In the land of Aygrima, everyone must don a magical mask at the age of fifteen that tells reveals to the authorities anyone who might pose a threat to the ruling Autarch. But when Mara Holdfast, daughter of the Master Maskmaker, turns fifteen, something goes horribly wrong. The mask shatters, and she is forced into exile…and then falls in with the rebels trying to overthrow the tyrannical regime…
The Masks of Agyrima Trilogy
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Available now in hardcover and ebook formats from DAW Books.
Written as E.C. Blake: my initials and the middle name of my nephew, Torrey Willett.
Cover art by Paul Young.
“Mara’s personal growth is a delight to follow. Sharp characterization, a fast-moving plot, and a steady unveiling of a bigger picture make this a welcome addition to the genre.” – Publishers Weekly
“(A) powerful fantasy novel, the first book in a series that should appeal to both YA and adult readers…Blake brings his fantastic world to life through offbeat links between magic, nature, and human behavior in a caste-ridden society.” – Locus Magazine
“Encapsulating the best features of a good teen title, Masks is sure to resonate with readers…With an intriguing setting and a suspenseful story line that will hook readers, Masks is the first of a promising new series.”- School Library Journal
“Not since the likes of Lirael or Sabriel have I enjoyed a YA with a female protagonist to the extent I did Masks…a novel that will emotionally touch you and leave you reeling through it.” – Fantasy Faction
Masks, the first novel in a mesmerizing new fantasy series, draws readers into a world in which cataclysmic events have left the Autarchy of Aygrima—the one land blessed with magical resources—cut off from its former trading partners across the waters, not knowing if any of those distant peoples still live. Yet under the rule of the Autarch, Aygrima survives. And thanks to the creation of the Masks and the vigilance of the Autarch’s Watchers, no one can threaten the security of the empire.
In Aygrima, magic is a Gift possessed from birth by a very small percentage of the population, with the Autarch himself the most powerful magic worker of all. Only the long-vanquished Lady of Pain and Fire had been able to challenge his rule.
At the age of fifteen, citizens are recognized as adults and must don the spell-infused Masks—which denote both status and profession—whenever they are in public. To maintain the secure rule of the kingdom, the Masks are magically crafted to reveal any treasonous thoughts or actions. And once such betrayals are exposed, the Watchers are there to enforce the law.
Mara Holdfast, daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday and her all-important Masking ceremony. Her father himself has been working behind closed doors to create Mara’s Mask. Once the ceremony is done, she will take her place as an adult, and Gifted with the same magical abilities as her father, she will also claim her rightful place as his apprentice.
But on the day of her Masking something goes horribly wrong, and instead of celebrating, Mara is torn away from her parents, imprisoned, and consigned to a wagon bound for the mines. Is it because she didn’t turn the unMasked boy she discovered over to the Night Watchers? Or is it because she’s lied about her Gift, claiming she can only see one color of magic, when in truth she can see them all, just as she could when she was a young child?
Whatever the reason, her Mask has labeled her a traitor and now she has lost everything, doomed to slavery in the mines until she dies. And not even her Gift can show Mara the future that awaits her—a future that may see her freed to aid a rebel cause, forced to become a puppet of the Autarch, or transformed into a force as dangerous to her world as the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire.
“Fans of Masks will not be disappointed with Blake’s amazing sequel, Shadows. The magic continues in this enthralling adventure, grabbing the readers’ interest and holding it until th final page. Each chapter brings a new twist in the already sensational story. Blake creates the perfect mix of adventure and romance as the main character, Mara Holdfast, struggles to come of age in a world that is quickly changing. Mara’s struggle is relevant to readers of any age.” – RT Book Reviews Magazine, Top Pick for August 2014
“Raw, powerful, emotional and intense. Shadows is a book that captivated me from page one and had me literally on the edge of my seat. A year until the next book?! It’s going to be a long year, I need it NOW!” – Candace’s Book Blog
“More action-packed and fast-moving than the first…I highly recommend this series for fantasy fans!” – Not Yet Read
“I devoured this story. I was hanging on to every word…The Masks of Aygrima’s dark magic, powerful young heroine, and group of rebels plotting to overthrow a tyrannical leader make this an addictive series that I would recommend to any fantasy fan.” – Addicted 2 Heroines
“Full of suspense, mystery, magic, and a bit of romance – the intensity builds to a climactic ending. I look forward to the next in this incredible fantasy series.” – SciFi Chick
Written as E.C. Blake.
Cover art by Paul Young.
In Masks, Mara Holdfast’s life changed forever. As the daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, she had a clearly defined future: working with her father to make the Masks that must be worn by all adults—Masks imbued with a magic that would reveal any treasonous thought about the ruling Autarch. But when her own Mask cracked and fell to pieces during her Masking ceremony, Mara was exiled from everything she once knew. Rescued by an underground rebel group known as the unMasked Army, Mara was recruited to their cause when she learned the shocking truth about the Autarch’s reign. And in a moment of crisis, Mara drew upon a volatile magical talent neither she nor her allies could understand or control.
In Shadows, Mara faces staggering new challenges as she struggles to master her terrifying, almost addictive ability to use all types of magic—and to rip magic from those around her to fuel her power.
When Chell, a young man from across the sea, is shipwrecked and washed ashore outside the rebels’ hidden base, it signals the first contact in centuries with the world beyond the borders of the Autarchy of Aygrima. But whether Chell and his people will help the unMasked Army or betray them to the Autarch is very much in question. His arrival, and Mara’s own need for answers that can only be found in the capital city of Tamita, sparks a covert mission to the seat of the Autarch’s power. It is there that an act of unspeakable brutality tips Mara dangerously close to madness…and in the midst of a desperate and bloody battle, she discovers just how horrifying her power can be….
“Blake creates a perfect balance between the action and emotion, forging a deep connection between the reader and the characters.” – RT Book Reviews
“A wonderful story with some great characters and world-building…Fans of realistic heroines will love Mara.” – Bibliosanctum
The spellbinding third novel of The Masks of Aygrima is set in a land where people are forced to wear spell-imbued Masks that reveal any traitorous thoughts they have about their ruler, the Autarch.
Mara Holdfast is a young woman gifted with the ability to see and use all the colors of magic. Two other people share this talent: the Autarch, who draws upon the very life-force of his subjects to fuel his existence and retain his control over the kingdom; and the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire, the only person who has ever truly challenged the Autarch’s despotic reign.
After a devastating battle that takes a dreadful toll on both the rebel unMasked Army and the forces of Prince Chell, their ally from across the sea, Mara and her fellow survivors have no one to turn to for help but the Lady of Pain and Fire.
As the Lady leads them to her haven beyond the mountain borders of the kingdom, Mara feels that she has found the one person who truly understands her, a mentor who can teach her to control and use her power for the greater good. Together, they may be able to at last free Agryma from the Autarch’s rule.
Living within the Lady’s castle, cut off from her friends in the village far below, Mara immerses herself in her training. Still, she can’t entirely escape from hearing dark hints about the Lady, rumors that the Lady may, in her own way, be as ruthless as the Autarch himself.
Yet it is not until they begin their campaign against the Autarch that Mara discovers where the real danger lies. Driven by the Lady’s thirst for revenge, will Mara and all her friends fall victim in a duel to the death between two masters of magic?