* This review is for the 2nd Edition Brilliance Audiobook version *
I'm a fan of the audiobook format because I find myself lacking the time to sit down and read much these days, and also because I enjoy the delivery of a good narrator. I admit that at first I found Katherine Kellgren's vocal stylings a bit off-putting, but I warmed to them by the end of disc one. I found her manner overly "hoity toity", an impression that only stayed with me for the first half-hour. I am glad I stuck with it and did not let my initial impression end up being my final one. Ms. Kellgren is a talented narrator who is good at setting a mood and portraying a variety of character. Her voice might not be for everyone though.
The format of the discs themselves may or may not be to your liking. Instead of being broken up by chapters, each CD has about 99 tracks, broken up into thirty second to two minute long segments. It may seem a bit much at first, but if you move the disc between players, it makes it fairly easy to quickly find where you left off listening. The Brilliance Audio mastering is good and the sound rich and clear.
You may have noticed that I've yet to mentioned the story. Masques is a first novel by popular author Patricia Briggs (of Mercy Thompson fame) and has already been reviewed to extensively. A forward by the author notes that she reworked the manuscript to eliminate some of the awkwardness of her early writing and to improve the flow of the story. I can't speak to how the first version read, but even though it lacks the maturity and complexity of a seasoned author, I still found it to be an engaging tale. While character development and world building was somewhat bare-bones for a full length novel, the story moves along at a good pace and kept me interested. It follows the adventures of the shape-shifting spy Aralorn and her mysterious companion Wolf as they try to find a way to overthrow a powerful wizard known as the ae'Magi who has ensorcelled the minds of most of the populace and has an army of undead at his beck and call. Not overly original fantasy fare, but entertaining and I did come to care about the main characters.
Masques is not one of the better fantasy novel I have ever read, but Ms. Briggs knows how to spin a good yarn and involve the reader with the characters. I will likely read/listen to the recently written follow up novel Wolfsbane, though I'm in no great hurry.
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