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Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
Source: I received a free copy of this from NetGalley with the option of leaving an honest review.
Genre: Fantasy, Epic
Format: eBook, Print
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Series: This is part of a series, but the title of the series is still unknown.

Review

Sallot Leon dreams of getting revenge on the noble elite who invaded their homeland. leaving them homeless and eeking out an existence as a thief and highway robber. When Sal robs a noble's carriage, they find an invitation to audition to become a member of The Left Hand, The Queen's elite assassins who are named after the gems that their rings bear.

Sal sees this as an opportunity to get their revenge for the destruction of their homeland. However, Sal soon discovers the reason why there isn't much information to be gleaned about the auditions; the auditions are fights to the death where the last person standing wins the coveted title. Sal, a street criminal, is physically and mentally unprepared for the challenges that the trials bring. Using the street smarts that they gained living on the streets, Sal must quickly learn the assassin's trade in order to earn the coveted title and avenge the injustices they endured.

First things first, it seems that the buzz around this book is due to the fact that Sal is gender fluid. While gender fluid protagonists are not typical in most of the fiction I've read and Miller's interpretation is unique, the notion of gender fluid protagonists is not unique to readers who have read the Valdemar Series by Mercedes Lackey. Since I am a fan of Lackey's series, the fact that Sal was gender fluid didn't even cause me to do a double-take.

I thoroughly enjoyed the world building and character creation in the plot. The setting is very complex and I found myself enthralled by the history and intrigue within the setting. The political and social elements are intriguing but I found myself wishing that they had been explained in greater detail. In some ways, the characters reminded me of Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar Series because most come from areas that were decimated by a war and quite a few characters are veterans who saw the horrors of the war. It seemed that the characters, especially the protagonists, had interesting histories that were hinted at but not fully revealed. I get the feeling that more about Sal, the rest of The Left Hand, and the war that displaced Sal will be disclosed as the series unfolds.

I was so entranced by Mask of Shadows that I read it in a day and a half. It took another half-day to read because I tried to read it during my breaks at work, and found that I got so caught up in the book that I was almost late returning to work from my breaks. It's a fast-paced book so it can be hard to put down once you start reading it.

If you are a fan of Mercedes Lackey who enjoys the world building and character creation found in the Valdemar Series, Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller will grab your attention. If you are more interested in the book because of the "controversial" or "uncommon" gender fluid protagonist, you will be disappointed since there is more to Sal's character than how they self-identify.

About Linsey Miller

Linsey Miller, author
Linsey Miller, author. Courtesy of Goodreads.
A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, neuroscience lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in September 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

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I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the continuation of this fantastic series!

Mask of Shadows, Linsey Miller, Fantasy, Epic