Masques is a comfort book. The kind of book you pull out on cold wet days and enjoy with a nice warm blanket and a cup of hot tea. While certainly no Tolkien, Robert Jordan or Anne McCaffrey, Patricia Briggs knows how to tell an emotionally satisfying tale.
We begin the audio book with an author read introduction which explains the real world context within which the book was written. I loved her final 'compromise', in that she admits to fleshing details in the book out with a rewrite, while taking nothing away from the original novel.
As far as the story itself, it is an emotionally satisfying tale, with main characters that are interestingly flawed. This is no epic, but it was enjoyable, and had a few interesting twists and surprises along the way. The two main characters had great chemistry, and the romance between them built comfortably and believably throughout the story.
As far as the reader, she did an excellent job maintaining individual voices for several of the key characters. Her timing and general storytelling skills were definitely great. Sometimes her 'excitement' when reading action passages was noticeable, but it didn't really detract from the story or my enjoyment of it at all.
To summarize: Satisfying, cozy story of sword, sorcery and romance.
I was working on Comptia Project+ certification, and this was a great study aid. Especially useful if you ride the bus or have other down time where it is nice to just sit back and relax while listening.
Finding Brandon Sanderson through his handling of the final three Robert Jordan books, I was thrilled to see an epic fantasy narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. As a whole, the book was incredibly detailed in some of the world-building aspects, but unlike other authors, the character development didn't suffer.
Although I normally enjoy stories that are long, I admit that there were times I was squirming a bit, more curious about the main story than every single detail of a flashback (a few too long and drawn out for my tastes). And the story does take a little bit to get going. That aside, I quickly fell in love with the characters, and while at first I felt a little at a loss with a world rich in unique customs, the author did a decent job acclimating you through the experiences of the characters. Perhaps some of my impatience, at times, was wanting to find out what happened to them, as I feel that the author sometimes is too enmeshed in a rather thrilling situation to deliver us to the point.
Although they are subtly linked, you are essentially getting what I felt were more like two distinct books with very little storyline overlap barring vague references. Additionally, the endings were satisfying, and perhaps well-worth a sometimes circuitous journey. There are chapter headings, quotes, that accompany each chapter. These confused me the whole book, but they are finally explained towards the last chapter (or epilogue).
Kate Reading and Michael Kramer? My favorite readers of all time, they could probably read anything and I'd tolerate it, luckily this book has me eagerly awaiting a sequel I sincerely hope they will also narrate!
If you like the cheap romances churned out by harlequin, you will love this, I think. The author writes in an engaging way, and Kate Reading gives a fantastic performance, as always.
Otherwise, unless you want the story of an air-headed, simple-minded female with absurd 'luck' and a story about pushing her and her love interest together in nearly every scene possible to write flirtatiously and salaciously, this is NOT for you. Unfortunately, for me to enjoy fiction, I need there to be more than a bare suggestion of realism. I find the main character, Amy, naive, innocent and rather simple-minded, but incredibly lucky in accomplishing what she tries to do. There are no consequences to her choices, she doesn't really grow. Within two days of arriving in Paris, she has fallen in love, uncovered a major plot, encountered a cliche rough situation with an overly aggressive and written-to-be-hated cliche man, experience a pretty-heavy make-out session in a public place (which seems at odds with her character), .... the list goes on (and on... and on... and on....
I should have read the reviews before purchasing. The trouble is, if the plot had been better, the situation less rushed... I may have liked the story. She even neuters Napoleon! The man as portrayed in her story, I have a hard time believing could conquer anything, though he appears pretty briefly.
I am having a hard time even finishing the story, as I'm not interested in the sex, or the various descriptions of lips and bosoms and touching... I was really hoping for a historical fiction, and if some of the above were scattered in amongst the story I would have been fine. But it seems like a story about getting the characters to a point where they have romantic encounters in the most contrived and torturous way possible. If that's what you want out of the story, then you will be very happy. But if you wanted something smacking of rich historical fiction, you will be sadly disappointed.
The sad thing is I actually like the way the author writes, though the plot and content leave much to be desired. Perhaps it's just the way Kate Reading conveys the story that makes it just palatable enough to continue listening.
The narrator really makes this audiobook a success. He catches the mannerisms and vocal qualities of several distinct characters, making it easy to tell who is talking. The book is very character driven, which is my favorite style. Not as much action until the end.
I will say I thought this tale was nicely woven together. It's an interesting series and well worth a credit.
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