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Masques by Patricia Briggs


by Patricia Briggs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sianim (1), Aralorn (1)

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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Aralorn, a short, plain, and outspoken young lady who always hated to “sit and sew” in her father’s court, works as a mercenary and spy. She’s not particularly good with the sword (the staff is her weapon of choice), but her shapeshifting ability is a pretty useful skill. She’s sometimes aided by the wolf she saved a few years ago. He comes and goes and Aralorn knows that he’s more than he seems. When the evil mage Jeffrey starts planning world domination, Aralorn and Wolf plan to stop him.

Masques kept me entertained for 9 hours and 48 minutes (I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version). Though there’s nothing new in Patricia Briggs’ debut novel, and not much that surprised or inspired me, it was pleasantly diverting. Masques is definitely predictable in places and it relies on a few too many convenient occurrences as well as several too-common fantasy elements, but Aralorn and Wolf are likable and well-developed. I’m not exactly attached to them, but I’d enjoy hearing more of their story in the sequel, Wolfsbane.

For me, one of the most interesting parts of Masques was the introduction by Patricia Briggs. She describes the history of the book (she started it in college), how she wrote it before she knew anything about writing, how she was shocked that it sold, and how poorly it did. It went out of print, but started selling for hundreds of dollars on the used market after she became successful with her other novels, including the very popular Mercy Thompson series. (I remember seeing those astounding prices for Masques when I constructed this page 3 years ago!). When Ace decided to publish Wolfsbane (out next week), they decided to reprint Masques (ha ha to all you folks who paid $250!) and invited Ms. Briggs to revise her debut novel. When she sat down to work on the first chapter, she was “squirming uncomfortably all the way through.” She makes it clear that she’s not completely enamored with her first effort, but that if she changed it to how she’d write it today, it would no longer be Masques. Thus, she polished it up a bit but left it mostly the same.

This audiobook was read by Katherine Kellgren who I admired when she read Tobias Buckell’s The Executioness. She has a pleasant enthusiastic voice and speaks at a nice quick pace. I especially like her female voices because they’re not too high-pitched. I didn’t care too much for her voice for Wolf, though. His voice is supposed to be rough, so I think that’s what she was going for, but it just sounded old to me. However, this issue is not enough to keep me from listening to Wolfsbane.

Masques is a must-read for Patricia Briggs fans — they’ll definitely be interested in this debut novel. It’s a fun story and makes a nice bit of history. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
First of all if you are New to Patricia Briggs Do Not Start With This Book! Read either the Mercy Thompson or Alpha & Omega series these are both fantastic and should be your introduction to Briggs.

There is an introduction to this by the author who says that she wrote this book when she was a teen did a rewrite and this was her first book long since out of print, then after she started selling with the Mercy Thompson and the Alpha & Omega series they talked her into re-releasing this book she decided not to change much of it and hoped fans would still enjoy it. Well I did BUT it is no Mercy Thompson!

The story was good but the writing didn’t flow as well as her later books and the story didn’t grab me immediately and not let go like her newer books do. I will read the next in the series because I already own it but I know that there are 2 series Sianim, #1 / Aralorn, #1 and I’m not sure if I should read the Sianim 2 &3 before I read #2 in the Aralorn because it is #4 in Sianim which is a little confusing so will have to do some research as which way I should read them. I did enjoy the characters of Aralorn & Wolf and look forward to more from them.

Katherine Kellgren was the narrator and of course you can’t go wrong with her narrations however it was odd to hear her with an American accent, she does do it so very well but almost every book I’ve listened to she has a British accent but as always all of her accents and characters are very distinct and well done!

This isn’t a bad book, it just doesn’t live up to her newer works.

3 stars ( )
  susiesharp | Feb 19, 2014 |
I think this book shows the promise of what an amazing author Patricia Briggs becomes, but this book was hard going at times. Nice world building, but a little tired and done before. This is one thing she mentions in the intro, but for those covetous fans like me who like to glom an authors entire backlist, this was worth a read. ( )
  sharrow | Sep 21, 2013 |
I'm normally the type of reader who skips introductions, but when I clicked open Masques on my Kindle and read, "One day, in the middle of my senior year of college, I decided to write a book..." I kept reading. I'm glad I did, because it had a huge effect on how I felt about Masques.

Masques is Patricia Briggs' first book. It feels like a first book. Her later books are much, much better in almost every way. Masques is really jerky, sometimes jumping ahead, sometimes dawdling. A lot of the scenes that ought to be tense and climactic are drawn out and chopped up to the point that they lose their impact. There's so much infodumping dialogue it's hilarious. The main character, Aralorn (and I never stopped finding this name horribly silly) will be sitting around doing nothing, and then someone will trot up and say, "Big news! Here's what happened! Blah blah blah!"

Along the same lines, the backbone of the novel is Aralorn's relationship with Wolf. The prologue tells us how they met; then we skip forward four years to a point where their relationship is firmly established. We're told about how slowly and carefully they'd approached one another, building closeness and trust in scarce dribs and drabs. But in Masques, when Wolf has a deep dark secret that he's been guarding for all these years, and Aralorn says, "Hey, Wolf, why don't you tell me this secret of yours?" he'll be like, "Ok, I guess it's time! Here's the secret, blah blah blah." I was amazed that Masques could be so ham-handed when I think that Briggs' later books are remarkable for their subtlety.

I'd say Masques is really only interesting for people who are serious fans of Patricia Briggs, and want to find out how she became the wonderful author that she is. I guess that's why the introduction had such an effect on me. It helped me realize how brave it is for Briggs to let this book see the light of day. Masques is fascinating and inspiring, but mostly because of its flaws. It's like a picture of a staggeringly beautiful movie star as a pimply teenager with bad hair and a goofy grin.

At the end of the day, I still liked it. There was something about the story that hooked me and made me want to keep reading. I think I like Patricia Briggs more rather than less now that I've read it, although I'm really glad that her newer books are so much better. ( )
  MlleEhreen | Sep 20, 2013 |
I loved the magic here, and the dragon, and the mystery, and Aralorn is a great heroine! I continue to LOVE strong women in my books these days :) I look forward to Wolfsbane coming out later this month! Hopefully, I'll have time to read in in between all my tests and essays coming up. ( )
  Lexxie | Apr 23, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia Briggsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
DeFex, Annette FioreCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delon, MelanieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enzweiler, MichaelMapsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The 2010 edition is a revision of the original 1993 publication.  This revision was done before the publication of a sequel, as noted in the author's introduction in the 2010 edition.
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"After an upbringing of proper behaviour and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. But her latest mission involves more peril that she ever imagined. Agents of Stanim have asked her to gather intelligence on the increasingly popular and powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. Soon Aralorn comes to see past the man's striking charisma--and into a soul as corrup and black as endless night. And few have the will to resist the sinister might of the ae'Magi and his minions. So Aralorn, aided by her engimatic companion, Wolf, joins the rebellion against the ae'Magi. But in a war against a foe armed with the power of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is--or where he will strike next?"--Cover.… (more)

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