Mask of Shadows Hardcover – September 5, 2017
I gratefully and proudly received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
An utterly magnificent book! This is the reason I read fantasy, to be plunged headfirst into worlds that are so richly detailed and perfectly built that I am swept away with heroes that! Astounding! Outstanding! A modern fantasy classic! A sure front runner for the James Triptree Jr Award.
This is truly bound to be a a classic because of the unique hero and layered world with a complete history that most writers would be hard-pressed to create. In fact, many masters have spent many books and years creating worlds of such integrity. Miss Miller’s work reminds me of masterpieces of fantasy in the same way The Hunger Games compares to Lois Lowry and Goldberg’s Lord of the Flies.
Sallot/Twenty-Three is gender fluent and we are never shown his/her birth gender or why exactly this is. That is part of the mystery and the perfection. Sal’s voice is also unique. S/he is moral, in his/her own way, but clearly is willing to do what others are not in order to set things right. Sal’s family and country were swept away in a war by a weapon of destruction forged from magic. That magic, and all magic, were swept away to stop the war and that weapon. Now, Sal is trying to set the scales of universal straight but whatever means it takes. Sal has become a thief, highwayman to survive, and after robbing a particularly wonderful Elise, discovers an invitation to an audition to become the new Queen’s Opal, an assassin, one of four, that maintain the peace.
The plot is foolproof, and laid out patiently, yet there is never a chance to take a break. Every character is complete, interesting and flawed the way living people are. Sal’s voice is perhaps the most unique and consistent that I’ve ever experienced and I am thrilled to have read this book. This is a book I will return to, read and read again.