch.

Having read the previous novels a couple years ago, I will admit it was a little bit difficult to remember all the specifics of them: the world, the characters, the drama... (solely due to sheer amount of the detail that has gone into building this world) but I slowly remembered as I was reading and it didn't detract from my reading experience as a whole at all. However, I would imagine that for someone who picked this up as an introduction to the series might have found the terminology Hale has created and the complex and intertwining background stories for each character a little harder to follow. (I would recommend reading the previous novels first, but it sounds like others found it was a good read despite not having the background.)

Overall, I LOVED it. I wouldn't--COULDN'T put it down. I would (and i HAVE) recommend this series to everyone! I am completely addicted to Hale's world and character building and the relationships between those characters (Skellen and Elezar were a personal fave, but I'm SO intrigued by Ariz and of COURSE I love watching my faves suffer, so I'm excited to see more of Atreau!!!).

The only downside to absolutely smashing my way through book 1 is that now I have to wait for book 2!!
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I would definitely recommend reading the other books set in this world before reading this one. I was really lost most of the time and it was hard to connect to the story and the characters because of that. I really like the relationships and Ariz’ storyline though. And it has amazing representation and a trigger list right at the beginning which I really appreciate. The world building really bored me at times and at the end i only skimmed the pages until there was something that interested me.
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I'll start by saying this is the first book I've read by Ginn Hale. It won't be the last and I'll be going back to read the earlier ones. 

While this is the first in a new series, it's connected to her other books-same world and a lot of the same characters. I do feel readers would benefit from reading the other series first.

That being said, I did enjoy Master of Restless Shadows. it focuses mostly on Narsi and Arteau. The two heroes are trying to unravel the intrigues and mysteries of their country before everything falls apart. 

There is magic and betrayal along with marvelous world building. I am looking for to reading the rest of this series and see if our heroes (and their friends) can save their world.
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I didn't realise that this is actually part of a bigger series and when I looked up the rest of the books I found out they were ones that I have had on my wish list for quite a few years and for some reason never brought (that's going to have to change). Even with the amount of history to the characters and world that I didn't know I found that it was written in a way that helped you get familiar with the characters and their history so it didn't effect my enjoyment. The characters are what made this book for me. Narsi  was a interesting character, he was sweet and caring but he also didn't let people take advantage of him and he was slightly naïve but this didn't make him an idiot who believed everything said to him. Atreau I found to be the weakest character, I didn't really connect with him and found it hard to figure out his motives sometimes. Maybe I need to have read the earlier works to get a hold of his character, I'm not sure. Their relationship wasn't the most exciting, I've seen the same type of relationship play out in quite a lot of books like this. It didn't make me melt inside not like the relationship between a couple of the other characters did.
My favourite character was Ariz, he was a instant connection, his struggle with his situation and his need to do the right thing was heart-breaking to read. I felt so deeply for him, I think if he wasn't there I wouldn't have enjoyed this book as much as I did. His protective feelings towards his sister, his nieces and student really endeared him to me. I just want him to be happy and free!
Fedeles grew on me as the book went on until I loved him as much as I did Ariz. His history is what made me decide that I need to read the other books, you only really skim the surface of his past trauma and left me needing to know more. He is a very intriguing character, how his fears from his past dictate his life now so many years later made his character development so interesting to read. I feel that he is going to be a very strong character once he stops feeling afraid of what he can do.
Plot wise this seemed to have a lot happening and yet at the same time not have much happening when you looked back at it after reading. I found the ending a bit unsatisfying, it wasn't technically a cliff hanger but it was like the story just stopped half way though the telling with no wrap up. But this also left me needing more so it probably achieved what the author wanted in the end. I can't wait to read more, I need to know what happens to my Ariz!
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** I received an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.**

I've never read Ginn Hale before, but I'm glad I choose this book. The writing is amazing, the characters so interesting and the story well paced and hard to put down! Really really good!
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Wasn't sure how to review this exactly, as most reviews have said that it refers to other books set in the same universe. Maybe it would work for me more if I read Ms. Hale's other works, like Lord of the White Hell. I was seriously so confused from the onset that it affected my reading.
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Okay, this is a DNF but only a temporary one. The writing, characters, and plot has been amazing so far (I stopped at 20%) but I didn’t realize that this wasn’t the first book set in this world. I’m going to catch up on previous books and then come back to this.
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i had so much fun reading this! i had never read anything else by ginn hale (much less set in the same universe) so i was worried there was backstory or worldbuilding i would be missing; while it was dense at times it was never overwhelming and i think hale is really skilled at introducing worldbuilding elements that are embedded deeply into the relationships and personalities of the characters.

i also thought this might be a romance with fantasy trappings going in, but am much more delighted to find that it’s robust character-driven fantasy with appropriately slow burn romantic dynamics that aren’t at all resolved yet... i’m happy to see gay characters and relationships getting the series/gradual buildup treatment and really happy with how hale is able to include a range of lgbtq characters in the world of courtly intrigue she builds. lots of other things i’m happy about with this book too and i am excited to get to hear the rest of their story!
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**Disclaimer: I was given an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.**



I appreciate that the author included a Content Warning in the beginning of the book. Sometimes you have to figure out content warnings from reviews, but with that comes potential spoilers.

However, after delving almost a quarter of the way through the book, it seems I have to be aware of the previous books in the author's "world'. The glowing reviews are talking about revisiting story lines with the few main characters/point of views, but I couldn't connect, and i wasn't interested in the story; however, the language and prose is beautiful.

Maybe some other time?
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What a difficult book for me to rate! 

I'm a big fan of Ginn Hale's fantastic storytelling. I've been dying to read from Atreau's POV ever since Lord of the White Hell, Book 1, which if you don't know has a second installment and continues with Book 1&2 of Champion of the Scarlet Wolf. 

So, Master of Restless Shadows​ ​gives us not only Atreau & Narsi but also Fedeles & Ariz. Yep, FOUR POVs, two romances and many many side characters. Now, that might delight many of you! As for me? I don't know how I feel about it. 

Honestly, all I wanted was to read more from Atreau (HE'S SO FREAKING PRECIOUS). 
I approve of Atreau and Narsi. Lovely couple, so many secrets and insecurities. Very precious. Also a bit mysterious and thrilling.

Perhaps I'm simply not a huge fan of Fedeles. Don't get me wrong, he's all right. He and Ariz were all right, I'm just not that much into them. 

The book as a whole wasn't what I expected, what I wanted it to be. 

Am I disappointed? Yes, a little.  

I didn't get my fill of Atreau.

The story feels HUGE, so much is going on. Personally, I find it dragging (likely because I didn't care so much for Fedeles...). Took me a week to finish reading. Once again though, the story itself is brilliant; Ginn Hale is one very smart and imaginative person. Very admirable. It doesn't feel like we've been away for eleven years (since Champion of the Scarlet Wolf). 

I NEED MORE ATREAU and Narsi. And I want Kiram and Javier back T__T

Many, many thanks to the publisher who kindly provided a free copy for an honest and impartial review.
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I received an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

I've never read a Ginn Hale novel before and I'm glad that I did. This book is so full of interesting characters. Spies, assassin's, corruption, greed, God's and monsters, that leave you on your toes wanting to know what happens next. 
The writting was phenomenal. I found myself reading this book fast, it was hard to stop put it at one point. 

I can't wait until the second book comes out. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

And I will definitely, be looking out for future novels by Ginn Hale, as well as looking into some of her older material.
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I've loved all of Ginn Hale's previous books, so it was no surprise to me that this one was the same. I do wish I had re-read the previous books in this world beforehand since so many of the characters show up again and so many story lines are coming to a conclusion. I will likely have to reread them and this before the the second book in the duology comes out, but I can hardly wait!
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This was seriously good and even not having read any other books set in this world I enjoyed it immensely. The world building was top-notch and the characters were so well-written that the storyline played like a movie in my mind (the hallmark of of great book), I found it hard to put down. I am most definitely going to be reading the other books in the near future.

*I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by NetGalley*
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14 July 2019

I sit here in wonder and self-recrimination. I did my biannual re-read of The Lord of the White Hell and Champion of the Scarlett Wolf back in November or December. Now I'm wishing I had done it even more recently. But, that's not my biggest concern. My biggest regret is that now I have to anxiously await volume two of this wonderful duology.

It is now approximately thirteen years since the events of the Lord of the White Hell duology. In this, our MCs from the Sagrada Academy and the Hellions are Fedeles Quemanor, Atreau Vediyu, Father Timoteo Grunito, and several guest appearances and/or mentions of other notables from the previous two duologies.

We are introduced to several new and important characters, one of which could possibly have been in TLOTWH, but I just can't remember. Arg!! I feel like Atreau now. Of course, political intrigues play a major role in the story, and danger and betrayal lurk around every corner. We are in Cadeleon now, so there is no longer magic involved, right? RIGHT...Blessings, spells, and holding people in thrall abound throughout the city; some with the aim of protection, others with greed and sadistic domination as their motivation. And, unfortunately, the internal battle still wages within Fedeles regarding the true motivations of his shadow that remains after his own soul was released from being enthralled.

Spies, assassins, corruption, and greed run rampant in the streets of Cieloalta in this first volume of Master of Restless Shadows. But with critical thinkers, and the aid of the 'enemy,' I am so very much looking forward to getting my hands on the second volume as soon as I possibly can!

Happy reading!

* I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley and I am leaving my honest review. *
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** I received an electronic ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest review.**

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Ginn Hale's newest fantasy continues to explore the universe she has previously established in other works. In this book, we follow a wide variety of characters, but most notably Narsi and Atreau. Narsi is a newly appointed master physician, whereas Atreau is an author, nobleman, and is much more than the lush he would have his peers perceive him to be. 

Let me begin by stating that I have not read any other books set in this universe, and so I was diving in without having knowledge of characters/backgrounds/setting/magic system that had already been established. While I firmly believe that reading the other books first would have added to my reading experience, I also believe that a reader can enter the universe with this book without suffering for it. Hale's world-building is rich, intricate, full of culture, customs, magic, LGBTQ+ representation, and more. 

The book does begin with a rather in-depth content warning for a wide variety of items. I was both pleased and surprised to see the content warning, and feel more books should include them. However, having finished the book, I can say that the content warning made me expect the story to be far more explicit and aggressive than it actually was. 

For as many characters, places, gods, etc. featured in this book, Hale absolutely developed every last one of them. I have no doubt that even side characters had backstories and the characters were both charming and flawed. 

As much as I loved reading this book for the amazing character development and world-building, it did make for a very dense read that wasn't something that could be read quickly. This is definitely a book for savoring rather than blazing through. 

I found the ending to be a little odd, and it made me think of the scene prior to intermission of a play. It isn't a cliffhanger per se, but you absolutely couldn't allow the story to end there. I'm aware Hale intends on a sequel for this book, so I guess I'll just have to read the other books in this universe while I wait for that to come out.
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