See those people in the ornate jackets, fine vests, lacy neckerchiefs, embroidered stockings, jeweled slippers and exquisite masks? They’re poised, eloquent, talented, educated, perfect dancers, musicians, deadly duelists and charming conversationalists. They’re good listeners, too. They seem to be having a good time at the gala. They’re the life of the party.
Unless you want to be caught up in a deadly intrigue or you don’t mind being used in a political game, I wouldn’t go anywhere near them. They’re jesters. Their sole purpose in life is to advance the power and wealth of the lords to whom they’ve bound their souls. Some say they have no souls of their own. Others say they do have souls, but what’s left of them isn’t worth trading in for rags.
That one with the painted diamond mask in sapphire, silver, gold and obsidian? They say he hears voices, the words of the sacred beings that judge whose soul is worthy and which souls will be devoured. He was pupil to the world’s most famed jester, Gutter. He’s just a boy, you might think. But of all of jesters at the ball, I’d give him the widest berth.
I think he might be cursed, or mad, or both.
Oh, and I should warn you. Don’t ever put on a mask, especially one of their masks, though I doubt they’d ever offer. It might seem harmless. To a lot of people, it is harmless. But if you’re sensitive to masks, they’ll change you.
You might do things of which you might be later ashamed.
You might not even remember you did them.
From EM Prazeman:
“When I first started writing Masks, I focused on Mark and his relationships and the mystery surrounding his parents and his mother’s death. But then I read a book by Keith Johnstone, and the masks literally came alive. Sometimes, when I dare, I imagine a mask on my face, and let my right eye do my thinking for me, and then my left eye. It’s uncanny, how the psyche shifts, and you feel like a completely different being. It can be frightening. It’s also marvelous and far more real than you might expect.”
Is there a man behind the mask, or a monster?
When Mark Seaton woke one day to face more tutors, more beatings, more secrets, he never imagined that this would be the day.
This would be worst day of his life, and the best day of all.
It would be the day he’d set himself free.
Freedom always has a price. To keep his freedom and follow his heart, he must begin to wear masks: painted masks, jeweled masks, deadly masks. When pistols and rapiers are drawn, and life contracts into the spaces between heartbeats, Mark Seaton will have to decide whether he will be the young man who dreamed of becoming a sailor, or a jester who becomes the masks he wears.
There are powerful masks in the world, masks that can change his soul, and change the world forever.
Praise for the books:
I love fantasy that has characters in same-sex relationships and treats them just like any other person. For that reason alone, I would recommend this book. But there’s so much more to like. Unique world-building with magic I’ve never seen. A protagonist I cared about and worried about from the very first page. Romantic elements that enhance the plot but don’t take it over…
… this is getting five stars and a place on my favorites shelf anyway just for the amount and volume of FEELS it gave me. The setting/atmosphere is gorgeous, the concepts (specifically the lord/jester bonding thing, and the ‘living’ masks, etc) are beautiful, and the characters (at least the ones that matter) are perfectly complex. I’m floored tbh and that doesn’t happen so often…
The world of MASKS is a fantasy world unlike any other I’ve encountered, rich with mystery, intrigue, and danger, and its hero Mark is complex and unusual – a young man trying to solve the riddle of his parents’ deaths while concealing dangerous secrets of his own. No one in this book is exactly what they seem, Mark least of all…
“He coddled you, and now we all pay the price…”
Lord Jester Lark expected to spend the rest of his days in peace, raising his daughter with his beloved Verai. But the intrigues he left behind, intrigues that Lord Jester Gutter set in motion long before Lark’s birth, aren’t through with the Confidante. The past has come to claim his voice.
You bury my mask
You bury my clothes
You bury my heart and you bury my bones
You bury the deceit
You bury the truth
And our bond they’ll bury with you…