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The Shattered Mask by Richard Lee Byers

Posted by travizzt on October 28, 2009

Shamar Uskevren has been living a lie for years and married to a man she could never love. Why would she submit herself to this? For revenge.


The Shattered Mask by Richard Lee Byers is the third book in the Sembia: Gateway to the Realms. The story centers around Shamar Uskevren, the matriarch of House Uskevren. The story follows closely with Richard Lee Byers short story in The Halls of Stormweather, called Song of Chaos.

I’ll just simply reword what the description says on the back of the book. It follows Shamar as she learns who poisoned her niece causing her to take her identity and marry Thamalon Uskevren. Lo and behold, she finds that the murderer was none other than Thamalon himself! But revenge clouds her thoughts and she forgets the enemies that Uskevren has made over the years…

Negatives:
1) The pacing. It read slightly slow. I don’t know why it is, maybe just after reading Shadow’s Witness by Paul S. Kemp and knowing that story was fast paced, that this one seemed a little slow building.
2) All the ‘close calls.’ Generally, I know most stories have the main characters barely being missed by either a spear or an arrow, but it seemed like every time something was happening, an action was always a close call. It doesn’t bother me to much, but just reading how close the sword got or how so and so felt the wind of a pebble just got a little annoying.
3) Age Limitations? From what I understand, Shamar is about 50 and Thamalon is near 60. Yet, they can take down a lot of people without really showing their ages? I don’t know about that. However, afterword they were really tired and exhausted, but in reality, they should have been near death.

Positives:
1) The whole plot in general. I liked how the poisoning thing was well done and thought out. It seemed like no stone was left unturned in the cover-up and blame placing.
2) Bad Guys that Monologue. I found it funny that when the ‘bad guy’ started to monologue, Shamar or Thamalon made him pay in one way or another. Then the Man in the Moon, finally picked up on it.
3) Shamar and Thamalon. I really liked how Mr. Byers portrayed them. I felt myself liking Thamalon more and more than what I read about him in the short stories. I liked Shamar in the short story, and I liked her in this more and more. Also, I liked how their relationship felt genuine and real.

Overall: 4/5

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