Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Masques

Masques by Patricia Briggs
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Jul 05, 2015

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bookshelves: fantasy, paperbackswap
Read from December 16 to 19, 2010

Aralorn has always known that the dull life of a polished noblewoman was not for her, leading her to abandon her birthright for a life as a mercenary. Aralorn finds herself spying on the ae'Magi, a mage with the power to magically manipulate peoples' feelings. Sensing danger, she returns home to discover that the spymaster, Ren, doesn't seem to remember sending her after the ae'Magi, and close friends of her defend the dangerous mage with unusual fervor. Aralorn realizes that the ae'Magi is in the process of spelling everyone into his loyalty. She joins a small camp of resistance, but how long will they be able to stand against someone so powerful?

I'm a big fan of Patricia Briggs's paranormal novels, but had a bad experience with her traditional fantasy novel, The Hobs Bargain. As a result, I've been nervous about picking up any more of her fantasy works. Then I heard the story behind Masques, and found myself intrigued. Originally published in 1993, Masques was Briggs's first novel, and incredibly unsuccessful, resulting in it's sequel to never be published. Her recent success in the paranormal field has given her a second chance to bring both of Aralorn's novels to us. The version of Masques published in 2010 is not a mere reprint, but a complete reworking of the original story. The 2010 version of Masques presents ideas of a younger, less experienced Briggs, with a more mature perspective.

The result is a novel that is admittedly rougher than some of her more recent efforts. The novel begins awkwardly, and remains uneven for the first seventy pages. The ending it too abrupt (a fault that even Briggs's most recent novels still have). The story is not as polished as some of the Mercy books. At the same time, there is plenty to enjoy about this novel. Masques is one of those stories that hinges on the success of a few key elements, the likability of the main characters, and the chemistry between the female and male lead (Aralorn and Wolf). This is fortunately an area in which Briggs succeeds with flying colors. Aralorn is a great heroine, a mercenary and storyteller with an interesting back story. Wolf is a complex leading man, with a great story to follow. The romantic tension between the two is great, and some of the most satisfying scenes are when the two are just talking. The villain (the ae'Magi) is admittedly far from complex, but at least he is formidable. The ability to make someone feel loyalty and love when they don't is rather terrifying.

In the 2010 introduction to Masques, Briggs's admits that this a flawed novel, but there's plenty to keep you reading. The leads are likable, the setting is interesting, and once you get into the story, the book reads very fast. I suspect that I will pick up the sequel, Wolfsbane, in the future.
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Reading Progress

12/16/2010 page 32
11.0% "Just started this one. Too soon to form a real opinion but I can tell you that I already like it better than The Hob's Bargain (the last traditional fantasy I read by Patricia Briggs, which disappointed me)."
12/18/2010 page 119
40.0% "Book started out a little rough (but not bad), and was a little uneven for the first approx 70 pages. Since then, it's gotten better and better. I like watching the two main characters interact. Lots of layers there"
12/19/2010 page 294
100.0% "Just finished this one. A flawed, but enjoyable quick read with likable characters. Review coming soon (probably tomorrow)."

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