Read The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick Online

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In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of theIn a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack... Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.File Under: Fantasy [ Wherefore Art Thou | Fathers of Invention | Unexpected Journeys | Secrets & Lies ]...

Title : The Shadow Master
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780857665157
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 342 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Shadow Master Reviews

  • Dan Schwent
    2018-12-12 00:55

    When his brother is killed, Cosimo de Medici declares war on the Lorraines. Too bad a close associate of the Medici family, Lorenzo, protege to Galileo, is in love with Lucia, daughter of Duke Lorraine...I got this from Angry Robot via Netgalley.In an alternate world resembling 16th century Italy, a plague has ravaged the world and much of humanity takes refuge in the Walled City where the Medicis and the Lorraines vie for superiority. The Medicis have Galileo and the Lorraines have Leonardo.There was a lot of enjoyable stuff going on in this. While the basic plot resembles Romeo and Juliet, there's a whole lot of other things going on, like arcane science practiced by Galileo and Leonardo. The politics of the Walled City are explored, including the plague victims, and the nature of reality is touched upon. The mysterious Shadow Master and the Nameless One pull the strings from the shadows. I wasn't really sure where the story was going to go.The writing was really good. There was some unexpected humor and Cormick painted a vivid picture of his world. I liked that The Shadow Master rose above it's Romeo and Juliet roots.However, I'm not precisely sure what actually happened in the later parts of the book. I kind of understood what the machines of the ancients did but I found the ending really muddy. I liked parts of the book quite a bit but it lost me near the end. Three out of five stars.

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    2018-11-21 22:40

    You would think that a book that starts off with a character saying "Tar my bung hole and use me for a keg!" would be epic. The beginning of this book is. There is a plague that is hitting the countryside and everyone is dying. Inside the walls of this kingdom though the scientist/apothecarists have discoved some spices that can be brewed as tea that staves off the plague. Two main families control that trade. Enter Romeo/Juliet type scenario.The first 45% of this book was just so fun. There was even talk of making a huge iron man to fight the other family.Enter into the second half. I have no clue where this story wanted to go. I did finish it and still don't really understand it. The ending was just..well I finished it. I recieved a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    2018-12-05 20:30

    2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.blogspot.com/201...I wish I could write a more positive review for this book, I really do. The Shadow Master has so much going for it, including a setting resembling an alternate-history Renaissance Italy, with just a touch of that steampunk flavor with its clockwork inventions and automatons. We also mustn’t forget the biggie for me – a plot thread about a pair of star-crossed lovers separated by the warring between their families. I do get a kick out of Forbidden Love. This book just seemed made for me, and indeed I liked a lot of its separate parts. I’m just not sure how well I liked the whole. If the book’s description didn’t make you think it already, then I’m sure its epigraph “A plague a’ both your houses!” certainly would – the basic plot is very much reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. However, this is not a romance. In fact, one of my biggest disappointments was not feeling any connection at all between the two young lovers: Lucia, daughter of the Duke of House Lorraine and Lorenzo, whose loyalties lies with the House Medici. With the two families at each other’s throats, the future of Lucia and Lorenzo’s relationship hangs in the balance, but without first being convinced of their bond, I found it hard to stay interested. Their love story, which should have served as the starting point and foundation of the novel, didn’t initially captivate me, and as a result the rest of the story failed to deliver the desired impact. But as I’d alluded to, there were quite a few things I enjoyed about this book. I enjoyed the appearance of several historical figures including Galileo and Leonardo Da Vinci, even though they weren’t contemporaries, but their “war of the wits” gave the Medici vs. Lorraine battle a certain fantastical flare. Both are reluctant geniuses caught in the conflict between the Houses, receiving pressure from their leaders to design and build magical inventions that would give their side the advantage. The city is also threatened by plague, a problem literally at its doorstep as hordes of the sick and dying amass outside the gates. The first half of this book was quite engaging for these reasons. Around the 60% mark, however, events of the story suddenly made a turn for the confusing. Kidnappings and assassination attempts and negotiations become entangled in mystical machines, madmen and ancients. The events were so jumbled and disconnected that I’m still a bit uncertain as to what really happened. I think the language and the author’s writing style might have also made following the story a little more difficult. I didn’t click with some of the dialogue between characters spoken in riddles, and at times the prose also had a tendency to feel overly embellished with the use of euphemisms, especially during moments of intensity. Torture scenes or sex scenes were made incredibly awkward by terms like “serpent of sin”, “tower of ivory”, “fountain of relief”, “cave of wonders” and “mountains of the goddess”. There was speculation between me and another blogger that some of these were done purposely for the sake of satire, which I admit was something that hadn’t occurred to me. It’s possible, I suppose, though if that’s the case it’s not presented in a very obvious manner. If the last half had been tightened up and more clear and consistent, I might have enjoyed The Shadow Master a bit more, but as it is, the book feels slightly unfinished and rushed. I had pretty high hopes, but in the end this one just didn’t work very well for me.

  • Ash Wednesday
    2018-12-10 16:43

    2.5 STARS”Think of it as a matter of wife or death,” the stranger said.“What?” asked Lorenzo.The stranger sighed. “It is a play on words. You were meant to laugh. To lighten the gravity of the moment.” he said.“I don’t understand,” said Lorenzo.I second that notion.Ah this book. I have half the mind to slap this an outright 1-star rating out of sheer disappointment over the wasted potential. For a while there, this had me going with explosively glorious expectations of ***Zombies! Mechas! Zombies vs Mechas!*** only to be shot back down to below mediocrity with an obscure Faith vs Science message and an exhaustive, confusing resolution. If you can call it that.The book is set in an alternate Renaissance history where The Walled City is kept safe from the (Bubonic) plague ravaging the world by two families in conflict: The Medicis and The Lorraines. Both hold control over the trade of the curative spiced wine and coexist in tense competition, each holding the brilliant minds of Galileo Galilei and Leonardo Da Vinci under their employs. This tension combusts to open hostility when Giuliano Medici got massacred in public and his surviving brother, Cosimo, accuses The Duke of Lorraine of the crime. As one family tries to better the other, two star-crossed lovers are brought inadvertently into the heart of their feud: Lorenzo, Galileo’s apprentice and Lucia, the adoptive daughter of the Duke of Lorraine. With the help of the mysterious Shadow Master, Lorenzo and Lucia tries to find their way back to each other, surviving crazed zealots, the threat of the plagued army and an ancient magic that may yet to save civilisation.I am not really the biggest fan of Romeo and Juliet retellings so this started quite sluggishly for me. Thankfully Lorenzo and Lucia spent the entirety of the book away from each other keeping the cheese intoxication in check. This had a lot of interesting facets to its story: the feud between the bearded Medicis and the moustachioed Lorraines; the contrast between Galileo and Leonardo’s brilliance; the circumstances in the wall and the plight of the plagued; and the addition of the snarky, wisecracking Shadow Master to the plot. But somehow, all these subplots failed to fit cleanly into each other to serve the bigger story in the end.If there was one at all. The narrative was painfully choppy and I was burdened with filling in some blanks for continuity’s sake to make some sense of it all towards the end. There were too many mysterious add-on characters with very little back story and even less value to the bigger plot. I’m hopeful that this was an editing issue and there’s a Director’s/Author’s Cut lying somewhere truly deserving of the better rating I was hoping to give this book.There was a certain sly wit and humour at play but was sometimes too obscure to be identified as funny, easily dismissed instead as awful which is unfortunate. The running joke about metaphors was quite brilliant and I enjoyed seeing just how bad sex metaphors can get when one sets his or her mind to the task. He had to do the rest of the work. Her limbs were too weak. She could but lie there and let him enter her cave of wonders. Let him climb the heights of the mountain of desire. Let him try to carry them both away in the flight of the majestic moth.Um, funny and brilliant? Okay, let’s go with funny and brilliant there.This tried to incorporate as much of the historical details in Galileo’s, Leonardo’s and Savonarola’s characters in the story, to the point of forcing certain scenes (i.e. Galileo’s historical trial scene and exposition about science and faith) to fit into the overall plot which ended up sacrificing coherence. I was expecting some out-of-left-field plot twist that would explain everything, that even the hateful (view spoiler)[time travel (hide spoiler)] explanation started to feel welcome. Except it never came.Shadow Master felt like witnessing someone’s gradual descent into inebriation: how alcohol initially makes everything infinitely interesting, followed by dwindling sense and slurred language, ending with unconsciousness. The book literally finishes as though the highly drunk narrator was in mid-thought when he succumbed to sleep. Leaving you frustrated, bewildered and scratching your head.Review Copy courtesy of the publishers. Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof.Also on Booklikes.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Jolene
    2018-12-09 18:29

    **Thank you Angry Robot and Netgalley for providing this in exchange for an honest review**4.5 StarsThis is a fantasy retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Instead of the Capulets and Montagues we have the Hose of Medici and the House of Lorraine. The families have been fighting each other over the Spice trade in the Walled City. Whoever controls the Spice trade will be the most powerful family in the city. It the precious Spiced Wine that keeps the Plague at bay. No one knows how far the plague has spread, but they do know the wine has kept it outside the Walled city. Each family has a genius on their side. The Medicis have Galileo and the Lorraines have Leonardo. As he is leaving the Grand Cathedral, Giuliano Medici is assassinated. A dagger is embedded in his skull. His brother, Cosimo, is convinced this is handy work of the Lorraines. Cosimo is able to catch one of the assassins and has him brought back to the house for questioning. However, he will never be able to get any answers from the assassin.This is where the story really kicks off. It's a really interesting retelling in that the two characters playing the parts of Romeo and Juliet aren't really the main characters. They share the role of main characters with about six other people. I love how the author blended real historical figures in the story. This really had a little bit of everything in it. You have action, adventure, a little bit of romance, imaginative machines, and a pinch of magic. I loved this book. I mean really, really loved it. This will definitely end up of my reread shelf. I have a few unanswered questions,though. If not for these, I'd give this 5 stars. Maybe the answers were hinted at and I'll catch them the next time I read this. If that is the case, it shouldn't be. The questions I have were important to the story and the answers should have been obvious. Everything about this title is outstanding. The story, characters, world building, everything about it.

  • Monica
    2018-12-06 16:35

    This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews: www.avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.comThe publisher Angry Robot has a tendency to publish books that are so strange that they do not fit into any genre or preconceived notion of the boundaries of literature, and The Shadow Master is one of their strangest novels yet. This book leads the reader on a surreal journey through a world that seems to be an alternate reality version of Renaissance Italy. The plot is an unexpected retelling of the story of Romeo and Juliet, with the two young lovers being Lorenzo of house Medici and Lucia of house Lorraine. As can be expected these two houses are at war, but their methods of combat are far from orthodox. Each house employs a great scientist (one based on Galileo and the other on DaVinci) whose peculiar scientific inventions are much closer to magic, and do not follow any of the physical laws of the world as we know it. As the Lorraines and Medicis fight in the streets of the Walled City where they live, the rest of the world is ruled by complete chaos. A terrible plague ravages the world, thousands of plague victims gather outside the city gates, and many people say the Walled City is the last place in the world free of the plague’s grasp. With the world on the brink of destruction it is the work of a mysterious man, who never shows his face and seems to meld with shadows, to help guide the hand of fate, and to hopefully save the people of the Walled City from war and pestilence both. Even though I have done my best to come up with an apt description of this book, my synopsis does not even begin to explain what this book is really about. The Shadow Master is far from a romance novel, so if you are looking for an epic love story I strongly advise you to look elsewhere. Lorenzo and Lucia are very important characters, but there is very little of the book where the two of them are actually in the same place at the same time. At its heart, this book is about fate and the nature of time, which is perhaps why Cormick chose to allude to one of the most famous plays in history that shares these themes. What I did not expect when I first read the synopsis for this novel was Cormick’s dark sense of humor. This is a story filled with assassins, murders, kidnappings, and both graphic and unsettling visuals. But even in some of the darkest parts of the book I found myself laughing out loud. I guess if I would have to make up a genre for The Shadow Master it would be called acid grimdark. I absolutely love how this book ends, but I have to warn potential readers that the ending may be a bit confusing. Cormick leaves some elements of the plot up to the reader’s interpretation, and a lot of the hints about what is really happening throughout the book are rather subtle. I thought that the ending was perfect, and it actually left me a bit awestruck, but I have read some other reviews of this book and every single one of them claimed to really dislike the ending. I think that a lot of this was due to people not expecting this book to be so strange, but the absolute bizarreness of this book is part of what made me love it so much. This book is not for everyone, but I really hope that with this review I can at least convince some of you to give it a try. This is one of the best books that I’ve read this year. Overall, I would rate this book an 8.5/10. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

  • Lisa
    2018-11-19 00:31

    I think it may be more like 2.5 stars for me.Full review: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2014/0...The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick was a different read for me. It is a bit steam punk (Prepare yourself for a plethora of devices consisting of cogs! Everything and anything can be made, if you just have some cogs and a bit of wire) with some humor thrown in, and a central romance of star crossed lovers. The central premise of the story is interesting. The land has been ravaged by plague, with no one safe or immune from its devastating effects. No one that is, outside of the Walled City. Within these walls they hold the secret to keeping the plague at bay, so the fortunate people within live unmarred and healthy. But of course, that does not mean they live in harmony.Within this oasis from the plague, the people are divided between two households (the Medicis and the Lorraines) to the degree that a brief glimpse at a man’s facial hair will speak of his allegiance, which house he supports. Oh, and of course, this is a Romeo/Juliet love story, so our star-crossed lovers are from the different houses. (Brief confession here, I kept expecting to hear songs from West Side Story break out while reading).Our star crossed lovers have seemingly always caught each others eye and seek each other out from across their church or anywhere else they may cross paths. You know the, love and infatuation that is just created by some unseen chemistry that pulls these two into a tide where they are always reaching, searching, rarely finding one another. They have never even spoken, but yet they are drawn to one another. At least the attraction is mutual and not stalker-y. My main comment with the characters is that they are rather 2 dimensional. But I also think that is typical of this type of story, and really all that uncommon. Kind of like Disney movies where a maiden fair is drawn to a dashing prince; The story is more about the evolution of the magical relationship rather than the characters themselves. You get the basics, some feel for them, but nothing much beyond that.I will say I like the introduction of the Shadow Master, some mysterious figure whose allegiance is either unknown or non-existent. Without knowing his side or motivation, it keeps us guessing why he takes the actions he does and what he may do next.I also feel the second half of the book was lacking a clear focus or direction. Things kept happening, but I really didn’t get a good feel for motivations which made it just feel random. It involved ‘madmen’, and I did feel that was rather apt. Once again, I left wondering how much of what I found humorous about this book was by design. Some of his humor was too blunt for my taste, the kind of satirical humor you would find in a prime time comedy TV Show. Most people like it, but it tends to fall flat for me, not just in this, but anything like that I read (Dresden Files being a very popular example).This is a fast read, so if you are in the mood for a quick light read with a bit of steampunk Romeo/Juliet and humor, then give you could give it a shot, maybe it will work for you.

  • Deniz
    2018-11-24 19:26

    2.5 StarsLoved the world building- think the concept is an amazing idea.. but somehow this just didn't work for me.Initially when I started this, I was totally blown away by it. The idea behind the world building? Genius.The parallels between history and Shakespear's works linked with the imaginative fantasy aspect? Just mindblowing.And then.... I found myself struggling through it.I thought it's just my mood, so I set it aside. And read a couple of different books inbetween. Picked it up again... And the same thing happened. Over and over. I found it a task to finish.Again I still think the world building is fabulous. It's really quite brilliant. And my favorite part of the book. I loved all the descriptions, the links to magic...well, simply all of it. And that's why I gave this 2.5 Stars rather than 1.5.I do like the character building, in theory. In practice. I struggled. I get what Cormick was trying to convey. I did like the idea of it. But while I read it, I couldn't find myself connecting to any of the characters. Not a single one. Which for me means, somehow the character building didn't work for meThe plot, is slow pace, complicated and full of twists and turns. Though again, it is clever, I found myself being bored by it. All of this I actually put down to the writing style. It felt a bit stogy and old fashioned. Though I love flowery language, I love old liturature - and this definitely reminded me of some of my beloved classics... I missed the beauty of prose those said classics have. Then and I think this is my absolutely biggest issue there were the multiple POVs. I like multiple POV. But here I simply thing less would have been more. There are too many character voices. It took away from the story flow but also more importantly, I think it made it impossible to connect to any character.I really wish I would have like this more. I really do. But sadly it wasn't meant to be. I might one day pick up the second book.. who knows? As I said, the idea behind this? Brilliant

  • Tabby Shiflett
    2018-11-25 16:37

    A good premise but the ending is a little confusing. The first half of the book strongly reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, but with two different feuding families and a historical scientist in each corner. Both camps have pretty cool supernatural machines. Then a few interesting characters (an aging musketeer and a cult leader) are introduced. But just as the story pulled me in, I fell down the rabbit hole. The last part of the novel has lots of potential but the reader needs to have a clearer idea of what's going on (unless you prefer the rabbit hole).The cover is awesome.Net Galley Feedback

  • Tiara
    2018-12-02 00:36

    TL;DR Version:How do I rate this? Ezio didn't die so this book could live. OMG.More reviews @ The BiblioSanctumLong Version:First of all, when I first started thinking about what I was going to rate this book, this was pretty much my reaction when I was trying to decide for this because, again, I don't even know, man:I mean, this wasn't written badly, but there was just so much absurdity with flashes of brilliance that I wasn't really sure what to even make of this book. And my God, the millions of euphemisms and passages that were literally like, "That was a metaphor," (I totally understand metaphor and what the word means and implies, even bad ones). I wasn't sure if he was being serious or if he was trying to be punny or what. I pretty much lost it at phrases like "mountains of the goddess," "serpent of sin," and "towers of ivory that include playing the bone flute." And I was just mystified by passages like this:"I will save Lucia because I love her.""You dare!" said the duke almost rising from the seat in indignation."Yes, I dare," said Lorenzo softly, not meeting the Duke's eyes."Yes, he dares," said Cosimo, smiling at the way the youth had now unsettled the Duke.It almost reminded me of the "Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?" scene from Romeo and Juliet, which makes complete sense since he opens this book with a quote from Romeo and Juliet. You can see the influence everywhere. Less amusing than Shakespeare, though, considering the thumb scene makes absolute sense in that play. This had me raising my eyebrows and giving it the same look I give my children when I am not amused.I think maybe he was trying to be like those type of writers who can masterfully inject wry humor into their mostly serious stories, but it doesn't fit together well. Maybe he was being perfectly serious with all this, though, and in that case, I have to say:I don't know if many books have ever made me feel so confused and made me question my purpose in life more than this one. I love strange books, but it still needs to make sense in its own bizarre way, though. It would be easy if I could say I really hated it, I really loved it, or I was just "meh" about it. I don't know how I even feel about this book except I didn't really like the romance. I'm not a big fan of Romeo and Juliet type romances and most people seem to miss the bigger picture of Romeo and Juliet and think it's some great romance we all should aspire to have. Spoiler: It's not.I really wanted to like this book. I mean, there are parts I really like for about the first 50% of the book, and then it's like this book just completely lost its mind at that point, pushing me to the verge of insanity with it. All these things going on, none of it barely connecting or coming together to make any sense, and what is that ending? WHAT. IN. THE. ENTIRE. HELL. IS. THAT. ENDING?At least I got to use an abundance of disgusted Jay-Z and Beyonce faces while I was tweeting about this book. That was the best part of this whole book."He would be docking in her harbour, as they liked to call it, when together this evening." #amreading #books pic.twitter.com/UnpObyONZ8— Champion of Aries (@digitaltempest) May 9, 2015"...and the other took hold of his serpent of sin and held it up for the torturer." #amreading #books pic.twitter.com/LtRTajG5MW— Champion of Aries (@digitaltempest) May 9, 2015Just go play Assassin's Creed II (or read the wiki for it or watch it on YouTube if you can't do games) because basically... I don't know about this one, guys.Please, God, don't let the second book confuse me so. Please be kind to me. I did nothing to deserve such ruin.

  • Althea Ann
    2018-12-01 19:32

    In an alternate Renaissance (one that’s not so re-birth-y), one city holds out against the hordes of desperate plague victims outside its walls. Within, two families vie for power – each employing a rival scientist. Leonardo and Galileo put their minds and science (which looks a lot like magic) to work on holding back the dread plague, and inventing gadgets. So far, both have refused to create weapons of war. The balance of power is delicate, the remedies that hold back the disease are losing efficacy, and it looks like humanity may well be doomed. Against this backdrop, a scientist's apprentice, Lorenzo, falls in love with the daughter of the rival family, Lucia. Lucia becomes a pawn in a plot involving control of the city. Lorenzo is distraught – but a mysterious assassin-like figure who seems to be possessed of great knowledge and skills appears and tells him that in order to save Lucia he must first save civilization…The background setting for this was original and entertaining. I liked the whole steampunk-renaissance-with-plague-hordes concept. However, I felt like it didn’t live up to its full potential. The story itself was rather prosaic, with a few too many familiar tropes. However, it was still pretty entertaining – up until the end. It felt like the author got to the home stretch, suddenly said, “Wait! I didn’t explain anything! I have bits in here that don’t make much sense!” and went to extreme lengths to quickly cobble together a far-fetched and ridiculous excuse for the whole scenario which involves bringing in whole new levels of plot that weren’t previously even hinted at – and still don’t really make that much sense.Still – it’s pretty decent up until the very end.Copy provided by NetGalley! Thanks to Angry Robot for allowing me to read this book!

  • Yzabel Ginsberg
    2018-12-10 00:39

    [I got an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Text is liable to change in parts upon publishing.]I'll admit I'm not quite sure yet what to make of this book, so for once, I'm going to make up my mind as I write my review.The story's set in an alternate Renaissance setting, in which the Medici and Lorraine families compete within the Walled City for the monopoly on a spice able to keep the plague out. While in other parts of the country, plague-infected people are dying by dozens, those in the city worry more about the political schemes of the two families, carried by the inventions of Galileo and Leonardo. The one controls time through clever devices; the other controls weather and has developed a science of metamorphosis. Amidst the tensions, Lucia Lorraine, the Duke's daughter, and Lorenzo, apprenticed to Galileo and ward of the Medici, just want to be free to let their young love blossom, all too conscious that it could never happen unless they eloped or found another way.There are lots of hints to well-known plots and historical events and people here. Renaissance Italy, the great inventors, Shakespeare's plays (Romeo and Juliet comes to mind, of course, and the Duchess definitely has something of Lady Macbeth to her)... Mostly they're easy to catch, though missing them would mean missing on some finer aspects of the novel. It didn't lack a touch of humour either, and I found myself smiling more than once, because it was just the right amount for me, without derailing the story. The part with the cook's assistant and the pie later delivered made me laugh, for its sheer "what the hell" aspect. The inventions were brilliant, and I liked that this strange science, poised between our own and sorcery, had drawbacks, such as making people grow older, faster, or turning them to stone. No such power should ever be totally free to wield.The novel's more plot-driven than character-driven. It worked for me, due to the context, the many winks to history and plays, and the city setting (I much prefer fantasy within enclosed spaces, than "travel fantasy"); on the other hand, a reader won't find deep psychological profiles here. I found the writing style efficient, able to carry vivid descriptions—the Walled City felt like a character itself, and I had no problem when it came to imagining it. However, the book could do with a last round of proof reading. There were a few typos and missing words now and then, noticeable enough that I couldn't help but make a mental note about those. (This being an ARC copy, those typos may be fixed once the official publishing date rolls in.)While the first part of the story was really entertaining, I thought the second one was a little confusing, in that I was left with more than just a couple of questions about who was who and what exactly happened. If those answers were hidden somewhere, then I'm afraid I missed them. What about the Medici and the Lorraine at the end? Was a new order meant to happen, or not? Who exactly were the Nameless One and the Shadow Master? (view spoiler)[At some point, I had that theory that the Master was part of Lorenzo's mind only, that he didn't really exist and was a way for the young man to find his place in the world, but it seems I was wrong. I also wondered if the Nameless One's wife wasn't Cosimo's mother, but no father was ever mentioned, so I guess I was wrong again. (hide spoiler)] I'm not positive I fully "got it". It may be intentional, in order to leave the readers come up with their own conclusions and interpretations, but in this case, it was a little too vague to my liking.3 to 3.5 stars, because I liked it no matter what.

  • Liezl Ruiz
    2018-11-16 23:50

    If I were to narrate my progess in parts while reading this book, it will be like assessing my mental state: introduction - bored (really really bored), 30% into the story - curious (the Shadow Master has finally come! Ooops, spoiler), 55% - interested (when erotica is concerned), 75% (rising action) - stoic, ending - whatever. There's some sort of a plot twist in the end and I'm not even the least bit affected. It's like Dark City meets Fight Club minus the awe. There are no moments of ooohs and ahhhs for some surprises. How am I even supposed to be surprised when this book doesn't even evoke some emotions (save for that 55% I'm talking about).This is a book of alternative history, making use of Galileo and Leonardo, set on the Enlightenment period that uses parallelism with that of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, with two warring merchant families— the Lorraines and the Medicis. Lorenzo, an apprentice of Galileo at the employ of the Medicis, and Lucia, the adopted daughter of Duke and Duchess Lorraines are the two star-crossed lovers, the foci of the story.I really love the japanese anime, Attack on Titans that I should feel giddy with this book—what with the same concept of a Walled City but instead of giants or titans, you have the walking army of malformed people outside the walls. The plague has swept throughout Europe that cities have fallen, and people suffer from deformities and inevitable death. Only one city is left standing, the renowned Walled City. Across the seas, none bears the concern that Europe has that they don't know how crucial the spices they're trading are to the people running from the plague. With such premises, I should have been intrigued but I was only enveloped with impassiveness. When I first read the book, I don't know what the war is all about or if there's a greater war than a war between two Houses, The Lorraines and The Medicis, and a war against the plague. I was anxious for some action and then 30% into the story, there he was... the Shadow Master. I really love the cover. There's an Assassin's Creed feel to it. But reading the book, I think that it lacked something. It lacked the air of mystery. Halfway in the book and I still don't have a clear idea what kind of atmosphere the author was trying to convey. I think that overall, the book was very much stoic in tone. It was really stoic until... The Nameless One (the venerable among the deathseekers or elite assassins) thought of Lucia in place of his wife while making love to her. That really peaked my interest. I clicked the request button for an ARC from AngryRobot via netgalley because of the badass cover, not even pausing to read the synopsis and never thinking that there's a romantic touch to it or erotica for that matter. Somehow, it was on this part of the story that I couldn't put down the book anymore.The people in this book live in metaphor, propelled by metaphors and killed by metaphors. I don't know if people in Europe during the Enlightenment is very much concerned with metaphors because somehow this book is scrambling for metaphors. But if there's one thing the author was successful at with metaphors, I have to say that part where The Nameless One made love with his wife.The Shadow Master is a very serious book with a bit of humor. If only the author was consistent with putting humor throughout the whole book without breaking its seriousness (like what Michael J. Sulliman did for The Riyria Chronicles), this would have been a very successful book.NightofSnow

  • Amber
    2018-11-23 16:38

    It's like if Assassin's Creed: Renaissance & Romeo and Juliet had a baby.It felt like Renaissance steampunk, if that's even a thing.Honestly, I liked this book but could only give it a 2 star rating. Maybe, 2.5? I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. I enjoyed some aspects of the book, but overall it was just okay.The whole story was confusing, especially the true identities of most of the characters. I kept thinking that the prodigious details would eventually weave into an elaborate and satisfying tale, but sadly that never happened. The ending was lackluster and frankly, a huge bummer.I could see where the author wanted to go, and the concept seemed interesting to me (at first). It was overtly vague and choppy which only accomplished to keep me in a state of puzzlement from start to finish.*I received this copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review, and opinions are mine alone.

  • Bibliotropic
    2018-11-10 16:37

    (Full review here: http://bibliotropic.net/2014/06/04/th...)The stage is set for a complex story with plenty of potential for some epic events! Unfortunately, most of the things that did interest me as I read this book happened rather randomly and appear out of nowhere. Few explanations and little follow-up did a lot to turn things from “very interesting” to “a jumbled mess.”Still, there is a good amount of potential within The Shadow Master, and since this is only the first book of a series, I will give it a bit of a pass on not providing clear explanations to everything. There’s every chance that it was all meant to be a hook for later novels, however awkward those hooks may have been. I think, when it comes down to it, that the world Cormick set up turned out to be more interesting than the stories told within it.

  • Isis
    2018-11-17 20:53

    I would like to thank NetGalley & Angry Robot for granting me the opportunity to read this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. I give this book 2.5 stars, but in systems that only allow whole numbers I'm not comfortable rounding up, so it will get 2 stars.In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.Wow. What to say about this book? This story had so many different things going on that at times I felt lost, not necessarily understanding the relationships or motivations of some of the players. Clearly there are many themes during the Renaissance period that have been approached with a truckload of artistic license. Examples include the feuding between the Medicis and the Lorraines, (possibly a reference to the House of Lorraine?), a spin off of Romeo and Juilette, the Walled City, the High Priest Savonarola, and naming a pivotal Councilman Sforza. But then who are the Nameless One and the Shadow Master supposed to be a riff on?This book does take a bit of effort to read in the beginning, but once you've read maybe 10 percent it gets easier to make sense of all the different threads being woven in to create the greater story. Yet it remained somewhat of a challenge for me, based upon my rough knowledge of history, as seen below.The Medicis sponsor Galileo, while the Lorraines sponsor Leonardo (despite what the Goodreads blurb above states). They never give last names, but clearly are referring to Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci. The two ruling Houses are constantly trying to supplant the other and take complete control of the city, totally disregarding the City Councilmen and their City Guard. They each try to gain advantage by using devices that their resident inventors create. Yet both Galileo and Leonardo refuse to invent/remake anything that the 'ancients' created - anything warlike, for they believe that is how all the knowledge of the ancients was lost. Yet some of the machines of the ancients are also references to works by Galileo and Leonardo, but that may make sense in light of the the ending.There is an attack on the two Medici brothers early on which took place while they were leaving church. That could almost be lifted straight out of history books, for there was once a conspiracy to depose the family by killing Lorenzo and his younger brother Giuliano during Easter services. Both assassination attempts, real and fictional, ended the same. In retaliation Cosimo hires the Nameless One to kidnap and hold the Lorraines' only child, a daughter named Lucia. And here is where things begin to get a bit strange, for I don't know what to make of the Nameless One throughout the entire book.Meanwhile the rest of the world is being ravage by a deadly plague. The Walled City is the only plague-free place left known in the modern world. The Walled City was most likely Verona, particularly as that was one of the two settings for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juiliette, which is clearly used as the model for the relationship between Lorenzo, who is Medici-sponsored Galileo's assistant, and Lorraines' daughter, Lucia.Since the Walked City is rumored to be plague-free, it becomes a Mecca for all those with the plague. There is a daily lottery to allow a few of the hundreds of supplicants into the City. The plague itself is possibly meant to reflect something else on another level, and all I can come up with is a sending from God (based upon my very loose interpretation of the end of the book). What is being done to those that win the lottery to enter the Walled City is another mystery to me. Again I am sure that there is more going on here than I am getting, but what it makes me think of is The Island of Doctor Moreau. Maybe I'm reaching, but that's where my mind went upon reading some passages.Of course between the two ruling Houses battling for supremacy, the City Guard being overwhelmed by the growing number of plague victims gathering at the gates, we also have a crazed religious faction to deal with. And it certainly seems that the character is based upon friar Savonarola. Granted that is the name of the Church's High a Priest, but in one of his final scenes something happens that runs perilously close to the real Savonarola, who later in life (and under torture) confessed his visions and prophecies were made up and was put to a 'trial by fire.'One of his alycotes, Councilman Sforza, turned traitor. Of course in reality the Sforza family was at one point against the Medici family, then married into it later on, and in reality one of the Sforza's one took in Leonardo da Vinci for a time. So much back and forth between fiction and fact that I found myself getting confused, even when things weren't taking place in the correct era.There are plenty of humorous moments, and silly suggestions, such as Duke Lorraine thinking to himself that someday, when the strife is behind them, he could get Leonardo to paint a portrait of his beautiful Lucia and her mysterious smile. And the metaphors are often entertaining, especially if you've ever read a romance novel or two. Finally, some new metaphors for the genitalia of both genders - and they are funny!I don't completely understand the end of this book. I feel sure that there is something more going on in the end between the Shadow Man, Lorenzo, and Lucia, than is explained. Sadly my mind is drawing a blank at the moment, other than thinking it may be referencing a religious event or two. Certainly the changes in the city speak to a higher event, but I'll hold my pen so as not to spoil it for you. I find that I am left wondering what the real meaning of the ending is meant to be? Is it whatever we takeaway? Or are we supposed to draw parallels for different events and therefore get a deeper meaning? If so, I'm sorry to say I failed.

  • Mieneke
    2018-12-06 18:33

    Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;- William Shakespeare - Romeo and Juliet, PrologueThe cover copy for The Shadow Master called to mind Shakespeare’s prologue to Romeo and Juliet, quoted partially above, immediately and with the invocation of the names of the Medicis, the Lorraines, Leonardo and Galileo created certain expectations about the nature of the book. I expected an alternate history and a romance and while there was truth in advertising, at the same time my expectations were disappointed. There is far less of a Shakespearean influence in the story than I expected and the book wasn’t so much as alt-history as much as a story told with certain historical characters and events dropped in to invoke a certain sensibility.This resulted in me having a tough time getting grounded within the story. It was clearly set in a Renaissance, Italianate city and the inside of the Walled City is clearly developed. Yet everything outside of the Walled City is covered in mist, it is the great Beyond and not much is revealed about it. This spare world-building is perhaps symbolic for the way most of the City's inhabitants have been cloistered in the city and have never travelled beyond and as such truly do not know what the world outside looks like. Looking back it was quite cleverly constructed, but while I was reading, I just felt confused. This general ignorance of the world beyond the walls also felt forced given the time frame set up for the plague that has penned everyone inside the City’s walls. According to the text the plague is rumoured to last for eight years and has been running rampant across the land for six, so how did knowledge of the outside evaporate like this?Setting aside my problems with the setting, I really enjoyed my time spent with The Shadow Master. The dynamic between the two families was interesting and I loved the rivalry – that wasn’t really one – between Leonardo and Galileo. There were also some fun nods to some of their real historic works and inventions. I especially loved the way Cormick incorporated The Vitruvian Man in the story. The idea that magic is as much artifice as it is alchemical was intriguing, especially considering that one doesn’t need to have any nebulous aptitude, but just have a rigorous mind. Additionally, here is magic that isn’t without cost. It’ll be interesting to see if this magic system will be transferred to the next book or if Cormick creates a different one.My favourite character in the book was Lucia. The only daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, she’s beloved and sheltered and dying to break out. Over the years she’s formed a connection with one of the ward’s of the Medici family and she wants nothing more than to be able to pursue their relationship. However sheltered she is, Lucia isn’t a wilting flower. When she’s kidnapped and imprisoned she doesn’t weep and wail, she doesn’t let despair cripple her, she plans and takes her fate into her own hands. I loved Lucia’s self-reliance and quick thinking. Her romeo Lorenzo was interesting as well, though I found him less compelling than Lucia. He’s a bit more on an accidental hero type and does things he knows are wrong, all to satisfy his own desire to see Lucia. Yet despite all this he’s a very sympathetic character and I found myself rooting for him regardless of his unwise choices.The Shadow Master ends on a huge twist, didn’t make for a cliff hanger ending exactly, but did leave the reader to contemplate a mystery and wondering about the true nature of the Shadow Master. While there were some hints at this turn of events during the book it felt a bit abrupt. Still the core story of The Shadow Master was resolved in a quite satisfying manner and as such the book stands on its own quite well. Despite my qualms I enjoyed The Shadow Master and I’m looking forward to The Floating City to discover more about the true nature of Lucia, Lorenzo and The Shadow Master.This book was provided for review by the publisher.

  • Chelsea Herondale
    2018-11-14 21:26

    ACTUAL RATING: 2.5 stars ( I received this arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review) The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick, is a fantasy re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. However, as cool as that sounds, I was not aware of this until someone, who had previously read the book, pointed it out. Which proves that this aspect of the book could have been described a lot better. I was also not completely satisfied with the characters and setting. I was constantly getting confused and had to re-read a page several time before wrapping my head around it. I got confused with who is who and what character is on what side. By the end of the book, this was resolved slightly but I was still not happy with the way things were explained. 75% of the notes I made whilst reading this were notes like: "so who's this?" Or "AHH this is confusing." On the other hand, the other 25% of my notes were things like "hahahaha" there were infact some funny parts in the story but some were weird and didn't make sense. This writing style also left me confused and at some points I felt as though nothing was happening but at other points I thought too much was happening. Overall, this book was okay but could be improved. I feel as though a first person point of view would have been less confusing but appreciate the way the book has been written all the same.

  • Paul Decker
    2018-12-03 20:43

    **I was provided an edvanced ecopy of this book by ANGRY ROBOT via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review** I like the ambiguity that goes along with the worldbuilding in The Shadow Master. Is it really an alternate history? Or is it somehow a future world rebuilding the past? When a book brings forth so many questions in the reader's mind, it is either super frustrating or awe inspiring. This book is the latter. I wanted to know so much more than was on the page.The second half of this book does take a turn for a different vibe, though. It is strange. Strange isn't always bad and I don't know how exactly I feel about the strangeness of the ending of this novel. I did enjoy it though. It just was very unexpected. If you are a fan of unique stories that don't fit into the box of modern genre books, you should definitely try this book out! I give this book a 4/5.

  • edifanob
    2018-11-10 21:37

    That was not the book I expected after reading the description.There was too much romance for me. The story did not captivate me. There was not even one character I liked.There have been some scenes I liked.I read the whole always hoping for something good. There have been some scenes I liked. Without them I would not have finished the book.It seems this has been a meeting of the wrong book and the right reader or vice versa.In the end it is up to you to decide if you like the book or not.Anyway I recommend to read an excerpt before you decide to give it a try or not.

  • Kdawg91
    2018-11-20 17:34

    I loved the setting of this, and the writing was top notch, that being said, after a great start it loses me midway through. But in my eyes, the writing and setting saves it so I only dock it one star.Recommended read, (yes, there will be several shorter type reviews than usual, I may lose my net for a week or so, I am kind of clearing the queue so to speak)

  • Jasper
    2018-11-29 16:31

    originally posted at: http://thebookplank.blogspot.com/2014...When I was presented with a list of books that Angry Robot was publishing, I was immediately drawn by the cover of the book, doesn't that catch everyone's appeal? Reading the synopsis of The Shadow Master completely won me over, I like reading historical fantasy, especially set in the era of two of the greatest scientists ever. Leonardo and Galileo. add to this a plot line of assasinations and two warring families, what more do you want for an exciting read? The Shadow Master is written by Craig Cormick, though it is not his debut, as he he written various stories before, The Shadow Master is his first venture in the fantasy genre, and he does a very nice job at it!The first thing that falls to note in The Shadow Master is the setting that Craig Cormick introduces the reader to. From above the names of Leonardo and Galileo shouldn't have escaped you, the story takes place in a Italy at around the Renaissance time, but nothing that has been described in the history books so far. It takes definitely more than just naming historical figures to make the setting of a book come to life, and this is exactly what Craig Cromick does very well. In building his world he doesn't rely on historical figures alone but when describing the surroundings of the world and the characters that inhabit it, they feel very real. This is definitely a strong point to the book as the narration and the writing style is very clear and clean. From the beginning of the book there is a nice pace that continues all the way until the end and it was for me just impossible to put this book down. Solid writing style. The story itself takes place mostly in the famed Walled City. People live withing the Walled City to keep safe from the bubonic plague that still haunts the outside of the city. The survivors of the plague, or let me rephrase that, the infected linger at the city walls posing a constant threat for the people that live inside. Within the Walled City there are two opposing families, The Medicis and the Lorraines, that constantly fight for power and control. Before several events they weren't really fighting more powerplay and politics, but just after leaving a Cathedral on of the family members of the Medicis, Giuliano Medici, is assassinated with a dagger in his back. immediately all the fingers are pointed towards the Lorraine family, who else would want and would dare to kill a well respect person? Giuliano's brother, Cosimo swears for revenge. But it soon proves that wanting and getting revenge isn't the same thing. Next to this you have a different storyline that focuses on two other members of the rival houses and which storyline imposes a view of the classic story of Romea and Juliet, but instead of their appearances you have Lucia Lorraine and Lorenzo, apprentice to Galileo, who in turn serves the house of Medici, I bet you can see where this is going. With the death of Giuliano, there frequency of being able to meet it drastically changed and both have to certain limits to be able to say hi to each other. But this all combined is only the start of a much bigger problem as two shadowy figure with a pronounced presence make an appearance, The Shadow Master and The Nameless One. In the end you will learn that both stories make up something, much, much bigger. This is the first story that I have read in a long time that shows a very nice depicting of the classical Romeo and Juliet theme. I have to give it to Craig Cormick that he created some very interesting and emotional characters when it came down to both Lucia and Lorenzo. They both are shown with the classic elements of their "predecessors" but have enough voice of their own to let them come out and shine. Lucia is the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine and normally those kind of young women are shown as brats as they have everything and are able to live the life of luxury. Lucia is in this way quite different, there is an important part in the story where something happens to her and instead of just sitting there and let destiny happen to her, she picks up her courage and decides to take her fate into her own hands. The same counts for Lorenzo, he also has to face a lot of challenges to overcome some of his own weaknesses. It's great to see the characters were build like this, though it was a bit predictable, you just cant go wrong with showing Lucia and Lorenzo this way in the backdrop of a classic Romeo and Juliet story. What really makes the story cool in my opinion were the introductions of The Shadow Master himself and The Nameless One, these shadowy presences really provoke you to think about what they really are and what they can do. If you thought that the city was rules by the houses of Medici and Lorraine, think again, much higher presences take to the stage here and seems that many people are being played into certain direction. I liked that Craig Cormick put a nice amount of time and focus on these presences, you learn a few things but there are some many unanswerable questions raised. And with this Craig Cormick also leaves the ending of The Shadow Master on quite the cliffhanger. Making you wish that you had the sequel already at hand! The Shadow Master is not your standard cup of tea but is just the book that I have come to learn that Angry Robot pubilshes, daring new ideas, often pretty bold but they do seem to work very well in the end, and in this The Shadow Master is no exception. The Shadow Master is one of the best written books that I have come across in a long time when you look at the narration and writing style that Craig Cormick uses it is just impossible to let this book down for just a few minutes. The whole idea behind the story of The Shadow Master again is something that I haven't enountered in a long while, yes I read fairy tale adaptations but a retelling of Romeo and Juliet wasn't something that I had dared to imagine. And lets above all not forget the ever presence of two of histories most adapt inventors: Da Vinci and Galileo. Pretty cool and Craig Cormick really knows how to build the right setting for the occasion. I have high hopes for the sequel.

  • Saruuh Kelsey
    2018-11-28 16:48

    4.5 starsThat ending! Now I HAVE to read the next book just to get some answers. There was so much to like about this - fantasy that's compelling and intricate without being dense and so slooooow like a lot of other fantasy I've tried lately. Plus great characters with secrets upon secrets, famous faces, and shock upon shock within the story itself. So good.My only issue isn't with the book. My copy had A TONNE of errors and typos that I presume won't have made it to the final copy. Since I bought it directly from Angry Robot's website, and it wasn't a galley, I was pretty surprised by this.

  • Liz C
    2018-12-05 23:54

    Very goodThis is a fun read. Good characters with lots of action. Not sure what you would class it as, fantasy or renaissance steam punk with hints of assassin's creed. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys that sort of thing and I have already downloaded the next one.

  • Caleb Hill
    2018-11-16 18:49

    “Never enter into a battle that you have not already won.”There is a war between the two great Houses of the Walled City. The wealthy Medici’s fight for control of the spice trade against the Duke and his family, the Lorraines. Lines are drawn in the populace by a simple glance at your facial hair. Helping further their patrons, Galileo Galilei and Leonardo Da Vinci perform a battle of wits, creating technologies that function like magic. And caught between the two are the star-crossed lovers Lorenzo and Lucia.But unseen forces are controlling the city. A priest commands an underground cult to cleanse the land. A Shadow Master works his magic at the most opportune of times. And a plague army marches on the last bastion of humanity.If anything, Cormick has imagination. He helps bring this alternate Italian world to life with actual historical events that help strengthen the story; it doesn’t do much to help the ending. But I’m getting ahead of myself.The real star of the show is his humor.“’Tar my bung hole and use me for a keg!’”Any book that opens with this is bound to have its fair share of laughs. And from back and forths between the Duke and his wife to the madmen strolling through the street, this story was chock full of laughs. However, I’m not sure how much of this was intentional. I like to think the author intended this to be satire, evident by the smartest man in the cast, the Shadow Master. I think he’s the only san man in a world of madmen, even if his riddle tongue makes you disagree.He was always one step ahead of everybody, didn’t care for the metaphors of the city, and talked as a plain speaking foreigner. I like to think he was what the author envisioned as the reader, because the plot is predictable and the flowering metaphors make my eyes bleed.They have the same effect on our lovely string puller. Staying on this train of satire, Cormick does a fine job of presenting us the un-romanticized version of Romeo and Juliet. He presents us the fallacy of teenage infatuation in Lorenzo’s forgetfulness, their almost bland attraction to each other that can only be committed to hormones, and Lucia’s eventual stumblings that lead to her kidnapping. I mean, only an idiot screams out in the middle of the night for her secret lover and expects to find him hiding in her tower.Another thing I fell for was the interesting premises. In Cormick’s world, science is very much like magic. Leonardo’s flying machine turns you into an eagle when you don its harness. Galileo’s telescope pushes you to where you look. But they don’t want to push the envelope for fear of bringing down ruin like the ancients did. Which begs the question: Are the ancients the Greeks and Romans, or us? Food for thought.But while it may take a second to adjust to the style and underhanded quips at society, it takes a lot to understand the repetitious beginning. As I said, both ends are pretty jumbled. The first few chapters reek of telling us what is going on rather than letting us see for ourselves. The dialogue is rigid. And heaven help you with the awkward metaphors. They deserve a list of their own. But as time goes by, the pacing picks up, and we’re presented with a decent story.“’Think of it as a matter of wife or death,’ the stranger said.‘What?’ asked Lorenzo.The stranger sighed. ‘It is a play on words. You were meant to laugh. To lighten the gravity of the moment,’ he said.‘I don’t understand,’ said Lorenzo.”Unfortunately, I do.I know a few people have said that at about the middle is where things start to lose focus, but I didn’t have this problem until the last 10 percent. Maybe I was expecting it. Whatever the case may be, Cormick needs to work on creating a clear, concise ending. An explosion of ideas, while nice, does not excuse this train wreck.I think the biggest reason he failed is because he put all his energy into action scenes. But the man doesn’t know how to write an action scene. He gets excited, loses his train of thought, tries to find it through exposition and metaphors, and then fails to edit that loss of immersion out. The ideas become cluttered, and that’s something he really needs to work on. He’s got a nice premise; he just needs to hone his craft and slow down.What he really needs is a good edit. And I think this book shows the current deterioration of Angry Robots novels. A nice cover and blurb doesn’t make me gloss over the many editing mistakes. But that’s not solely their fault either.If Cormick can settle down in his second book and find a clear vision, I’m sure he’ll have a great page-turner. He just needs to calm down and work on the court intrigue and humor, not the knife fights.“His mother had known it in him early in his life and told family that he had a heart of gold – though she meant the metaphor to mean it was cold, yellow and hard to find.”*I was given this ARC for my honest review.*

  • OpenBookSociety.com
    2018-11-22 16:41

    http://openbooksociety.com/article/th...Brought to you by OBS reviewer OmarThe Shadow Master was interesting. Sometimes, science and magic are the same thing, but other times they are not.As you can see in the summary, The Shadow Master is a representation of Romeo and Juliet. But in The Shadow Master, Craig Cormick gives a new spin to the tale where the love of Lorenzo and Lucia is more powerful than the love that Romeo and Juliet had. There is more to the fight for between the Medici and the Lorraines and there is a plague that devastates the world making people desperate to do anything for a cure.I liked the story’s idea which the author presents as new and old at the same time. It might be the same setting, but the characters are very different from the ones they were based on. Lucia fights until the end for her love, and I believe she wouldn’t try to kill herself if Lorenzo were to die. Another thing is that both Lorenzo and Lucia are eighteen years old, older than Romeo and Juliet in the original story.The Shadow Master also has several side stories. One being Leonardo and Galileo whom are the genius ones of the two families. One creates objects which make time go slower; claws that can climb walls; and legs to jump higher. The other one, creates inventions that allow the human the ability of metamorphosis making them able to fly, dig, and swim like an animal. These two characters are the pillars that hold the balance between the families war.The stories of Duke Lorraines and Cosimo Medici, respectively, are also as interesting and sad at the same time. Cosimo, with the death and shadow of his brother, as for the Duke with his marriage with the duchess which they are far from happy, but neither wants to accept it. It changes from one POV to another. But in the end we don’t hear much from the character that has the answers: the Shadow Master.The setting seems to be Italy once again as the characters speak the language, but the time is not quite established. It appears that the world was devastated by the bubonic plague, but this plague has come and gone through its history. The story tells of ancient science capable of great things but mechanic objects are mentioned as well. The time period is never clear; it can be years in the past or after our own time.I did have trouble with the timeline. It was not difficult to follow it, but events taking place at the same time seemed to not be at that time at all. For example; an event that looked like it took three days to accomplish was in the same time span as one that took a day. It was confusing. Maybe because there was hardly a way to tell night from day.I liked the cover, it looked like it would give the story away but at the same time not at all. The Walled city that appears in the cover reminded me of the Vatican City, another hint of Italy, only that there is no water near the Vatican.There are a few amusing scenes, like the acolytes, which were not smart but they provided a few laughs in their scenes and on their last moments, Lucia also provided an amusing thought:“Thank you. You have saved me.” The words came out in a stammer.He looked back to her and he said, “I have saved you to be my bride. I have watched you from afar many times Lucia Lorraine, and imagined it. Leonardo will make you wings too and together we shall rule over this world.” She closed her eyes. Where was it written that she had to be incessantly kidnapped by crazed men? And she recalled the saying about beautiful women having to bear a greater burden in the madness of men than any burden that men ever bore in bearing the whims of a beautiful woman. She would write such aphorisms about men’s madness if only she survived this day, she resolved.”The story does have several chapters but they turn out to be short. The plot might start a little boring but as it progresses you want to keep going just to find out how everything will be resolved. What I couldn’t understand was Lorenzo and Lucia’s butterflies, and the shadow master. Again, it’s time. The time span is what I can’t understand within the stories. The plot, I do, but the time, no. Craig Cormick has another book called Time Vandals, could it be that I need to first read that book to understand this one?I recommend you to read The Shadow Master, a story that takes an adventure where love is the key for everything; happiness, justice, revenge, and always does what is better for the everyone. Read of a land lost to diseases and a battle for power where there is more than just two adversaries but much more hidden in the shadows.What do you think of the Shadow Master? Comment and let us know.*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*

  • Lynn Williams
    2018-11-28 19:48

    2.5 ratinghttp://lynnsbooks.wordpress.com/2014/...Just finished reading The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick. I must confess that I've come away from this book feeling utterly puzzled. And not really in a positive way to be honest! However, let's not get ahead of ourselves.This book has got such a great premise. Set in an alternative Italy, historical in nature and revolving around two families at war and a pair of star crossed lovers - sound familiar at all? Yes, the main pair are clearly based on Romeo and Juliet. The plot has strange magical devices and throws into the mix Leonardo and Gallileo - two great inventors who work not only on their scientific creations but on keeping peace between the opposing families. On top of this we have a strange fanatical religious sect and a world rife with the plague.The Medici and Lorraine family run the show. The spices they import help to keep the plague at bay for the inhabitants of this walled city. But both of the families seek ultimate control over the other and their rivalry turns to war after one of the Medici brothers is killed by assassins. Obviously the Lorraines are the chief suspects and so begins a game of maneuvering with a third party, the Shadow Master, contriving to play his own game whilst sitting at the centre of everything pulling everyone's strings and directing the course of events like a spider sat in the middle of a web. Now on top of that we have the unfortunate lovers - not really destined to be together when their families are at war or maybe they're exactly what's needed to save everyone!There is just so much to like about this book. Such a lot going on. It's certainly a fast read and don't even get me started about covers. So why didn't I love this book? The thing is I very rarely write negative reviews because I don't often finish a book if I'm not enjoying it so in that respect this book did hold me to the pages until the very end - which is a positive! I think the things that prevented me from enjoying this book were. The romance didn't work for me. I wasn't convinced by the love the two characters felt in fact it was like being told they're passionate but not really being shown on the page. On top of that, the love making scenes were simply bizarre. I can't really explain it any better without giving away spoilers but some of the terminology just made my eyes pop or made me cringe a little. The strange thing is I have a horrible feeling that I'm simply missing something and that the constant reference to metaphors and the use of such odd descriptions should mean something more to me but frankly they don't and they didn't. I just can't help feeling that I'm missing something fundamental or maybe that certain elements were meant to inject humour but it didn't quite work out for me in that way - that's the thing with humour though the same thing won't appeal to everyone. It also felt a little like there was just too much going on. Now, this certainly adds to the entertainment value and keeps you a bit on pins and wanting to read on to solve the mystery but it also detracts a little bit from the world building and the characterisation. I think on reflection there wasn't a single character in this book that I actually engaged with or really cared for. Nor did I actively dislike any - even the crazy baddies! On top of that I've finished the book and I really can't put my finger on what has actually happened or why. I'm sure there's a next in series and maybe it will all become clear at that point but for now I don't understand so much of what took place and the conclusion of the story didn't help with this. I mean, what was the significance of what was going on beneath the city in the labyrinthe of tunnels? Other than to add a horror element to the story?I give in - I just felt a lot of things didn't work for me personally so whilst I was desperately reading on trying to find out what was happening I don't feel I ever reached any sort of conclusions. Now, like I said, the next in the book could solve all of that but that won't be a book for me I fear. I just didn't really feel this gelled for me but it could work for you and I would certainly be interested in having some light shed upon the events here.Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book. The above is my own opinion.

  • Rudi Opperman
    2018-11-21 23:42

    Very entertaining. A mix of few genres.

  • Babel
    2018-12-07 19:40

    I love it when in a concise, but powerful way a character is brought to life even if it's going to be snuffed out too soon. That accomplishment is possible thanks to a well-applied context, some endearing personality thrown in the details, and emotional drama. The first chapter includes all that and opens the appetite for more.First reviewed on Literaria sede-literaria.blogspot.comThe writing style is vivid, strong, and also beautifully poetic when it has to be. Alas, the tale it tells is neither soft nor pretty. It's the harsh account of an even harsher time in the Walled City. A parallel Florence, in Italy, where magical science collides with ruthless families striving for power. The Medici and the Lorraine Houses strive to rise towers that show off their authority in the only city safe from the plague. Torture and violence run rampant in the streets when their rivalry breaks loose.While cloak-and-dagger conspiracies take place from both sides, espionage and hatred war against each other. Galileo, Leonardo, Cosimo Medici are historical figures that take central stage in this adventurous, mortally dangerous tour-de-force that's filled with clever dialogue, dark emotions, secretive vendettas, and willful characters.The young characters drive an important and magical part of the plot. Lorenzo, apprentice to Galileo, desires to rise above his station and prove his intellect. Lucia, raised under the patronage of the Duke of Lorraine, craves freedom from her tower and the ugly shadow of war. Together, they defy what's acceptable. Another very interesting and dashing figure is that of a deathseeker who is more than he seems. Actually, the whole array of characters is wildly colourful and engaging.Fast-paced and rich in events, one scene after another brings new discoveries. It was very entertaining to know about the half-scientific, half-magical inventions of Leonardo, or the underground politics ruling everyone's acts. Despite the encroaching threat of the plague that surrounds the city in its vice-like grip, there is also a light tone sometimes that adds satirical fun to the reading.One particular thing rattled me a bit. The characters' obsession with metaphors or their lack of talent for them is amusing and quirky, but it can also be a little nagging when they mistake a metaphor for a simile. Similar, but not the same.Despite that, all protagonists are fleshed-out and we get to know their aspirations and fears, as those of the city itself. The novel reminded me of The Fallen Blade, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. It shares its mixture of Renaissance Italy, paranormal elements and a little bit of its darkness. I've enjoyed both very much.In the last one hundred pages, it all comes together in the most exciting way: all the cunning characters, the mysterious science of the ancients, all the horrors that were brewing inside the city, and outside too, all the insanity and the Renaissance flair. I was filled with a sense of wonder. Such imagination from the author has been wonderful to read and enjoy. My only but which is not exactly small is that ending. It left me dumbfounded. Really! All seemed to grow and build up to an amazing end when suddenly I couldn't understand what had happened and why and what it meant. Then, the end. Umm, what? Yes, I see what the characters see but it's not rounded and clarified enough to give you that feeling of enlightenment, of awe at the realization of all the pieces fitting perfectly. Especially when you're not sure if there's a second book coming up to wrap it up.

  • Tania Godwin-evans
    2018-11-18 21:37

    I am not really sure what to say about this novel even after pondering on it for quite a while. I wanted to like it so much but there are just some things that troubled me. (I won’t be going into the plot as I want this review to guide you but not influence you and doing that does not include repeating parts of the novel or revealing the plot.)This is a steampunk version of Romeo and Juliet, with a little bit of Macbeth thrown in, set in an alternative Italy. The story made wonderful use of ancient and modern machinery, and magic which would have occurred hand in hand during the period within which the story was set. The main characters, ie the Romeo and Juliet roles are just part of an ensemble cast of main characters. I can understand the use of real historical characters but whey these particular characters who were never contemporaries of each other? I found this confusing, and distracted me from the story proper – call me a traditionalist but I like things in their place and not messed with. That said take an historic story or element as a base and add modern characters to it then you are golden.Maybe it was because of their age but I didn’t really identify with either of these two characters who did not live up to expectations and unfortunately came across as 2-dimensional characters. I wasn’t totally convinced of their love story either. I did love the Shadow master though. He was an intriguing mysterious character just as the author wrote him.There was a certain wit and humour in this novel that was often obscured and therefore not easily identified as fully. The narrative was choppy in places and the whole story seemed to be bogged down by the superfluous characters that had little or no back story and added very little to the storyline. Another element that slowed the whole story down were the numerous subplots and the additional levels of intrigue, treachery, deceit, power, and ambition especially in the second half of the book. The beginning of the novel had real promise yet the second half appeared to have no idea where it wanted to go. It seemed to me that the author was trying to throw so much of everything into this part of the book and made it a confusing muddle. Although people have said that they liked the ending as it was a reflection of the authors humour; and that the author left some elements for the reader’s interpretation. This particular reader found the ending was rather rushed, a bit confusing, and not really an ending at all but instead a nice set up for a sequel. That said the book held my interest enough so that I did finish it.I am not sure whether I enjoyed this book but if steampunk, sci fi and alternative universes then this could well be the book for you. Give it a try and find out for yourself.I would like to add that I was given an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review but something happened and my kindle deleted it and the author was kind enough to send me a second copy. So kudos to the author for that; and I am sorry my review could not be more flattering.Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.