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An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors

(The Risen Kingdoms #1)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  248 reviews
In a world of soaring continents and bottomless skies, where a burgeoning new science lifts skyships into the cloud-strewn heights and ancient blood-borne sorceries cling to a fading glory, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is about to be married to a man she has barely heard of, the second son of a dying king in an empire collapsing into civil war.

Born without the
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published August 29th 2017 by Tor Books
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,024 ratings  ·  248 reviews


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Mogsy (MMOGC)
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/08/29/...

An Alchemy of Masques and Shadows turned out to an incredible surprise and one of the most engrossing reads I’ve had in a long time. In truth though, I hadn’t known what to make of the novel’s description when it first crossed my path. Its story’s scattered allusions initially prompted me to approach this one with a wariness I usually reserve for unknown quantities, but ultimately this mishmash of genre elements ended up being one of my favorite aspec
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Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[4.5 stars] An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors was such a cool book! It had interesting character profiles, totally immersive world-building, and an abundance of drop-in details that I found totally original. When I first received the book for review and saw cover quotes from Brandon Sanderson and Lawrence Watt-Evans (two of my all-time favorites), I knew I was in for a good read, I just didn’t know how good. Curtis Craddock did not disappoint!

Right off the bat I was impressed with the unique setting for this st
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Katie Montgomery
Things Katie Enjoys In A Novel, As Correlated With "An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors":

_X_ Calculus jokes

_X_ Period-appropriate prose

___ Talking cats

_X_ Strong, sassy heroines who have no trouble kicking it with the boys

_X_ Believable, likable characters

___ Pandas

_X__ Swashbuckling

_X__ Witty repartee, preferably in which a member of the nobility is fearlessly sassed

_X__ Magical colleges an
...more
Bookwraiths
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is crisply written, cleverly plotted, and highly imaginative; a fantasy which succeeds in combining elements from different speculative fiction genres into an entertaining opening to The Risen Kingdoms series.

The tale begins with dashing Musketeer Jean-Claude racing against time to arrive at the birth of the girl who will become the center of his life: Isabelle. This offspring of royal, bloodshadow magicians nearly killed after birth due/>An
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Sherwood Smith
Wow, what a wild ride!

I'm amazed that this is Craddock's first book. The writing is so tight, so witty, so rich with image that I was drawn in from the start, even though I'm wary of any more special-girl-in-repressive-patriarchal-settings SF/F. Craddock makes it work anyway, because the characters are so vivid, rather than the stock characters you meet in that situation. And the sure grace of the narrative voice, avoiding the too-often encountered awkward lumps of sentence fragments
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Scott  Hitchcock
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Scott by: Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
Shelves: epic-fantasy
A lot of different elements to this book. It's epic fantasy in nature but bordering on steampunk and grimdark in some aspects and firmly in the historical fiction, noir and mystery camp.

The story takes place in an alternate version of the 15th century with princess Isabella of Spain cast in a fictitious role of the real life character with aspects of the historical lineage of Christ thrown in for good measure. Political intrigue between warring factions both within the country and Fr
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Lauren Stoolfire
I received an eARC of this novel from NetGalley.

Isabelle is despised and neglected by her cruel father because she was born with a deformed hand and without bloodshadow magic. The neglect is fine by her because that means she has more time to follow her passions by illegally studying math and science. Although Isabelle is a princess, she doesn't believe she has any future prospects until an offer of arranged marriage to the Prince of Aragoth opens up her world. Isabelle travels from her home on Isle des Zephyrs i
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wishforagiraffe
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I loved this book. I love the feisty and bright Isabelle, who is smart and charismatic, and whose insecurities are so real for the way she was raised. I love her devotion to the people who deserve it (those who care about her for HERSELF, and not for her station) and to her cause - peace. I love her father-figure musketeer Jeane-Claude, who is incredibly good at reading people and who is loyal first to Isabelle, even though he's supposed to be loyal to his king foremost.

I loved the setting, bot
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Lukasz
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk
What a book! I’m impressed. Not only it’s good, fresh, intelligent and imaginative, it’s also author’s debut work. Dude, you’ve got some skills.

L’Empire Céleste is ruled by Grand Leon and inhabited by Clayborn (regular folks) and Saintborns (direct descendants of saints) who can kill with their shadows, or hollow people out and take away their volition. Isabelle des Zephyrs is a Princess and the daughter of the Comte des Zephyrs – cruel aristocrat who enjoys destroying others. Someti
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The Captain
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! With about 80 active series in progress, I really shouldn’t have started one more. But I saw this and couldn’t help meself. The crew has been raving about this one and y’all be right! In fact, I will let me scalawags convince ye lollygagger’s to go with the flow and join the rest of us!

Tammy @ books,bones,andbuffy:

The nitty-gritty: As twisty and complex as Shakespeare, this story surprised me in every way possible. This is defin/>
The
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The Shayne-Train
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Looking for a steampunk/alt-history fantasy revolving around royal magic-users, religious half-machine cyborgs, and flying galleons set in a pseudo-medieval France and Spain?

THEN READ THIS BOOK, MON AMIE!

For reals, the levels of adventure, derring-do, and utterly fantastic world-building are dialed up to 11 in this book. HIGHLY recommended for fantasy fans, and readers that like a bit of court intrigue and manipulation with their sorcery.
Beth Cato
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley, 2017
I adored An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors. A polymath, physically-disabled princess who is delightfully clever! An aged musketeer, utterly devoted to the princess he loves as a daughter, and brilliant in his own way! A world of floating islands and blood magic and mirror-projections! Villains who are complex and creepy, never falling into caricature! This really has it all. The world-building is complex but never overwhelming; I was hooked within the first few pages, and was eager to grab any chance I ...more
Melliane
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5/5

Mon avis en Français

My ENglish review

I confess that I was really intrigued by the story by reading the summary. Fantasy and space are often some very delicate subjects for me and I do not venture much into this type of novels, yet An Alchem
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Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This book is so INSANELY underhyped! The father daughter relationship is SO DAMN GOOD
Jeremy Jackson
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man, that was good! Immersive, well-written, and wildly imaginative. Impressive by any standard, but particularly for a debut; Craddock is an author I'll be following closely.
Mike
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book (and not just because the Steampunk square was my final one to completely fill in my /r/Fantasy reading bingo card). This is a book set on a world that, as far as I can tell, is a gaseous planet with floating land masses. The protagonists are a princess in what is basically a floating Steampunk France, born with no sorcery in a world where the ruling nobility in every nation is composed entirely of sorcerers, and the Royal Musketeer who has devoted his life to caring f ...more
Jenia
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tons of fun! I loved Isabelle and Jean-Claude was a badass. The gratuitous insertion of French and Spanish words made me grit my teeth tho haha
Kelsey
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-releases
I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for review.
Video version of this review here: https://youtu.be/AV2BbBHtpeI

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors takes place in a couple of nations designed to be obvious stand-ins for 17th century France and Spain in a world that superficially looks nothing like our own. It's a world with continents that float in the buoyant aether, said to be shattered remnants of a prior world. The saints are believed to have survived this shattering, and their magical powers are preserved/>An
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Danya
This review and others can be found on my blog, Fine Print.

Curtis Craddock’s AN ALCHEMY OF MASQUES AND MIRRORS is an incredibly accomplished novel, combining various genre-fiction elements to create a story reminiscent of a decidedly more feminist version of The Three Musketeers.

Born with a deformed hand, Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs of l’Empire Celestine would’ve been killed on the day of her birth if it weren’t for the hasty intervention of Jean-Claude, a young King’s Own Musketeer. Charg
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Emily
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Watch a mini-review in my August 2017 wrap up!

I received an advanced copy of this from the publisher through Netgalley.

3.5 stars

I really enjoyed this! A great bit of swashbuckling fun.

The setting was one of my favorite aspects of this book. We spend our time split between two fictional kingdoms--one inspired by France, one by Spain, in a time period reminiscent of the 17th century. Seems perfectly normal, except these countries are on continents that are FLOATING I
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All Things Urban Fantasy
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

AN ALCHEMY OF MASQUES AND MIRRORS is a well-crafted, absorbing novel. In fact, Princess Isabelle might be one of my favourite characters. She kind, smart, and accustomed to the glares that come her way. Her disability and lack of magic make her an outcast. If she was male, then it might be easier to move forward in their religious society where women are pushed away from maths and science and forced into more appropriate activities. Her only trusted f
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Matt
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I don't think I'm going to be able to - or more properly going to want to - finish this. It's a Dumas pastiche with a magi-punk vibe set on a trope world of floating continents on a gas giant where the setting seems to play no role whatsoever in the story. No big ideas in evidence, just a lot of a Grimdark stuff that adds up to less than the world building effort that went into it. The setting seems to be arbitrarily chosen just to be different. Like the proverbial Japanese painting that doesn't ...more
Judy Lesley
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan - Tor/Forge for the opportunity to read a digital copy of this book.

The three star rating is me bumping my rating up because the author presented such an unusual fantasy world in this novel. I liked seeing his imagination at work. The landmasses, known as skylands, float in the air and are large enough to support cities, towns, and all other expected forms of life. No creepy critters or giants or gnomes or zombies but almost regular people, except
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Eva Müller
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
“I still think I should-”
“No!” Isabelle rallied against the automatic male assumption that anything she might do, they could do better, even if they had no experience whatsoever.


After the awesome-sounding blurb and the advance praise, I expected a lot from this book and was slightly disappointed in the first few chapters. It infodumps a lot on the world and there is too much magical technobabble for my taste. It also doesn’t need long till my fantasy pet peeve appears: the brutal execution method (described in detail) that
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Rebecca
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

GAH! I loved the synopsis for An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, so despite my busy schedule I made time to read this and I’m glad I did because it was literally SO much better than I could have expected or hoped. This book has elements similar to those found in David D. Levine’s Arabella of Mars – I’m quickly coming to find that I have a fondness for steampunk empires similar to those found in Europe in the 1700-1800’s. An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors pulls elements from
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Megan
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own-tbr
AMAZING!
This is easily one of my new favorites. I knew nothing about this book when I bought it, only that the cover made is sound like a steampunk fantasy, which it was!

The plot line follows two main characters, Isabella (the daughter a sorcerous count), who was born unhallowed, or without magic, and also with a deformed hand. Because of these two things, she is always treated very poorly. We also follow Jean Claude, a non magical muskateer who works for the king and has sworn
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Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Curtis Chaddock’s novel An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is inventive high fantasy. While it doesn’t hold all the elements of such stories, it has plenty to count it as such.

There’s a brilliant if young heroine, and she has a father-figure protector. And hey he’s a Musketeer, so what could possibly go wrong? Isabelle is a princess in the realm of l’Empire Céleste, which exists in a very different sky from our own. Her father agrees to betroth Isabelle to the scion of another land, w
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Susan Gottfried
Oct 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
I think it's time I figure out which review site I'm reading that makes clunkers sound so attractive. Because while this had great potential, I had problems with it almost from the get-go. For one, the first three or four chapters are backstory, which means the book doesn't open with the story. This results in a disjointed first couple of chapters that seem to lead nowhere other than to build a world and establish the circumstances of Isabella's life -- which she's about to leave, once the story ...more
Mike
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 out of 5 stars -- see this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

In a floating world filled with airships and royal sorcerers, Princess Isabelle and her trusty musketeer, Jean-Claude, fight against a sinister plot that has been thousands of years in the making.

I was immediately drawn in by the wondrous setting and Curtis Craddock’s beautiful prose. The humor and clever tur/>My
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Rachel McMillan
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wildly entertaining romantic romp in the tradition of Dumas and Sebastien de Castell and Mary Robinette Kowal. In a steampunky alternative Paris, laced with political and magical intrigue, power dynamics and and murder, Princess Isabelle and her musketeer protector Jean-Claude are thrown into a world of turmoil, attempted assassination and intrigue.

I cannot properly convey how compelling the hook of this tale was to me nor how pleased I was with its exposition. Fun adventure matine
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“Why did tradition always insist that ignorance was the optimum state for important transactions involving women?” 3 likes
“The most important things we have are dreams," Isabelle said. "Without them we cannot conjure new truths or better worlds. Where we get into trouble is when we tell ourselves dreams don't matter, or we let other people tell us our dreams are silly or stupid. I dream of peace, and I won't give it up.” 3 likes
More quotes…