Patricia Briggs writes wonderful urban fantasy. Until I read Masques, I had almost forgotten that she also writes really great classic fantasy as well. Masques is the first book in her Sianim series, which is being reprinted by Ace, and it is a great start.
Aralorn is a pretty cliché heroine for a fantasy novel except that she’s not pretty. As the bastard daughter of a powerful noble, Aralorn has all the makings of your typical female hero. She follows the script pretty well: she’s got magic, she’s good in a fight, and she doesn’t take orders from her boss. It’s funny because it’s the normal character sketch for an urban fantasy character as well. Briggs is so good at writing this character type, so Aralorn makes a great heroine.
Set in a classic fantasy world, Aralorn and her companion Wolf are faced with the task of spying on the most powerful Wizard, the ae’Magi. Using her magical powers, Aralorn discovers something about this powerful magic-user that forces her to oppose him. Along the way, Briggs gives us fairly straightforward plotlines to follow while keeping a good pace.
I really enjoyed Masques because it was like reading good urban fantasy without the urban. Patricia Briggs always creates interesting characters that you can really like, and for me that is central to a good story. Masques isn’t truly high or epic fantasy because the level of plot complexity and the scope of events is pretty simple. This makes for a nice niche where you don’t have to re-read things over and over to understand everything that’s going on. I am looking forward to Wolfsbane which will be re-released in November 2010.