Orbit. p/b. Â£9.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins
The wolf and the mage inside him flee, close to death. His magic does not work here. Finally when exhaustion has set in he falls into an old trap and asks for death to take him. Instead a young mercenary, Aralorn, finds him, and to Wolfâ€™s surprise he allows her to help him. It seems his curiosity about this young woman is stronger than his desire to die.
Four years later Aralorn finds herself spying on the aeâ€™Magi himself from the unfortunate position trapped inside a cage on display in his ballroom. This wasnâ€™t quite what she expected when she used her shapeshifting abilities to take the place of his slave girl. But Aralorn is talented and she knows she will soon be gone from this place and back to freedom with Wolf at her side.
Unfortunately her experience of the aeâ€™Magi, his coldness and evil desires, stay with her after she leaves his palace. It is not long before Aralorn and her troubled companion must battle against the most powerful sorcerer, and the creatures he has at his command. Plus there is Wolfâ€™s secret to uncover and over time Aralorn realises just how perilous their predicament is.
Aralorn is an able heroine who uses her talents without ego and with caution â€“ shapeshifting is as natural to her as breathing, at least when it comes to the animals she has practised being, and she knows better than to try and stretch beyond her abilities. The growing and complex relationship between her and Wolf is central to the story and adds depth to this traditional fantasy. The fact that both of their points of view are depicted throughout the novels makes this even more effective.
Masques was Briggsâ€™ first novel, and its sequel, Wolfsbane, was not written until some years later. In this dual edition Wolfsbane begins with an authorâ€™s note that locates the story in Briggâ€™s career and explains why she wrote it. Although there is a visible difference in the pacing of the stories and the tightness of the writing, as a sequel Wolfsbane delivers an exciting conclusion and the paring of the books works comfortably in completing Aralornâ€™s story.