City of Masks (Bone Mask Trilogy #1) by Ashley Capes
Publication date: August 14th 2016 | Genres: Adult, Fantasy
A noble daughter burdened by power she never sought. Perched on an unforgiving coast, the city of Anaskar is under threat from enemies within. Its own royal family feuds over possession of sentient bone masks of power, leaving Sofia Falco, daughter to the city’s Lord Protector, to foil a conspiracy designed to strip her father of both his title and powerful Greatmask.
A bitter mercenary accused of murder.
Yet when disaster strikes, Sofia is forced to flee the palace and into the city where she crosses paths with mercenary Notch. But Notch has his own problems – accused of murder, he must fight to clear his name, all the while hunted by the city’s robed assassins, the very people who are now searching for Sofia.
A young Pathfinder seeking vengeance.
Meanwhile, far across the western desert, Pathfinder Ain must overcome his doubts and leave on a hopeless quest. To restore his people to their rightful home, he must unlock the ancient mystery of Anaskar’s Sea Shrine and the gargantuan sea beast that lurks beneath its harbour. Yet all who have gone before him have failed…
Follow three unlikely heroes on an epic fantasy adventure where the struggle over bone masks of power threatens to tear their city – and kingdom – into shreds.
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EXCERPT: Chapter 2
Blood blossomed on Sofia’s finger and she cursed, chisel clattering to the bench beside an unfinished mask. Bone dust stirred and a row of heads popped up in bright lamplight as young women in the Carver’s chamber turned to her.
“What’s wrong?” Pietta spun on her stool. Both her grey carver’s robe and face were
smudged with fine white dust.
“It’s nothing.” Sofia wiped her finger on the rough fabric of her own robe. “Just a tiny cut.”
Pietta pointed. “It’s on your mask too.”
Sofia groaned. A pink smear marred the otherwise pristine surface of the mask. She had completed one eye. The groove for the mouth and ridges for nose and cheeks were already carved, but she’d have to start again if she couldn’t clean it. The Mascare would not
accept a mask dishonoured by any stain. Not that it really mattered – the masks were just symbols of office, costume for tradition. A way to honour the past and intimidate the populace.
It wasn’t as though she was carving a Greatmask.
She wound a strip of fabric over her cut and reached for a small vial with a clear solution. A few drops and a dry cloth were enough to remove most of the stain. “That’s better.” She kept rubbing.
“Aren’t you annoyed?”
“Of course. But it’s not so bad.” Sofia grinned. “I’m still one mask ahead.”
Pietta glared at her, but her own smile was not far behind. She kept her voice low. “You know, I heard the Mascare might open the order to common folk. To bolster numbers.”
“That’s just a rumour. Father said it’s only being discussed.” Conversations hushed and chisels slowed. Two figures approached. Lady Alda escorted a Shield across the chamber. He stared directly ahead, as if unaware of the sets of eyes trained upon him. Captain Emilio. Youngest member of the Honour Guard. Pietta stared up at him but Sofia saw only the grave expression on Lady Alda’s plump face. “Sofia dear, that will be all for today. The Lord Protector has returned. He wishes to speak with you. Captain Emilio will escort you.”
“Has something happened?”
“Not here.” The two ushered Sofia toward the exit. The scrape of chisels resumed. Alda pulled open the large doors, their beaten-steel surface showing a looming mask and chisel. Sofia glanced back. Pietta’s expression was caught between worry and envy, as the doors swung shut.
Ashley is an Australian novelist, poet & teacher. You might have read his epic fantasy 'The Bone Mask Trilogy' or maybe you're familiar with his other work, the fantasy/adventure series 'The Book of Never.' Either way, you can read more about his books and get access to giveaways and free books via his newsletter below :)
Ashley occasionally dabbles in film, is addicted to 80s cartoon shows and Studio Ghibli films, and finds himself constantly awed by the simple beauty of haiku. He is also convinced that 'Magnum PI' is one of the greatest TV shows ever.
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