An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors, by Curtis Craddock

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

This book both swashes and buckles. It has an actual no-kidding Musketeer, although the king he serves is not quite King Louis, and the country he’s from is not quite France. There’s fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, true love…though not of the romantic sort…there are airships, there are lots of different kinds of magic, and just when you think you’ve got a good handle on how many kinds of magic, there’s another kind of magic.

There is a protagonist who is a girl who likes math a heck of a lot and has learned to cope with a disability pretty darn well, and then has to re-learn around different parameters. The main point of reviews is to alert people to what kind of book it is, and I realize that that sentence right there had neon signs flashing “MY JAM” for some of you. And for a few more of you: there’s a heck of a lot of loyalty to friends and not a heck of a lot of loyalty to blood relations who don’t deserve it, and the people who save the day are not always the obvious people, and there are disguises and tricks and double-crosses and plots.

I did not find myself deeply engaged with any of the characters. But I didn’t have to be; it moved along, it never left me yawning, it was doing the thing it was doing, and that doesn’t have to be everything. This is book one of a series, but there’s significant resolution at the end of the volume; plenty of room for more in this universe, but also not the feeling of “wait, shouldn’t there be more words here?” at the end.

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