Friday, April 29, 2011

Masques by Patricia Briggs

MasquesI believe that Masques was Briggs first novel, and evidently it was adequate to get her published, so she could follow up eventually with Mercy Thompson and friends. This book is mostly just classic fantasy, complete with an evil wizard, a plucky female lead, and her faithful shapeshifting wolf companion.

Aralorn, runaway daughter of a minor noble, is a shapeshifter and a spy for Ren, the spymaster of Sianim. Her assignment is to find out what she can at the court of the ae'Magi (archmage) Geoffrey, a well-beloved man who seems to have the magical situation in the land well under control. While she is there, she finds that Geoffrey is not the angelic figure he pretends to be, but that he is guilty of using black magic, fueled by pain, blood and death, to consolidate his power and influence.

There is a branch of the royal family that is immune to magic whom he is unable to influence with his charismatic spells, and Aralorn makes contact with the heir of that family, Myr, while she is spying at the court of the ae'Magi. When Geoffrey plots to capture or kill Myr, Aralorn goes AWOL from her next assignment to join his loyalists hiding in the mountains where Geoffrey's magic doesn't reach.

Sometime much earlier, Aralorn rescued a wolf from a pit trap who was actually a shapeshifter. Wolf has been her somewhat constant companion ever since, and he also is part of the resistance to the ae'Magi. Wolf has a more personal reason, though, as he is really Cain, the ae'Magi's son, who fled after being accused of working black magic. He had actually done so, under his father's tutelage, but had come to regret his evil ways and fled from his father's control.

The quest is relatively straightforward - kill Geoffrey and free the kingdom from his evil. The main problem with this novel, in my opinion, is that Geoffrey suffers from the same conceit as the Bond villains, he wants to gloat over his victims rather than just killing them quickly. This gives Aralorn just enough opportunities to escape him so that she can defeat him in the end. A good first effort by Briggs, but she's written much better.

1 comment:

Judith Leger said...

Just blogging by! Yay for the blog hops and follow fridays! Blackberry Summer is my upcoming release I want to read and I listed my shelter books on my blog.

Judith Leger - Paran/Fantasy Romance
w/a L.J. Leger - YA Fantasy
w/a Jadette Paige - Erotic