Book Review : Shadows of the Master

Book Review : Shadows of the MasterShadows of the Master (Star of Deltora, #1) by Emily Rodda
Published by Omnibus Books on August 1st 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Middle Grade
Pages: 176
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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four-half-stars

Britta has always wanted to be a trader like her father, sailing the nine seas and bringing precious cargo home to Del harbour. Her dreams seemed safe until her fathers quest to find the fabled Staff of Tier ended in blood and horror. Now his shamed family is in hiding, and his ship, the Star of Deltora, belongs to the powerful Rosalyn fleet. But Brittas ambition burns as fiercely as ever.When she suddenly gets the chance to win back her future she knows she has to take it whatever the cost. She has no idea that shadows from a distant, haunted isle are watching her every move.

Full disclosure, I bought Shadows of the Master as a gift for my niece and couldn’t resist reading it. My nine year old niece mainly sticks to reading classic children’s novels like The Babysitter’s Club, and while that is all well and good, I couldn’t resist trying to get her into fantasy novels. So when I was pursuing the catalog of books during an Usborne party I had been invited to, Shadows of the Master caught my eye. A story about a young girl longing for something more and with the determination and grit to seek it out against all odds? Perfect! This is the kind of book I would have loved growing up and apparently, still love as an adult. 

 

“And yet…what hope did she have for her future—the future she had dreamed of all here life? perhaps it made perfect senses for her to imagine she was being followed. For in a way she was. Wherever she went, whatever she did, she was followed by her past.”

 

Shadows of the Master centers on young Britta as she seeks to become a travelling trader, much like her notorious father, who betrayed and murdered the crew of his ship, the eponymous Star of Deltora, in his quest for a magical staff of legend. With a little help from her father’s former friend, Captain Gripp, Britta is able to test for a coveted apprenticeship with Mab, the leader of the Rosalyn Fleet Traders. But Britta has her work more than cut out for her, as she has to not only keep her identity as her father’s daughter hidden from those giving the tests, but also her participation in the competition a secret from her still grieving family.

 

If Britta can win this competition as an apprentice it will not only allow her to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a trader, but will also enable her to win back ownership of her father’s ship, to clear her family’s name and to change their poor fortune once and for all. With so much on the line for Britta, it was easy to get super invested in her ambitions. It doesn’t hurt that Britta’s rivals in the competition also serve as a window to the very different and interesting cultures and walks of life in the world in which Shadows of the Master takes place.

 

I was immediately drawn into Britta’s world in the heart of the city of Del. It was easy to like Britta, who has composure and understanding beyond her years, despite being hidden away with her mother and older sister in their family shop. Though I questioned the mother’s logic in launching a shop when trade was the cause of their loss of fortune and good name (and a source of much consternation for the mom), it certainly ignited an already present passion in Britta, who has a flair for both customer service, making a good deal, and a longing to explore the world—to her mother’s absolute horror. 

 

“Now she had seen in black-and-white that she filled all the requirements of the Rosalyn Trust. She had not been able to stop imagining herself escaping from the dull little shop to sail the wide seas, visit foreign ports, see the wonders she had read about—and trade, without fear, for a living.”

 

I was further delighted by the glimpses of magic and intrigued by illusions to the Shadowlands, a dark enemy from beyond the mountains, and a sickness that leaves victims mentally unwell. Clearly there is so much more going on in this world that Britta and therefore, the reader, knows. Even more interesting is that many of these mysterious happenings are centered around our unknowing young protagonist, who is focused more on achieving her goals and who is trying to sabotage them than the shadows that follow her footsteps.

 

I am very excited to see how everything unfolds in The Star of Deltora series and already ordered the rest of the books, for myself this time! I would recommend Shadows of the Master to fans of authors Tamora Pierce and Patricia Wrede, and to both young and old readers who delight in capable female protagonists and fantastical worlds. 

 

 

 

four-half-stars
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Book Review : Shadows of the Master - Blogging with Dragons

Posted September 27, 2022 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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