How did I get it: I heard about this book and its author on a ton of great Urban Fantasy blogs that I follow. I got a copy right before I won its sequel, Master and Apprentice by Sonya Bateman from Dark Faerie Tales and courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Why did I get it: Again, I am a fan of the male protagonist particularly the hapless sort. The fact that this book is about a hapless thief who gets a djinn was a great big bonus and a major incentive. I also have to say that I love the title because it ties in nicely to one of my favorite figures of speech and I’m a geek like that.
(Master of None will also count towards my Horror & Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge for 2011.)
How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.
Gavyn Donatti is the world’s unluckiest thief. Just ask all the partners he’s lost over the years. And when he misplaces an irreplaceable item he was hired to steal for his ruthless employer, Trevor—well, his latest bungle just might be his last. But then his luck finally turns: right when Trevor’s thugs have him cornered, a djinn, otherwise known as a genie, appears to save him.
Unfortunately, this genie—who goes by the very non-magical name of “Ian”—is more Hellboy than dream girl. An overgrown and extremely surly man who seems to hate Donatti on the spot, he may call Donatti master, but he isn’t interested in granting three wishes. He informs Donatti that he is bound to help the thief fulfill his life’s purpose, and then he will be free. The problem is that neither Donatti nor Ian has any idea what exactly that purpose is.
At first Donatti’s too concerned with his own survival to look a gift genie in the mouth, but when his ex-girlfriend Jazz and her young son get drawn into the crossfire, the stakes skyrocket. And when Ian reveals that he has an agenda of his own—with both Donatti and the murderous Trevor at the center of it—Donatti will have to become the man he never knew he could be, or the entire world could pay the price. . .
Review: I am still shocked about how long it took me to hear about Master of None, but I am so glad it was pointed out to me because this was something geared towards me as a reader. I have zero major complaints and I sort of want to make every sentence from here on out end in about three or four exclamation points, but I’m going to try to avoid holding down the shift key and pressing 1 while I write out this gushy review of gushiness.
Master of None reminded me that it has been way too long since I read a book where a) the people were realistically dysfunctional, b) I actually wanted everyone to be happy with whoever they want to be with, and c) everything worked out awesomely in the end.* So right off the back, the book gave me what I wanted.
Another important factor in my loving this book and wanting to marry it is the fact that the entire course of events is related to the reader by the most hilariously bumbling thief who has spent so much time meaning well and failing at everything that you can’t help but love him. So in addition to every other awesome thing, the book is about a grown person coming into his powers and working to figure out just who he wants to be. And that is something I not only am thrilled to see but that I would love to see more of in fiction.
Very quickly I got to the point where I just could not put this book down and found myself really, whole-heartedly invested in… well, everything. Master of None has action, it has snark, it has world-building, it has original ideas, it has magic, it has awesome djinns, it has dysfunctional friendships, it has humor including gallows, it has really great moments and details, and it has a lot of depth. It also has an awesome cast of characters which, in addition to the thief and his dour djinn, include an adorable little boy, his cool mom, and an awesome gay couple.
In general, I really came to care for all of the good guys and really hated the bad guys who were super messed up in the head. Donatti was obviously great, but so was everyone else particularly Ian, Jazz, Tory, and Lark. I loved Ian and Donatti’s bond that develops from necessity but eventually becomes a lot more than that. It’s really refreshing to read a book by an author who gets that romance isn’t the only thing that ought to matter to a character. The djinns will definitely appeal to fans of the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine, but I think I like Bateman’s take on them a lot better. I cannot wait to read more about the clans, the connection to animals, and the conflicts that she set up for Ian, Akila and the others.
As for the gay couple? While they were obviously not the key element to making this book an awesome read, having that dynamic added in just made things that much better for me. Much as is the case with Warren and Kyle in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, there’s no big song and dance, no conflicts coming from their sexual orientation, and no awful things happen to them just to move the story along. Instead their relationship is pretty much par for the course. Not because there’s no time for anyone to freak out, but because really it’s just not a big deal. The only thing about it that interests Donatti, the male main character, is the fact that they are obviously in love and that it’s pretty much a beautiful thing. That is awesome. That is something that I want more of in fiction too.
In conclusion, you can probably figure this out without my saying it? But this book was amazing! So if you like Urban Fantasy where romantic relationships are treated well but remain subplots instead of the overall plot, I would highly suggest getting yourself a copy of Master of None and Master and Apprentice while you’re at it.
* And that I need to get back to reading Stacia Kane, but that’s another story. And entirely a whole other post in of itself. Too many awesome books, too little brain.