Voidhawk.com Book and film reviews

29Oct/170

“The Ruling Mask” by Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto

Ruling Mask

I enjoyed both “Duchess of the Shallows” and “The Fall of Ventaris” so I was looking forward to the third book in this series. The series has established something of a formula in which Duchess needs to come up with a scheme to do some seemingly impossible task (in this case involving the heist of a sacred family heirloom of one of Rodaas’ most prominent families) while simultaneously trying to find out more about her heritage and the city’s secrets and carrying out half a dozen other smaller schemes just for good measure. I think it’s a formula that works well and each book has been steadily increasing the stakes which stops the series feeling repetitive. I think it’s been doing a good job of gradually revealing the background world-building and we are starting to finally get a few answers about the mysterious figure Duchess only knows as “P” whose manipulations seem to be behind many of the events that are occurring. There’s also increasing depth to the world-building, with this book adding a focus on the battles for supremacy between the city’s different religious cults. If I had one criticism for the plotting it would be that occasionally Duchess’ elaborate schemes seem to work better than they have any right to, but this is a fairly small flaw. There is some acknowledgement that even Duchess can’t make everything always work out with a subplot in which one member of her gang does something which leads to a major moral dilemma in which she has to balance her own interests against the well-being of someone working for her.

The characterisation has always been good in the series and although the first book largely focused on Duchess and Lysander over time an interesting ensemble cast has built up, all of whom have their own motivations and agendas ranging from just wanting to build a life in a hostile city to more complex struggles for political advantage. It’s interesting to try to work out what all the different characters want, with many of them remaining fairly enigmatic so it’s difficult to really know how much a character like Minette is really a genuine ally to Duchess, although there are occasional exceptions where some characters seem a bit too willing to explain their motivations to someone they barely know.

Overall, I’d probably say this was a bit better than the first book and maybe not quite as good as “The Fall of Ventaris”. It is an entertaining book to read and I’m definitely interested in reading more of this story.

Rating : 8 / 10

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