Rated: 3 1/2 stars Recommend to: fans of anything magic; shape shifters, medieval period fantasy
After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn has fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves gathering intelligence on the increasingly charismatic and dangerous sorcerer Geoffrey ae’Magi. But in a war against an adversary armed with the power of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is—or where he will strike next?
When I saw this on the shelf the cover spoke to me, not that I understood a thing except it promised it would kick butt. Then my eyes flickered upwards and into the author’s name. I’ve read about four books into her Mercy Thompson series prior to stumbling across this, and I like those so I was kind of excited to see what her earlier writing looked like. This book here was originally two separate books of the same series, Masques and Wolfsbane respectively. This I learned while reading the Ms. Briggs author note, were here first ever published works. After relatively weak sales the went out of print until recently.
So I braced myself and sure enough there were a few transparent parts when I know what will happen, there were some difficult spots here and there where they conveniently got out of relatively unscathed. This takes place during what I would say Medieval times, so that plus some magic I was set. Aloran, I liked her, a free spirit that refuses to be chained and has a thirst for information and tales alike. She knows that she’s not her best a swordplay but utilizes what she can do for max effect, she’s a shape shifter changing appearances both human and animal, an invaluable asset to any spy.
After leaving the somewhat suffocating and boring atmosphere of Rets where women were not only respected but also forbidden to wield a sword, Aloran sets off with the blessings of her father and she becomes a mercenary for Sainim, a city known for the best of them. There’s the mysterious Wolf, a shape shifter who has never changed to his human form in front of her, not as yet anyway. After escaping from a dark past, Wolf finds himself drawn to Aloran’s company after she saved him on night from a hunters trap, it wasn’t something he would have done but yet he had. It was this friendship this basis of trust between the two of them that readied them for the upcoming battle in the very near future.
Of late people all over the lands have come under a spell of some sort. Geoffrey ae’Magi is the current ‘ae’Magi’, a master sorcerer who watches over the others like him least another Wizard War breaks out. His already far reaching influence has evolved, where he wasn’t much respected now they would arrest you for uttering a word against him. He was gathering power as he was followers. Aloran is assigned by her commander to get to the bottom of it, the original task was to gather intelligence but as events unfold she realized she had to do something to stop the ae’Magi. She and Wolf joins forces with an ousted young king of Rets and a straggle of exiles who were all running from the ae’Magi and his zombies.
In the end, I was hoping for some big confrontation but no they couldn’t allow it for a few reasons and the want of more action kind of disappointed me. It was a good book all in all with promising potential with the different aspects of the world building but Briggs ended Aloran and Wolf’s tale (pun not intended) in the next book (Wolfsbane) but continues with another cast of characters in the same setting (When Demons Walk and Steal the Dragon) To be perfectly clear, all four books are a part of the Sianim series, it’s only in Shifter’s Wolf where Masques and Wolfsbane are combined. So right now I’ve left the second half of this book for later.