Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Sianim 1
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Rewritten from the original story of 1993.
After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy.
Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi.
But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?
I can't tell you how many years I waited to get my hands on Masques. It was out of print and for sale on ebay for over a hundred dollars. I had easily found Steal the Dragon and When Demons Walk, the other two books in the series at the time, and desperately wanted to read their prequel, Masques. It was lucky that these stories can be read out of order without detracting from the plot because Masques wasn't reprinted until recently when Briggs gained a large following for some of her other works. Masques was worth the wait.
Masques is the story that introduces readers to the world of Sianim. It's a place where magic is prevalent, but the magic Aralorn, the main character, uses is rare. That makes her an amazing spy. She is sent to infiltrate the ae'Magi's castle. He is the leader of the mages in the world and Aralorn soon realizes he is up to something sinister. If I describe any of the fight to stop him, I'll give away one of the many twists in the story, so let me simply say I found the battle to be interesting and well written. I have reread this book dozens of times since and still enjoy it.
I also really liked the romance in the book. It's subtle as respect for each other became love before the book even began. However, because they're both scarred by life and focused on stopping the ae'Magi, romance has to wait. That doesn't stop Aralorn's lover (if I say his name I'll give away one of the twists) from heroically trying to save her. His frantic search for her as well as her regard of him is very clearly love.
Had I been able to read Masques before the rest of the series I would have enjoyed the next two books even more. Masques sets up the world and the magic the reader is thrown into in Steal the Dragon, which stops some of the abruptness in that sequel. It also helped add more of the depth of plot I thought was missing in When Demon's Walk as it explains the larger world that was almost entirely absent in book three.
I do recommend this book and I recommend reading it before the other books in the series. It was a fun read with interesting magic and well crafted world building that served to bolster the rest of the series.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.