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(Masks of Aygrima #1)

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  703 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Masks, the first novel in a mesmerizing new fantasy series, draws readers into a world in which cataclysmic events have left the Autarchy of Aygrima—the one land blessed with magical resources—cut off from its former trading partners across the waters, not knowing if any of those distant peoples still live. Yet under the rule of the Autarch, Aygrima survives. And thanks to ...more
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by DAW
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Diana Tenenbaum I would say appropriate from 8th grade up. The writing style and age of the main character (15 years old) position this firmly as a young adult novel,…moreI would say appropriate from 8th grade up. The writing style and age of the main character (15 years old) position this firmly as a young adult novel, in my opinion. There is some violence, but nothing too extreme or scarring, and very limited bad language. The only sexual themes it contains are references to rape; nothing graphic, but they are there, so that would probably be the worst thing to look out for. (less)

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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  703 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
This book is not so much high fantasy as it is toilet paper.

I live in Southern California. The weather is lovely, as perfect as it can get; if I have a single complaint about living here, it is the lack of snow. But this time around, I find myself not yearning for snow, because I just got pelted smack in the fucking face with the gigantic special fucking snowflake of a Mary Sue who is our main character, Mara Holdfast.

I have fucking standards for my heroines. My love for a heroine is hard-won. I
Tension building that will curl your toes and amazing world building!

Read a guest appearance from the author E.C. Blake on writing Masks @ Not Yet Read

In Masks the reader will discover a unique magic system where the gifted that are able to work with magic are few and yet each person’s life seems to be ruled by it. This is because the ruler of this country is a of course someone very strong in the use of magic and by his decree all citizens at the age of 15 must don a mask that will essentially
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
4 of 5 stars on The BiblioSanctum

Masks is the very promising first novel of what's shaping up to be a phenomenal series. And to think, at first I was tentative about approaching this book because (wait for it, silly irrational reason incoming) I was a little spooked by the cover! There's just something so unsettling about the blank gaze of an empty mask, but I couldn't deny there was a lot of beauty in this particular one too.

Thinking back on it now, I re
Apr 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I hate to ruin the relatively high average rating for this book, but unfortunately I have to disagree with the majority voice on Goodreads. I had Masks on my wish list since I first heard of it back in April 2013, enticed by the stunning cover (I mean look at it!) and adequately promising blurb. Alas Masks turned out to be a great big disappointment for me, and I can pinpoint exactly why I felt that way.

We start off with a young Mara, about to be tested for the very first time. And then
Decent YA fantasy, but lazy writing early and an over reliance on sexual violence to imperial female characters combine to make MASKS something I can't recommend.
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mara knows nothing else then masks. Her father is the master maskmaker for the Autarch. Everyone who turns fifteen receives a mask. The mask is empowered with magic to show when the mask wearer is behaving badly. Then the watchers are there to take corrective action.

The big day is finally here. Mara is about to receive her mask. However during the making event, something happens and Mara find herself shunned. She finds friends with the Unmasked army. Which was believed to be a myth. Mara learns
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
When I received a review request for Masks, I was a bit hesitant. The cover’s not all that appealing and I’m pretty busy right now. However, the blurb had enough to make me curious. The fantasy world sounded unique in the way that Brandon Sanderson’s tend to be, and that’s something I couldn’t pass up. The comparisons to The Hunger Games and His Dark Materials were also intriguing, in that the two are almost entirely distinct. In point of fact, I really don’t see a comparison to either of those, ...more
Viviane Crystal
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Enter the Autarch, the Supreme Ruler of Aygrima, who in the first few pages uses magic to destroy a female opponent. But destroying his enemies is not the ultimate goal; it is the goal from the moment opposition rears its rebellious head. So how easy in this high tech, future society to create a specific mask for each man, woman and child, one that a “Watcher” can look at and immediately detect disloyalty or at least suspicion of betrayal.
And so it continues. We now enter the home of Mara Holdf
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, won
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I wasn’t sure how I would like Masks due to the premise that everyone in the autarchy had to wear them once they achieved adulthood, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way Blake weaved the masks into the story. Everything about this book felt like it was deeper than you originally thought. The characters were well written and had pasts that you get glimpses of throughout the story that underlines what motivates the various c
Kari Lynn Mackey
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Disclosure: I received a free uncorrected proof of Masks by E.C. Blake courtesy of DAW Books via GoodReads First Reads.

The premise of this novel and the details about the uses and dangers of magic that the author provides give this fantasy tale a unique bent. Aygrima, the fantasy world in which Masks is set, is carefully crafted with backstory and geographical descriptions that gives the land a life of its own. These features almost beg for fan fiction to be written in the setting of Aygrima.

Jacklynn Sizemore
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I found this book to be really good!!! I say you must read it!! You get lost in the story and find that the masks are not what they seem!!!
Debbie Lester
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Masks is the first book in the Masks of Aygrima series by E.C. Blake. This is one of those novels that defies being classified, but it's not the genre that's in question, it's the age group. The heroine Mara Holdfast is fifteen years old during the time of story which would lend it toward being a young adult fantasy novel, but that's not necessarily the case. It has some adult themes and situations that make it very appealing to adult fantasy readers as well. Young and old alike will find the wo ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Every time I finish a high fantasy book I ask myself why I don't read more of them. I just love them so much! But I suppose that I don't read them ALL the time because maybe the excitement they give me would start to fade? Maybe I'd start to like them less? Most of all, it's because I have so many other things I want to read too. But really, I can't seem to ever get enough fantasy. Starting a new fantasy series when I already have so many going maybe isn't the best idea, but I'm really glad I di ...more
Grace Troxel
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

Disclaimer: I read Masks by E.C. Blake while laying on a beach drinking tonic water that may or may not have also contained a significant amount of gin. This means that I am likely to be substantially less critical than I might otherwise be. My friends also inform me that the title must be pronounced with a dramatic accent, because that makes it more fun.

The land of Aygrima is ruled by
Jason A.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
What to say about this book?

That is what I am struggling with right now. "Masks" seems like it has what is needed to be a successful opening to a series, but it falls short in a few areas.

First, the world we are given revolves around the idea that the adult citizens are required to wear masks when they are out in public. The premise is that the masks are magical and will signal to the "watchers" if someone has traitorous thoughts about the ruler. Who hasn't those types of thoughts at some point
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
E. C. Blake


In Aygrima...magic is a gift possessed by just a few. At the age of 15...masks are made to suit each mask wearer. Mara...the daughter of the chief mask awaiting her special day...when her ceremony goes terribly wrong.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I loved this book and yet I am at a loss as to how to explain it to any potential reader. This kind of fantasy is complex and complicated. However...the best thing is this...once you start reading thi
Jan 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was disturbing for several reasons. But first, one needs to keep in mind that the main character is a fifteen year old young lady. Keep that firmly in your head when you consider that the author puts her through the following situations:

1) Several scenes of nudity, including more than one that is involuntary,
2) The most mentions of urination I have ever encountered in any singular book - and possibly more mentions than I possess in my rather large collection combined, with an emphasis
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Goodreads Giveaway book

E.C. Blake's Masks is a promising start to what will be a stunning fantasy series. Mara's world is intriguing. The Autarch, supreme ruler of the land, creates masks infused with magic, bewitched to allow the Autarch's Watchers to monitor the thoughts of of the people. Each mask will betray it's wearer, shattering irreparably upon any treachery spoken against the Autarch. But when Mara's mask rejects her on her fifteenth birthday, she is rejected from society, and doomed
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that loves fantasy books.
Disclosure: I received a free uncorrected proof of Masks by E.C. Blake courtesy of DAW Books via GoodReads First Reads.

I absolutely loved Masks by E.C. Blake. I thought Mara and the other characters in the book were very well thought out and well written. The story kept me engaged from the very first word until the very end. It was a hard book to put down at the end of the day, I just wanted to keep reading it and not go to sleep. I cannot wait to read the rest of the books in this series and se
Dark Faerie Tales
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: For years, every adult has been required to wear a mask when outside of their house in order to prevent another rebellion. When 15-year-old Mara’s Masking fails, her life is changed forever…

Opening Sentence: From atop a nameless mountain, the Autarch of Aygrima watched another of his villages burn.

The Review:

Young adult books can sometimes be hit or miss with me, depending on how I feel about the protagonist. Luckily, this book was a big hit
Cat Russell  (Addicted2Heroines)
Before I start my review, I have a confession to make. I didn't know E.C. Blake was a male author. Why does this matter, you ask? Because I have a tendency to avoid stories told from a female character's point of view when they're not written by a woman. I know it's wrong to judge a story before I've read it, but I've had a couple of bad experiences. Fortunately, this wasn't an issue with Masks. Blake creates a likable, believable teenage girl that you'll want to cheer for until the very end.

Jill Williamson
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mara is about to turn fifteen and become an adult. When that happens she will also get her mask, which will show her status, profession, and whether or not she is loyal to the Autarch. But when Mara’s mask breaks during her masking ceremony, she is taken away. It’s then that she discovers what happens to those who are unmasked.

I enjoyed this book. With the exception of a prologue, it’s told strictly from Mara’s point of view. We follow her from age five to fifteen: the events that lead up to her
Megan Anderson
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ok I absolutely love this book. The only problem I do have is that this book is a little crude in certain content areas. That may be only my thought because I'm only 15 and I'm not like most of the teens who are very physical in a relationship. In other words by friend literally told me I was acting like a 5 year old going through the "cooties" stage when I proceeded to say "kissing is icky." Anyhow, this book displays going against what society has told you very well. How Mara's character devel ...more
Melissa Wilson
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about this book?.... I loved it!! It took me less than 3 days to complete it, I had a hard time putting it down. I am looking forward to the next two books in the series. Just need to go and buy them. :)
Shannon Flowers
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Masks is the first in a new YA-friendly fantasy series and is, from what I can gather, the first foray into fiction for author E.C. Blake. It follows the pattern that has become something of a standard for the genre; young protagonist faced with a coming-of-age moment, something goes wrong that drives the protagonist away from the comforts of home and safety of family to confront life-threatening danger, protagonist comes to realize that they are somehow special or unique and have the ability to ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Aygrima, magic is a Gift possessed from birth by a very small percentage of the population, with the Autarch himself the most powerful magic worker of all. Only the long-vanquished Lady of Pain and Fire had been able to challenge his rule.

At the age of fifteen, citizens are recognized as adults and must don the spell-infused Masks?which denote both status and profession?whenever they are in public. To maintain the secure rule of the kingdom, the Masks are magically crafted to reveal any treas
Jan 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I found this an enjoyable fantasy read. The plot is not too surprising (standard "girl is a long way from home"), but I greatly enjoyed the main character's personality. I also really liked the whole concept of a world where people must don masks for their 15th birthday, that the masks had started as a way to tease out treasonous thoughts (kind of reminded me of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay). But the emperor is corrupted, as emperors in fantasy novels often are, and changes the masks, resulting in ...more
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
At first the book seemed to be a bit ordinary. A simple concoction of things that makes a good fantasy story: an antagonist with great power, a young girl with an extraordinary gift, a society masked under the illusion of safety, etc. But as the story goes on the better it gets. I love the author put enough realism to show that in reality things don't happen out perfectly, or even produce the result you want but instead get worse and I like the revelation that Mara goes through her. And I loved ...more
Diana Tenenbaum
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved the story of this book. The plot is intriguing and the world that Blake has developed is rich and captured my imagination. The reason I give it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I think I'm a little older than the intended audience. The writing style and age of the main characters (approximately 15 years old) reminded me of fantasy books that I had read as a younger reader, in early high school. Despite that, I still found myself liking Mara quite a bit, and will definitely continue with t ...more
Ronnie Catcus
First Line: “From atop a nameless mountain, the Autarch of Aygrima watched another of his villages burn.”

Mara, a fifteen year old girl has a ‘Gift’. Meaning she can see magic. Except something goes wrong at her masking and she gets kidnapped 45325383 times but she’s still pretty and magical so don’t worry.

(view spoiler)
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E.C. Blake was born in New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment,” and the state’s nickname seems to have rubbed off: he started writing fantastical stories in elementary school and wrote his first fantasy novel in high school. He’s been a newspaper reporter and editorial cartoonist, a magazine editor, a writing instructor and a professional actor, and has written (under another name) more than 30 works of ...more

Other books in the series

Masks of Aygrima (3 books)
  • Shadows (Masks of Aygrima, #2)
  • Faces (Masks of Aygrima, #3)