Patricia Briggs: Masques

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Patricia Briggs Masques
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Masques: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae'Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is—or where he will strike next?

Patricia Briggs: другие книги автора

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(The first book in the Sianim series)

A novel by Patricia Briggs

With love to my parents:

Harvey C. Rowland


Betty J. Rowland

1920 -1992


One day, in the middle of my senior year of college, I decided to write a book. I’d written a few things before. Nothing so complex as an actual short story (aside from a few five-hundred-word shorts for various high-school assignments and one memorably bad story I’d written in German in lieu of a report), but scenes and scraps of dialogue. I’d never met an author, never gone to an SF convention, when I set out to write this book. And for the next few years I wrote, and rewrote, the first ten pages of my novel. Those ten pages, I might add, are the first thing I cut for this edition. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself muttering those lines: The great hall of the castle was his favorite room . . .

With our newly minted degrees, my husband and I set out for the wilds of Chicago, where Mike had taken a job as an aquarist with the John G. Shedd Aquarium (we do seem to have had a lot of interesting if not lucrative careers, my husband and I) and I began working at an insurance office. The Greater Chicago area had seven and a half million people. My home state of Montana (in the 1990s) had eight hundred thousand people—in the whole state. Suddenly my manuscript represented more than a challenge—it was an escape. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Chicago—I just didn’t love living with seven and a half freaking million people.

We stayed a full year before culture shock sent us racing homeward, and about that time, somewhat to my surprise, I had finished the book.

I knew that I knew nothing about writing a book when I started it. So I took those things I did know and stuck with them. The plot, my patient husband pointed out, had been done before—but I was okay with that. The important thing to me was that I’d actually finished the book. It shocked and amazed me when the book actually sold.

Masques, when it came out, was what my husband likes to call an extremely limited edition. That’s husband speak for “It sold very poorly.” Fortunately, before my publisher figured out just how poorly it had done, they’d bought Steal the Dragon as well. My second book, blessed by a terrific Royo cover and a writer who had figured out a little more about writing, did a lot better than the first. Masques went out of print the month Steal the Dragon came out back in 1995, and hasn’t been in print since.

Years passed by, my career started to pick up, and Masques started to command higher prices on the secondary market. If I had a box of twenty-four copies left, I could sell them on eBay for more than I sold the publication rights for the original novel.

With that in mind, I took out the unpublished sequel, Wolfsbane, blew off the dust, and did an extensive polishing run. I sent the result to my editor and asked about reprinting Masques and publishing Wolfsbane. She agreed and asked me if I wanted to revise Masques before they released it. Absolutely, I said. Please. And that was about the time I got a call asking me if I’d like to try my hand at an urban fantasy first. With the subsequent success of the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega novels, Masques and Wolfsbane got put on the back burner for a few years.

Finally, I had a bit of breathing room and sat down for the first time in a decade or so to start reading Masques. I had intended to do a brief polishing run. I read the first chapter (squirming uncomfortably all the way through) and turned to my husband. “By golly,” I said (or words to that effect). “Why didn’t someone tell me I needed to use a few descriptions?”

When I wrote Masques, I was in my twenties and hadn’t even finished a short story worthy of the name. I knew nothing about writing. The only tool I had in my craftbox was that I loved the fantasy genre and had read a lot of books. Twenty years later, I’ve written more than fifteen books, discussed/argued writing with a number of enormously skilled craftspeople—and learned a lot in the process. But that same experience also means I could not write Masques now.

Thus, fixing the book and still allowing it to be the same story, my first story, became quite a problem.

In the end, Masques and I have come to a compromise. Though I have added a bit to the beginning, I have not taken away any of the original pieces of the story (much as it sometimes pained me). I just fit those pieces together a little better. I left in most of the clichés and the oddities that, if I were editing an unpublished work, I would have removed. Thus, I hope that those few of you who read the original and remember it fondly will feel as though this is an expanded version of the same story. And that those of you who are only familiar with my later, more polished work won’t be disappointed.


The wolf stumbled from the cave, knowing that someone was searching for him and he couldn’t protect himself this time. Feverish and ill, his head throbbing so hard that it hurt to move, he couldn’t pull his thoughts together.

After all this time, after all of his preparations, he was going to be brought down by an illness.

The searcher’s tendrils spread out again, brushing across him without recognition or pause. The Northlands were rife with wild magic—which is why other magic couldn’t work correctly here. The searcher looked for a wizard and would never notice the wolf who concealed the man in its shape unless the fever betrayed him.

He should lie low, it was the best defense . . . but he was so afraid, and his illness clogged his thoughts.

Death didn’t frighten him; he sometimes thought he had come here seeking it. He was more afraid he wouldn’t die, afraid of what he would become. Perhaps the one who looked for him was just idly hunting—but when he felt a third sweep, he knew it was unlikely. He must have given himself away somehow. He’d always known that he would be found one day. He’d just never thought it would be when he was so weak.

He fought to blend better with the form he’d taken, to lose himself in the wolf. He succeeded.

The fourth sizzle of magic, the searcher’s magic, was too much for the wolf. The wolf was a simpler creature than the mage who hid within him. If he was frightened, he attacked or ran. There was no one here to attack, so he ran.

It wasn’t until the wolf was tired that he could gather his humanity—that was a laugh, his humanity—well then, he gathered himself together and stopped running. His ribs ached with the force of his breath and the tough pads of his feet were cut by stones and an occasional crystal of ice from a land where the sun would never completely melt winter’s gift. He was shivering though he felt hot, feverish. He was sick.

He couldn’t keep running—and it wasn’t only the wolf who craved escape—because running wasn’t escape, not from what he fled.

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