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Sunday, August 20, 2017
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Sal's life is one of stealth and swiftness. After a war that ruined the lands and completely annihilated Nacea and its people...his people, he had to resort to thievery in order to survive. But one fateful encounter with a lady will change his path from one of stealing goods to one of stealing lives for revenge....
The queen now rules over the lands and has put an end to dark runes and magic. But her reign is in time of shifting and danger, where she must be protected at all costs. To ensure the safety of the queen four Hands, or assassins are assigned to her: Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal. But when one of the hands die, an audition opens to replace this position. Twenty-three people come forward to audition, from noblemen to thieves, including Sal and his thirst for vengeance of those nobles who killed his people.
But realization begins to dawn when the rules of the audition are explained. Only one will survive and that person will become Opal. Everyone who auditions will have the opportunity to kill or be killed. It's a fight to the death and one Sal intends to win.
As the deadly audition begins, trickery and conniving create a cat and mouse game that slowly decimates the twenty-three to three...but who will win and become the new Hand? And are the liaisons people they can trust or not?
Miller weaves a tale that will enthrall fantasy readers. Although the book does contain violent episodes, it also contains elements of castles, magic, truth and romance. Miller adeptly creates a world where even those you think are safe aren't, and those that are evil don't succumb to good. In the events that surround Sal and those he must fight against, lies a small but very unique part of the main character's life. She introduces the reader to a gender fluid character, but like those assassins and auditioners in this book, she introduces him subtly and without fanfare, making this topic understated instead of in your face. For the more mature fantasy reader, the novel has hints of GoT readers will find and the story will have them begging for the next installment. Highly recommended. HS