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The Mask of the Sorcerer Hardcover – January 1, 1996

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Hardcover, January 1, 1996
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Science Fiction&Fantasy Book C (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739405810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739405819
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,848,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 7 customer reviews
He is a fantasy writing genius.
The book is ~380pages; I would have given this 5 stars if it could have somehow been reduced to ~300.
S E Lindberg
You should read this book because Schweitzer is an absolute master of fantasy prose.
Deuce Richardson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Tresca VINE VOICE on November 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought Mask of the Sorcerer from Darrell Schweitzer at World Fantasy Con. I was writing a modern horror novel at the time and was interested in seeing different takes on forbidden knowledge. Darrell fished out Mask of the Sorcerer.

As other reviewers have pointed out, the cover is awful. It looks like a guy wearing a mask, which is appropriate enough, except he seems to be holding one of those Godzilla-headed sticks that, when you press a lever, causes its mouth to open and close. In practice, this book is about Sebek-like crocodile-headed gods and monsters, but I don't think Schweitzer had Godzilla-sticks in mind when he wrote the book. Fortunately, I bought it from the author rather than off the shelf, so the cover didn't influence me much.

Set in a fantasy version of Ancient Egypt, Mask of the Sorcerer follows Sekenre, a boy who will become a sorcerer whether he likes it or not. His idyllic but simple life as a Reedlander is interrupted when his father, Vashtem, kills his mother and sister. Sekenre is left all alone to puzzle out what happened and why, but he is destined for greater things. The Sybil, an ancient crone who handles the mysteries of fate, has bigger plans for him and bestows three wishes for when he is in trouble.

The world in which Mask of the Sorcerer takes place in is richly detailed. Much is made about the way characters pronounce the names of certain gods, which determines where the person comes from. The notion of one's origins is a central to the book, as Sekenre unravels his father's past and his own.

A sorcerer is actually the sum of the sorcerers who have died at his hand. Thus, when Sekenre kills a sorcerer, he gains all the lives that were slain before him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S E Lindberg on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This will appeal to weird fiction readers who are looking for Lovecraftian atmosphere in an adventure novel form. This is not Sword & Sorcery, but will appeal to that same crowd (it is very dark... all sorcery).

This will NOT appeal to readers looking for soap-opera fantasy, young-adult fantasy, or a light read.

The first three Chapters were amongst the most bizarre, inspiring fantasy bits I have ever read. The pace slows after, but by then I was emotional connected to Sekenre's character. Note, it is difficult to string together a series of weird stories into a novel, since the pulp- style of writing is known to be highly dense with description. The genre works well with short stories. H.P. Lovecraft tried with a lengthy novella with "The Dream-Quest to Unknown Kadath," which I have yet to complete after three valiant tries (despite my urge to see how the reappearance of the artist Robert Pickman fares). Schweitzer does better here, taking the readers to the ambiguous lands of dreams and death, making us feel as disoriented as his cursed protagonist; at the moment we are about to become totally lost in trippy language, he brings us back to firm footing.

The battle scenes are intermittent but very vivid; given the lack of traditional weaponry, readers will be surprised by the brutality.

From the book's description I thought I would be immersed in traditional Egyptian mythology; not so. Egyptian setting/lore is clearly an inspiration for this, but as Christianity (the Crusades) served as a foundation for Schweitzer's "We Are All Legends", the author rapidly takes the reader beyond these influences. His work is anything but traditional or derivative.

The book is ~380pages; I would have given this 5 stars if it could have somehow been reduced to ~300.

Sequel: There is a standalone sequel called SEKENRE The Book of the Sorcerer, which I look forward to reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Meek VINE VOICE on March 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, I have to unburden myself: this book has one of the WORST covers I've ever seen. If you saw this in a bookstore, you wouldn't even pick it up because it's totally amateur hour. A completely horrifying marketing decision.

Anyway. This is a bit of an unusually structured novel, which takes place in a world modeled on Pharaonic Egypt. The protagonist, Sekenre, is the son of the centuries-old sorcerer Vashtem, and is an unwilling recipient of the gift and curse of sorcery. (To some degree, sorcerers here follow a system introduced in the completely unrelated movie "Highlander", in that they are quite keen to hunt down and slaughter each other, because to kill a sorcerer is to absorb all of his or her powers and memories.) After certain events, Sekenre is forced to leave the city of his birth, but has no friends, no prospects, and nowhere to go, and the sorcery that he fears and despises is borderline unreliable and scarcely under his conscious control.

He soon meets a pair of exiles, and in aiding them gets caught up in their schemes. Meanwhile, he has to learn to master his powers and to fight off other sorcerers, not to mention suppress the still-powerful personalities and memories of the dead sorcerers within his mind.

The unusual part of the structure is that for the vast majority of the book, Sekenre is always in the process of "becoming", as it were. He seems to drift wherever the wind takes him, and events happen to him, and he continues to react to what goes on around him, but very often he is a mere pawn and seldom is he active on his own behalf. Practically everyone around him seems to know more about his life and his talents and his destiny than he does.
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