Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Book Review: Master and Apprentice by Sonya Bateman

Master and ApprenticeTitle: Master and Apprentice
Author: Sonya Bateman
Number of pages: 412 pages 
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: 29 March 2011
Series: Book #2 in the Gavyn Donatti series
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Kindle store, Book Depository

Goodreads appetizer:


Luck has never been on Gavyn Donatti’s side. Anyone else with magic abilities inherited from a distant genie relative would have it made, but not Donatti, descendant of a cranky, shape-shifting genie named Ian. The prince of a murdered kingdom, consumed with revenge and driven by an unbreakable curse, Ian is determined to hunt down and destroy every last one of his enemies in the power-hungry snake clan—at any cost, including his life. Or Donatti’s.

Obsessed by his own rage, Ian has never really taught Donatti how to use his abilities. So when a powerful cult of magic-users captures Ian’s wife, the princess Akila, and then Ian himself, Donatti is left alone to take on dozens of half-djinn and their mysterious leader with designs on world domination.

Facing an impossible mission, Donatti is forced to turn to an enemy for help—one who claims to know how to unlock his true potential. Trusting a snake might be the last mistake Donatti ever makes—but if he doesn’t learn to wield the power inside him, everyone will pay the ultimate price.

My Thoughts: I sometimes wonder which is harder: writing the 1st book in a series, ie. the authors launching themselves out into the unknown and building an original universe they hope readers will enjoy, or to the contrary writing the 2nd book, ie. when they have to meet (and exceed) the expectations of all the readers who enjoyed their 1st book. That must be pretty daunting, what daunting terrorizing! (It is a miracle authors manage to write 2nd books in my opinion.)

And in all fairness I confess that I had extremely high expectations of Master and Apprentice after how much I was blown away by Book #1 Master of None (if you can't recall my gushing, you can read my review of Book #1 Master of None here), but somehow I wasn't worried, I trusted that after all the awesomeness of Master of None Sonya Bateman wouldn't disappoint me and she sure didn't!

Master and Apprentice picks up around one year after where Master of None left off: Gavyn and Ian have been hunting and exterminating Morai (=the bad djinns for those who forgot) and they live happily ever after in a cozy suburban house. They live the slightly magical version of a Desperate Housewives scene until everything comes crashing down and more evil djinns disrupt their quiet and blissful family life.

There are so many fantastic things about this series that I cannot pinpoint only one as its highlight. The incredible writing style, the action packed, nail-biting plot, the rich and detailed worldbuilding (with original djinn clans (Dehbei, Bahari and Morai) and the creation of a made up djinn language(!)), the crack-up humour and the three dimensional, in-depth characterization are all essential to make the Gavyn Donatti series the awesomeness that it is.

But if I really had to highlight something which in my opinion makes this series outstanding and an urban fantasy series you absolutely mustn't miss I would say it is the chuckle out loud dry, sarcasticly hilarious banter between Ian and Gavyn! Both are amazing characters separately: Ian being the quietly glowering, grumpy and authoritative genie err.. I mean djinn with the dry biting comments, while Gavyn is the crack-you-up-a-mile-a-minute soft hearted  thief with morals. And when these two are put together, they make one helluva combustive team! Master and Apprentice made me crack up just as often as Master of None, so for those of you who are not yet familiar with Sonya Bateman's writing here is a little taste of how sputtering-your-coffee-on-your-keyboard-funny the Gavny Donatti books are (be warned though: put away any hot drinks (well any drinks) just to insure the safety of your keyboard and yourself, because hilarity ensues): (oh and yes, it took me a considerable time and effort to narrow my top list down to only the following quotes!)
Ian frowned. "We will discuss this later."
"Yeah. Sure we will." I knew a dismissal when I heard it. With a scowl of my own I crossed my arms and nodded towards the cave. "Confident assholes first."

A hasty mental inventory revealed I'd brought nothing useful. Cell phone, flashlight, a bag of trail mix. That'd help. I could temporarily blind him, force-feed him, and hope he had a peanut allergy. 

My last thought before blackness took me was that Jazz would be pissed because I'd forgotten to put the laundry in the dryer before I died.
"Is murder your answer for everything, or do you reserve it for special occasions - like Tuesdays?"

I knew she could be just as stubborn as Ian when she wanted to, but this time I couldn't let her win. No way in hell I was going to end up saying I told you so to her tombstone.

They both looked like I felt. Worn down harder than a neighborhood football. And we were still going after these bastards. Brilliant strategy. It was like David and Goliath - if David had a broken leg, wore a blindfold, and hadn't slept for a week before he went to the valley. Hell, we didn't even have a lousy slingshot.

"You know most people would disagree that there's any magic on Earth. Outside of Disney World and the Bermuda triangle, that is." 

"Look, what they are doing to him makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a bunch of Boy Scouts."

I didn't trust his sudden change of heart. Getting Ian to consider a new opinion was like suggesting that the pope toss the mitre and wear a baseball cap in public.
So what do you say? Isn't Gavyn Donatti the most unique and hilarious narrator you have come across? :-)

Sonya Bateman's writing is flowing. The pace of the action gets faster and faster until you feel like the outside world is rushing you by in a blur and you can only see the action of that particular moment you are in with Ian and Gavyn.

But just as I said, Master and Apprentice is so much more than an action packed novel: the plot is structured and the rich worldbuilding is carefully developed, it is a lush universe full of colours, it is a feast to read any story set in it. Besides the action, deeper issues (and emotions) are also explored. Master and Apprentice is a novel with heart. All the characters you'll come to know, you'll grow to love and thanks to Ian and Gavyn being the way they are, despite their lives being very turbulent and highly dangerous, you would gladly sign up and be part of their team!

Verdict: Master and Apprentice not only met but exceeded all my (extremely high) expectations and reinforced my belief that Sonya Bateman is an amazing and incredibly talented storyteller, whose future novels I cannot wait to read!! If Urban Fantasy is your genre, or if you simply love original, well developed exciting stories who pack more than a handful of chuckles and choking up moments, you should try this series, you'll discover a new favourite! 

ps: you can now read Book #1 Master of None for free here: you need to register, but registration is completely free and only takes 1 min, enjoy! :-)

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Cover: 8.5/10 (This cover would be pure perfection if not for the wrong portrayal of the protagonist hero. The burning orange flames look vivid and wonderful, the djinn signs and writing look exciting and Akila in the background looks beautiful and ethereal (and of course the wolf looks great too), but why oh why did they have to change the cover model for Gavyn?! On the previous cover even though only part of his head was visible he looked different: fair skinned with light sandy brown/blonde short hair and less like the tanned Spanish matador he looks on cover#2. If not for the cover model, the cover of Master and Apprentice would be Cover Bliss! *sighs* well with the perfection of the novel this slight imperfection can be overlooked...)

Buy it:

The BookDepository

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