This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Published by Audible Studios
Released on September 2, 2010
A newly updated edition of Patricia Briggs’ first book and the inclusion of an introduction by the author herself had me one-clicking on this audio edition. Fantasy world, action, intrigue, mages, shape-shifters, and engaging characters made this a highly entertaining story from start to finish.
Masques is the first book in the Sianim series and the first in the Aralorn duology. It can be read standalone or one of several stories set in the same high fantasy world.
Aralorn is the shape-shifting, warrior daughter of a noble family. She has left the pampered life of wealth behind to train and become a mercenary and spy. Her latest assignment takes her to spy on the household of the most powerful mage in the land. She is meant to discover a possible assassination attempt, but instead discovers the mage himself is corrupt and using his power to entrap minds, enslave people, and kill for additional power. The mage must be stopped. She faces him with the help of a mysterious shape-shifting wolf, a young king who is impervious to magical influence, and some surprising help along the way, but they are up against a mage who has summoned the undead along with some of the most powerful magic users he has tricked.
Aralorn was an engaging heroine. She is clever, skilled, and compassionate. She also possesses mild magic that helps her disguise herself and resist mental manipulation. She is impetuous when her compassion is engaged which is why she rescues a wild wolf from a trap and ignores everyone including the wolf himself who tells her that he’s dangerous and possibly worse. Aralorn does like to go her own way and work alone, but knows she is woefully inadequate to face off with a powerful mage. This was an underdog situation and I do love those, but it was also a story of treachery and redemption. I found Aralorn something of a ‘too perfect’ character, but Wolf was much more complex. It is his story as much as Aralorn’s and gives the depth to this tale. His past is slowly revealed and he must face it before he can take on the mage. He must also learn to trust particularly the fierce woman who stands at his side.
I do love how the author weaves lore and legend into her stories so well. This is a fantasy so it has plenty already, but within the story lore and legend play a strong role in helping Aralorn and their friends against sheer magical might.
The narrator is one whom I’ve encountered before. Katherine Kellgren did well with this story mostly narrated by Aralorn, but also Wolf and a few others. She really told a good fight scene and had a nice repertoire of voices for characters and situations.
All in all, it was great to step into Patricia Brigg’s fantasy world and I look forward to the other stories in the series. If you enjoy fantasy that is carried by action and intrigue with a smaller dose of romance, try this one.
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