Rated it: 3½ stars Recommend it to: Fans of the fantasy genre; shape shifters, period fantasy novels.
This is my second review of Masques (if you’re curious this is the first)
I was excited to read a couple of the first books by Patricia Briggs, a natural compulsion being I’m a fan of her Mercy Thompson series. Basically Shifter’s Wolf is an anthology, Masques and Wolfsbane both set in a fictional realm of a mercenary and spy from Sianim and her enigmatic companion, Wolf.
Mrs. Briggs did mention that it might not meet up to her current standard of writing that her recent readers are accustomed to since she was, obviously, a novice back then. The books went out of print until lately and she didn’t want to change anything from the original plot, only to brush up and polish what was there so that their first readers can come back to something familiar and for us, the new lot, so we won’t find it terribly juvenile. I think that’s very thoughtful and sweet of her.
I didn’t know what to expect, but now after reading it I can say I’m content. I wasn’t impressed with the first book, Masques, at the initial reading. On the second, I came to appreciate the effort to come up with this story line even as simple it might seem.
When I said simple I meant the language as well as the story. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t stellar either. That’s okay though, we all start from somewhere and then continue to build upwards.
The ae’Magi is a magician who has monitors all the other mages least they go astray to the darker arts, there as a precaution to prevent another wizarding war. The thing is that this particular master magician, Geoffrey, is a dark mage himself but only acts under the guise of this genial, affable god father to all. Spymaster Ren, aka the ‘mouse’, sent the closet shape shifter, Aralorn, into choppy waters. She’s tasked to infiltrate the ae’Magi’s stronghold to gather information, based on a hunch the Mouse had. Was it coincidence that she discovered the future king of Reth on the run? As both her and Wolf would tell you Ren doesn’t believe in such things, coincidences. (I remember Tony DiNozo at that point, NCIS anyone?).
Geoffrey ae’Magi, they soon discovered, was manipulating people from all across the land, people of varying loyalties are now in his thrall of charismatic magic. Oh, and he was growing in power ever increasingly, it’s source a ghastly scar, shiny and bumpy over the fragile material of life. What does he want? What does he plan to do with all of that magic? Surely he couldn’t contain much more much less use it. That’s why he’s scouring the kingdoms for the one man capable of channeling an unprecedented magnitude of power. The one that escaped years before. His son, Cain, the one whose dark reputation was whispered in shadows.
The ending was lacking a bit but I’ll tell you that the second book, Wolfsbane, makes up for it. The way I see it is that Briggs was just laying the groundwork My final say on this first installation? A solid 3½ stars bordering on a 4. I wouldn’t recommend this as an intro to someone in the urban fantasy genre because though it might seem like it at first, this falls under the category of only ‘fantasy’, and it might discourage further reading into the urban sub genre.
Masques and Wolfsbane are books in the Sianim series, Shifter’s Wolf being an anthology. Click on over here if you want a clearer view of things, it was a bit confusing for me in the beginning.