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City of Masks Kindle Edition
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|Length: 128 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
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after reading the first few pages of this book you are probably going to think you will hate it, but give it a chance! really! basically it opens with the main character's brother-in-law complaining about what an idiot the MC is and how his wife [MC's sister] won't sleep with him until he appoints the MC to some important position which he OBVIOUSLY doesn't deserve because he's so useless and i'm like OH MY GOD I HATE THIS MAN ALREADY? WHAT AN ANNOYING PERSON? but never fear because we then leave him ENTIRELY for the rest of the novel. score.
anyway this is just such an interesting concept - that everyone in the city wears masks at all times. and sometimes a person will cycle between 3 or 4 different masks because you are only allowed to behave a certain way while wearing a certain mask. like if your mask doesn't allow you to have a sword you'll be arrested for even carrying it, but if your mask allows you to fight then you won't even probably get in trouble if you duel with someone and kill them because you are 'supposed to' act that way because of your mask. it's really fascinating and the way the characters justify all this behavior is amazing.
the plot is a fairly standard murder mystery, although there are some surprise reveals at the end. and the style is rather ....antiquated i guess. i mean it's written through journal entries and kind of reads like something that could have been published a hundred years ago. but it's a fun time and a great concept and like i said the ending does put a few new twists on some things. i'm definitely going to try this author's hand of the trickster series because it also seems like a very interesting concept.
The alternate world of this story is a city, Bonvidaeo, where everyone wears a mask at all times. Not only does everyone wear a mask but everyone is supposed to behave in a manner appropriate to the mask being worn, and there are restriction on who can wear what masks when. In fact, the city has adopted (and enforced) a religious doctrine called "characterism" which asserts that the person wearing the mask is the mask and must be treated accordingly. Opposing this is an underground which preaches the heretical doctrine of "personalism," the idea that the mask and the person are two separate entities.
The story centers around this religious dispute and a series of grisly murders that touches upon it.
The book is told in first-person via the memoirs and journals of several characters. Most of it is from the point of view of a foreign envoy who is there to represent his nation and the immigrants from it into the city of Bonvidaeo, one of whom is the first known victim of the killer. In the course of tracking down the murderer, a twisted political plot is uncovered, love is found, surprises arise behind the masks, there is swordplay, an assassination plot, a beautiful and devious and powerful woman, and, of course, quite a bit of disguise and impersonation. This sort of first-person writing is hard to bring off successfully but Reeves does succeed in giving each perspective its own voice. I am going to give this book five stars for superior characterization, plot, and writing style, all three, although none of them stood out enough to justify five stars by itself.
The pace may be a little slow for readers accustomed to books packed with action, but there is plenty of action in this story.
In a speculative fiction book like this, with an intricate society, it's indispensable to have a character like Bass as protagonist, who needs to learn the rules of his new home the same way the reader does. The rules of mask etiquette are detailed and internally consistent, and shape everything about the plot. But there is still a plot, and an exciting one; the book's not just an excuse to pontificate about an alternate society.
This book has all the twists and revelations you'd expect from a story of courtly intrigue, and all the mistaken identities you'd expect from a story where everyone wears masks. There are thoughtful themes about identity woven throughout.
I listened to this as a free audiobook on Podiobooks.com, and loved Reeves-McMillan's subtle delivery and choice of music. His Kiwi accent was lots of fun to my American ears, and helped establish the courtly atmosphere for me.