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Review: Masques by Patricia Briggs

Masques by Patricia Briggs
Fantasy, Shapeshifters
Mass Market Paperback $7.99 (320 pages, ACE)
Ebook $6.99
Audiobook $24.99

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?
Author Site: www.patriciabriggs.com

Charming in its flaws. (4 stars)

I am terribly partial to Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series for a wide variety of reasons you can read in my reviews of its novels. Yet I managed to really dislike her spin-off Alpha and Omega stories. Funny how that works eh? Keeping that in mind please understand, dear reader, that I am primarily an urban fantasy fanatic, not a rabid reader of high fantasy. I do enjoy it, I just find most of it too epic to hold my interest for extended periods of time. How could I pass up the chance to try a favorite author's debut novel as an audiobook though?

Masques is one of those stories filled with the usual tropes and trappings consistent with epic fantasy. Very little of this story is particularly original (and this is coming from a reader who hasn't dabbled deeply into the "traditional" fantasy shelves). Aralorn is annoyingly "Mary-Sue", seeming to be good at everything with very few flaws or weaknesses, yet I found it to be a little strangely endearing. Knowing this is Briggs' first published novel it is easy to excuse some of these type of "no-nos", having read much of her later work it's enjoyable to see her growth as a writer.

The story itself is a little tedious, the villain is grossly villainy. The hero is oh-so-mysterious and a little bit creepy. I honestly couldn't see any chemistry between them but I was listening to the book and perhaps it translates better in print. And there in lays what I think won me over to giving this story an "I liked it" rating. The audio version is very well performed, the voices and accents adding a certain amount of characterization that the writing itself seemed not to have. The tale's pacing was a bit staggered and some of the actions chosen felt a bit unrealistic but overall this was a great listen.

If you're not a big high fantasy reader and you really want to give this one a try I do highly recommend giving the audiobook a chance. I think fans of her later work would especially enjoy seeing the dramatic growth Briggs has made in her writing.

Other Reviews:

Notes: Audiobook Review Copy Received via Amazon Vine.

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