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Masques by Patricia Briggs
Cover Artist: Melanie Delon
Review by Lucy Schmeidler
Ace Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441019427
Date: 28 September 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

All the mages of the land have to answer to the Archmage, Geoffrey ae'Magi. And everyone seems bespelled to love him, except one former apprentice of his, who is hiding in the form of a wolf, and Aralorn, a woman mercenary and spy, who infiltrated his castle and saw the cruelty he practiced behind closed doors.

When the ae'Magi sets out to destroy Myr, the young king of Reth, who is naturally immune to magic, Aralorn seeks out Myr to warn him and offer what help she can, and rediscovers the mage who transforms himself into a wolf. The king-in-hiding has collected around him a settlement of refugees from the ae'Magi, including a large number of parentless children.

While the ae'Magi seeks to destroy both Myr and his former apprentice, not knowing that they are working together, the three friends try to devise a way to destroy the ae'Magi first. They receive unexpected help from a dragon, of whose very existence they had been unaware until it suddenly appeared.

Masques was Briggs' very first published book, and has been reissued with major changes to bring it to the professional level of her later books, but the story still shows the innocent charm of a naive writer with a mind full of beautiful images and ideas. There are still plot flaws, some of which may be resolved in a sequel: the romance between Aralorn and Wolf is carefully built up but never resolved; the fate of dragondom is left hanging; and when Aralorn finds that one of the monstrous humanoid Uriah was formerly a friend of hers, she shows no surprise that such a thing could be, even though there is no earlier suggestion that the Uriah were created from men. In any case, this is very enjoyable genre fantasy, if not as polished as some.

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